WSAW-TV NewsChannel 7 has been named Station of the Year and Best News Operation in the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association 2008 Awards for Excellence. This is the first time in the station’s 58-year history that it has received the top honor from the WBA. WSAW also won eight other categories and placed in an additional 12 categories.
"It is an honor to be recognized by our peers,” says WSAW General Manager Al Lancaster. “It shows the dedication that this entire station has to providing the best possible news coverage to our viewers.”
WSAW took first place for Spot News in the Small Market Television division for its coverage of the June 2008 chemical spill at Wausau Papers in Brokaw. It also finished second for its coverage of a deadly explosion at Packaging Corporation of America in Tomahawk in August 2008.
In the Best Weathercast category, Chief Meteorologist Mike Breunling was the winner. NewsChannel 7 DayBreak Meteorologist Lee Ann Okuly was the runner-up. WSAW’s “Hilight Zone,” its Friday night high school football program, was awarded Best Sportscast. The station also swept the Editorial/Commentary category with Drinking and Snowmobiling and Positive Economic Outlook, finishing first and second, respectively.
Other first-place awards include: News Writing (Men Abducted/Assaulted), Hard News/Investigative (Shawano Hit List/FBI Informant Speaks Out), Feature (Soldier Meets Son for the First Time), Significant Community Impact (Share Your Holidays). NewsChannel 7 took second-place for Best Morning Newscast (NewsChannel 7 DayBreak), Live On-Scene Reporting (Shooting in Stevens Point), and Best Election Coverage (Election Day Live Special Reports – Noon Until Midnight). Grace Under Pressure: Emergency Responders was awarded third-place for Best News Video, and State Football 2008 was third for Best Sports Video.
“This is a great opportunity to recognize and thank my staff for the hard work they do every day,” says WSAW News Director Susan Ramsett. “We’ve built a team of talented, passionate people who truly care about the stories they cover and the people they affect.
“Broadcast news has changed so much during the past several years,” continues Ramsett. “In addition to producing five newscasts each day, we serve WSAW.com, our 24/7 digital weather channel, 7-to-Go for Web-enabled cell phones, Twitter and Facebook. It’s a lot to manage, so it’s reassuring to hear that we’re doing a good job.”
In addition to the television awards, WSAW.com took home awards in the New Media division, which encompasses all television and radio stations in the state of Wisconsin regardless of market size. Drinking and Snowmobiling: A Deadly Culture finished in a first-place tie in the Convergence Coverage category, while Special Report: End of an Era placed third. 2008 Wisconsin Valley Fair also won for Story or Event Produced Originally for New Media. WSAW.com came in third for Use of New Media (7-to-Go/My Local TITAN) and Best Election Coverage (2008 Election).
The Awards for Excellence program is sponsored annually by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association to recognize outstanding achievement by Wisconsin radio and television broadcasters. The competition was established to encourage the highest standards of reporting, community service and production creativity, bringing the ultimate prize – peer recognition – to members of the broadcast industry in Wisconsin.
The awards from the WBA come one month after WSAW received seven awards from the Wisconsin Associated Press, including Best Newscast. The station also received its second consecutive Edward R. Murrow award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association.
WSAW-TV NewsChannel 7 is the CBS affiliate for the Wausau/Rhinelander area. It is owned by Gray Television, Inc.