Each year IBA pays tribute to a broadcaster that has spent their entire career in Illinois behind the microphone or camer, in the production room, or in the manager's office. IBA's Broadcast Pioneer award was renamed in 2016 to the "W. Russell Withers Jr., IBA Broadcast Pioneer Award" dedicated their years to bringing local programming to their audience while serving as a pillar in the community, exemplifying the true meaning of "Localism" before it became popular.
IBA celebrates the long careers of the following broadcasters while thanking them for their contributions to Illinois.
2008: Joel Daly, ABC 7 and Art Kimball, IHSA Sports Announcer
2009: Mal Bellairs, WBBM, WIVS, WXRD and Jack Larson, WAIK, WGIL
2010: Bob Larson, WMBD-TV and Jan Gabriel, Race Track Announcer
2011: David Van Drew, WRHL
2012: Jack Rosenberg, Legendary Sports Broadcaster, WGN-TV/Radio
2013: Ken Wooddell, IHSA and EIU Sports Announcer and Pervis Spann, Legendary Radio Broadcaster and WVON Founder
2014: Judy Fraser, WCIA-TV Weathercaster and Jim Turpin, WDWS-AM Radio Show Host of "Penny for Your Thoughts"
2015: Lyle Dean, Chicago Radio Icon and Armando Perez, Spanish Language Chicago Broadcaster
2016: Ben Kiningham, Illinois Capitol Reporter
2017: Don Sharp, WHBF-TV, Rock Island