McDonalds Holds Annual Black Media Legends Gala

As the calendar flipped to February, it became Black History Month. For the annual honor, the tri-state McDonalds restaurants select Black Media Legends and Trailblazers. Each year they are showcased on the place mats of customers’ trays.

This year, the lunchtime event moved from the Waldorf Astoria to the Plaza Hotel.

The 18 people are standouts in their fields (TV, radio, and newspapers). But this was all about the great WNBC anchor Sue Simmons, who stepped down last June.

Most of the presenters and award winners mentioned Simmons in their speeches, or ad libbed, due to her remarkable career and presence.

Ironically, John Noel, a reporter with WNBC since 1998, never mentioned Sue’s name in accepting his trophy. FishbowlNY did speak to Noel, a Brooklyn native, about sharing this year’s class with his former colleague.

“If you’re going to call anybody a legend in the media here in New York City, clearly she qualifies for the title,” Noel says. “She’s known and loved by millions of people in the metropolitan area. Much of what she’s done on the air remains legendary.”

The full list of winners after the jump

NY1 political anchor Errol Louis, who hosted Inside City Hall, opened his remarks by glancing at the former Channel 4 anchor.

“It’s an honor, of course, to be anywhere near Sue Simmons when we’re talking about journalism awards,” Louis says.

Jay Dow was also part of this year’s group. Dow joined WPIX in January 2011. The Dow family name didn’t stop there. The Lifetime Achievement Award was named for Jay’s uncle, longtime CBS News correspondent Harold Dow, who passed away in 2010.

In the only surprise of the proceedings, previous Black Media Legends winner, WWOR anchor Brenda Blackmon was bestowed that prestigious award.

“Anchors are not supposed to be speechless, and no one ever sees me cry,” Blackmon said as she began to tear.

Her emotion changed a moment later, paying homage to the lead sponsor of the event and causing a roar of laughter.

“Every night right after the newscast it’s a number 14 in the drive-thru,” Blackmon says.

Earl VanDyke Toliver is a former community relations VP at WNYW. Earlier in his career he worked on CBS’ See it Now with Edward R. Murrow. But Toliver’s legacy is creating the signature opening line for the 10 o’clock news on Channel 5: “It’s 10 p.m., do you know where your children are?”

Other honorees:

  • DJ Clue—Power 105/WWPR
  • Troy Roberts –CBS News (48 Hours)
  • Edward Harris— Director of engineering at WNYW/WWOR
  • Don Lemon— CNN
  • Joy Ann-Reid—
  • Deon Levingston–WBLS/WLIB general manager
  • J.L. Mitchell —WNYW photojournalist (six-time Emmy Award winner)
  • Fatiyn Muhammed– WBLS (and formerly KISS) Open Line executive producer
  • Sandra Rice— Anna Bowen Foundation
  • Saundra Thomas–WABC, VP of community affairs
  • Robert Moore — New York Daily News
  • Walter Smith —- New York Beacon/Philadelphia Observer
  • Pat Stevenson — Harlem News


Photo credit: Don Sherrill