The Library of Broadcasting has announced its 2009 class of “Giants of Broadcasting.” They are Chris Rohrs, Katie Couric, Ken Burns, Dr. Woo Paik, Barbara Cochran, Norman Pattiz and, posthumously, Bea Arthur and Ed McMahon.
The awards ceremony will be in New York in October, again hosted by Charlie Osgood.
Here are the verbatim biographies of the recipients, as provided by the Library.
KATIE COURIC became the first female sole anchor of a weekday network evening broadcast when the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric debuted in September 2006. During her extraordinary career, Couric has interviewed a diverse collection of newsmakers, from presidents and prime ministers to captains of industry and cultural icons. Prior to joining CBS, Couric completed a 15-year run as co-anchor of NBC News’ Today. She has covered most of the major breaking news events both domestically and internationally, including the Sept. 11 attacks, the Columbine tragedy, six Olympic Games, the funeral of Princess Diana, the Oklahoma City bombing; the Timothy McVeigh execution, the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings and the historic 2008 presidential election. After losing her husband, Jay Monahan, to colon cancer in 1998, Couric embraced the fight against the country’s No. 2 cancer killer and launched the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance with the Entertainment Industry Foundation and Lilly Tartikoff to fund new medical research in colorectal cancer and educational programs encouraging the prevention and early detection of the disease. Following Couric’s own on-air colonoscopy in 2000, a scientifically documented 20 percent increase was noted in the number of colonoscopies performed nationwide. Researchers at the University of Michigan dubbed this “The Couric Effect.” Last year, Couric joined primetime anchors ABC’s Charlie Gibson and NBC’s Brian Williams to launch “Stand Up 2 Cancer,” which has raised more than one hundred million dollars to battle the disease.
KEN BURNS has been making documentary films for more than 30 years, bringing the late historian Stephen Ambrose to say: “More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source.” Burns has produced and directed some of the most celebrated documentaries ever made, including The Civil War; Baseball; Jazz; Brooklyn Bridge; Statue of Liberty; Huey Long; Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery; Frank Lloyd Wright; Mark Twain and Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson. His most recent film, The War, which was broadcast on PBS in 2007, tells the story of the Second World War through the personal accounts of nearly 40 men and women from four quintessentially American towns. Currently, Burns is once again partnering with long-time collaborator Dayton Duncan, producing and directing a major series on the history of the national parks. Filmed over the course of more than six years at some of nature’s most spectacular locales, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea focuses on the ideas and individuals that helped propel the parks into existence. The film will be broadcast on PBS in the fall of 2009. Burns’ films have been honored with dozens of major awards, including 10 Emmy Awards and two Oscar nominations; and in September of 2008, at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards, Burns was honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
DR. WOO PAIK is known throughout the industry as the “Father of HDTV,” primarily for his development of digital compression, the building block for both satellite TV and the ongoing digital and HDTV revolution. He serves as President and Chief Technology Officer for LG Electronics and is responsible for directing all of the company’s R&D activities, encompassing more than 15,000 engineers worldwide. Prior to joining LG Electronics, Dr. Paik was EVP, Technology for the General Instrument Communications Division (now the broadband division of Motorola). He led the Advanced Development team that vaulted General Instrument to the forefront of digital television technology. His team developed the DigiCipher HDTV system in 1990, which is the world’s first all-digital HDTV system, and later worked as a key member of the Grand Alliance Technical Oversight Group (TOG) and various Technical Specialist Groups that developed the U.S. HDTV broadcast standard. Dr. Paik was inducted into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame and the Academy of Digital Television Pioneers in 2004 and he has received the Digital Television Pioneers Award from Broadcasting & Cable Magazine, the Arthur C. Clarke Award from the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association, and a technical Emmy Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for his outstanding digital achievements. Dr. Paik is the author of numerous technical papers and co-inventor of more than 25 inventions earning U.S. Patents in the area of digital video compression, digital transmission and digital signal processing.
BARBARA COCHRAN’s career as a professional journalist has been surmounted for the past 13 years as president of RTNDA (The Radio-Television News Directors Association) and RTNDF (The Radio and Television News Directors Foundation). An industry insider, Cochran worked as a journalist and news executive in Washington, DC, for 28 years in both print and broadcasting. She has also served as vice president and Washington bureau chief at CBS News, executive producer of NBC’s Meet the Press and vice president of news at National Public Radio. Cochran is a leading advocate for First Amendment rights and has been at the forefront of the major issues facing electronic journalists, including fighting for cameras and microphones in state and federal courtrooms, protecting journalists’ access in post-9/11 America, opposing government secrecy and battling intrusive regulation of news content. She is also a leading proponent for diversity in the newsroom and in news coverage and frequently speaks on topics such as the Freedom of Information Act, cameras and microphones in the courtroom, broadcast standards and media ethics. Cochran has been recognized for her efforts on behalf of electronic journalism with the Media Institute’s Freedom of Speech Award and the American Women in Radio and Television Award for Allied Services.
