WTHR, WGRZ Win Edward R. Murrow Awards for Overall Excellence

By Merrill Knox 

WTHR staffers at the 2011 Murrow Awards

Twenty local television stations were presented with Edward R. Murrow Awards at an RTDNA dinner honoring the winners in New York City last night. TVSpy was there as WTHR in Indianapolis was presented the award for Overall Excellence in a large market. WGRZ in Buffalo was honored for Overall Excellence in a small market.

Although the winners represented every platform of the news industry — national news, radio, online — enthusiasm for the local stations was palpable, with staffers from winning stations cheering on their colleagues audibly as they took the stage to accept their awards.

In his opening speech, RTDNA chairman Kevin Benz implored the 95 Murrow award winners — more than the RTDNA has ever presented before — to “celebrate truth through journalism.”

“The practice of producing great journalism is as important today as it has ever been,” he told the packed ballroom at the Grand Hyatt in New York City.

Both WTHR, which won two awards, and WGRZ, which won three awards, are NBC affiliates. In accepting the award for Overall Excellence in network television, NBC News President Steve Capus said the network’s relationship with the affiliates and the owned-and-operated stations is something he is “most proud of.”

“Whether it’s providing on-the-ground local coverage of important matters of local interest, or local perspective to the network programming, our stations are the eyes and ears in cities and towns across the country,” Capus said. “They are the face of NBC to our viewers in more than 200 markets across the country, and we are a better news division for it.”

The RTDNA presented Distinguished Service Awards to Richard Hottelet, formerly of CBS News, and Al Primo, who launched “Eyewitness News” in 1968.

WFAA in Dallas won two large-market Murrow awards, in the Video Reporting: Hard News category and the Video Investigative Category. Other awards for large-market stations went to KCRA, KMGH, KGW, KMOV, WISN, KUSA, KING and KARE, which each won one.

In the small market category, award-winners were WJAR, WHO, WVUE, WRDW, KYTV, WMTW, KKTV, KTVB and WISC.