Broadcast Pioneer Award
Each year IBA pays tribute to both a Chicago market and downstate broadcaster who have spent most of their careers in Illinois behind the microphone, in front of the camera, in the production room, or in the manager’s office. IBA’s Broadcast Pioneer award was renamed in 2016 as the “W. Russell Withers Jr., IBA Broadcast Pioneer Award” in recognizing those, like Withers, have devoted years to bringing local programming to their audiences 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.
Doug Quick, retired TV weathercaster/news anchor, broadcaster, author and museum curator has been named Illinois Broadcasters Association’s 2022 W. Russell Withers Jr. Downstate Broadcast Pioneer. At the time of his retirement in September 2021, Quick was deemed the longest-tenured central Illinois weathercaster following a career that began in 1974 on his hometown’s (Taylorville) radio stations, […]
Legendary radio Program Director, General Manager, and industry leader, John Gehron, has been named IBA’s (Illinois Broadcasters Association) 2022 “W. Russell Withers Jr. Chicago Broadcast Pioneer.” Gehron began his broadcast career in Philadelphia as Program Director of CBS’s WCAU-FM (now WOGL) in 1970, the first major market radio station to try the “oldies” format. The […]
Spann’s career spanned more than 60 years. In 1963, he became the second disc jockey hired by Leonard Chess, who founded the legendary WVON radio station that same year. Spann reigned as the most listened-to disco jockey overnights in Chicago for more than 10 years. Because of his love for Blues Music, he became known […]
Mike Haile, Morning Show Host, WDWS/WHMS/WKIO, Retired VP/GM Mike is that familiar voice the Champaign-Urbana market has heard each morning on the region’s most popular news and talk show. A pillar in the community, Haile keeps the listeners informed of city, state, and national news items as well as everything ILLINI! Haile remains on the […]
Merri Dee has parlayed her celebrity into charitable success, powerful motivational speaking and advocacy. She has raised millions of dollars for children’s charities, spearheaded victims’ rights legislation, and helped increase adoption rates across the nation. Having been recognized as the first African American spokesperson representing the Chicago Auto Shows, her broadcasting career began in 1966 […]
This year Mike Reis began his 40th season of doing radio play-by-play for Southern Illinois University football, basketball and baseball and became IBA’s newest W. Russell Withers,Jr., Broadcast Pioneer. Reis began his student sportscasting career at WSIU Radio and WSIU-TV in 1975. He became a part-time sportscaster at WCIL Radio in 1976, and moved to […]
Celebrating his 40th anniversary at WGN-TV, it seemed fitting for the Illinois Broadcasters Association (IBA) to honor Tom Skilling as it’s 2018 “IBA/W. Russell Withers Jr. Broadcast Pioneer” honoree. Skilling began his broadcast career at WKKD-Radio in Aurora at the unheard-of age of 14, while still a freshman at West Aurora High School. That soon […]
Don Sharp, legendary News and Sports Anchor with WHBF-TV in Rock Island became the newest recipient of the W. Russell Withers, Jr., IBA Broadcast Pioneer Award. Sharp retired after over three decades of being on the air at WHBF. Sharp is shown in the photo with Dana Withers, Presiden & CEO, Withers Broadcasting and Dana […]