NORMAN J. PATTIZ is the founder and chairman of Westwood One, America’s largest radio network company, which owns, manages or distributes NBC Radio Network, CBS Radio Network, the Metro Networks, CNN Radio and is the nation’s largest producer of news, sports, talk and entertainment programming. Pattiz was appointed by President Clinton to serve on the Broadcasting Board of Governors of the United States of America (BBG), which oversees all U.S. non-military international broadcasting including Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Worldnet Television, Radio and TV Marti and the Middle East Broadcasting Network. As chairman of the Middle East committee, Pattiz was responsible for conceiving and launching Radio Sawa and Alhurra Television. He has served as president of the Broadcast Education Association and has been the recipient of numerous professional and leadership awards including, an honorary doctorate from Southern Illinois University, the Distinguished Education Service Award from the Broadcast Education Association, the Freedom of Speech Award from NARTSH, and “Executive of the Year” awards from Radio Business Report, The Gallagher Report and Executive Magazine. Pattiz is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Pacific Council on International Policy, is Director of the Office of Foreign Relations of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and serves on the Region 1, Homeland Security Advisory Council.
CHRIS ROHRS’ leadership of television broadcast sales has been manifest as president of the not-for-profit Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB), the trade association of America’s local television broadcasters, since 2000. TVB members include television broadcast groups, advertising sales reps and more than 500 individual television stations. Under Rohr’s leadership during the last nine years, he has elevated the organization to new heights and has led television broadcasters to support many public service initiatives. Rohrs came to the association from his post as vice president, sales and marketing for Post-Newsweek Stations, Inc., a position he had held since April 1998. Rohrs previously served as vice president and general manager at WFSB-TV/Hartford for nine years. From 1980-1989, he held various positions at WDIV-TV/Detroit, including vice president of marketing and station manager, vice president and general sales manager, local sales manager, and national sales manager. Rohrs began his career as an account executive for Blair Radio in 1972 before moving to the TV rep business with TeleRep, where he held sales and research management positions. He received his bachelor of arts degree in economics from the University of Notre Dame in 1971.
BEA ARTHUR was known for her sharp wit and for her acclaimed starring roles on Maude and the Golden Girls. She first attracted notice for her performance in the off-Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera in 1954 and continued to find success performing on stage. Arthur originated the role of Yente the matchmaker in Fiddler on the Roof in 1964 and won the 1966 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Vera Charles in Mame. A guest appearance on All in the Family, Norman Lear’s groundbreaking situation comedy, led to Arthur’s first TV series, Maude. Audiences loved her character, Maude Findlay, the outspoken liberal cousin of Edith Bunker. Maude ran for six seasons and the timely, well-regarded comedy won Arthur her first Emmy Award in 1977 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. On the Golden Girls, Arthur played Dorothy Sbornak, a divorced older woman living with friends and looking after her mother. The show had the distinction of being one of the few series in television history to feature a cast of actresses over the age of 40. Golden Girls was a hit with TV audiences and Arthur received the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 1988. Following Golden Girls, Arthur made a few guest appearances on television, including Malcolm in the Middle and Curb Your Enthusiasm. She also has toured with her own one-woman show, And Then There’s Bea, in 2001. In 2002, she appeared in Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends, which earned her a Tony Award nomination for Special Theatrical Event. Outside of acting, Arthur was a strong supporter of animal rights and an activist for AIDS-related causes.
EDWARD MCMAHON embraced the role as the ultimate No. 2 man, spending 30 years introducing Johnny Carson as the announcer on The Tonight Show with his trademark line “Heeeeere’s Johnny.” He was the perfect chuckling foil for Carson’s monologues and witty banter and The Tonight Show became one of the best-loved programs in America. Long before the final episode of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson aired on May 22, 1992, McMahon made a name for himself in other areas – first as a pitchman for products as diverse as Budweiser, Breck Shampoo and Sara Lee Kitchens, and later as host of the long-running syndicated talent show Star Search, which debuted in 1983. McMahon also became well-known for his role as spokesman (along with longtime friend Dick Clark) for American Family Publishers (not to be confused with Publishers’ Clearinghouse) and its sweepstakes. A decorated combat pilot in the Korean War, McMahon rose through a series of TV and radio jobs before starting on Tonight in 1962. Over the next few years, McMahon appeared on a number of TV programs, most notably The Big Top, a circus show in which he played a clown. At one time in the early 1950s, McMahon was appearing on no fewer than 13 concurrently running programs on local Philadelphia television. McMahon was extremely active in various charities and he made frequent appearances with Jerry Lewis on the Muscular Dystrophy Association annual telethon, served on the board of the Marine Corps Scholarship Fund, and also supported the United Negro College Fund.