Toasting, and Roasting, Hearst TV Chief Barrett
Great time at the Plaza last night, as the Broadcasters Foundation of America raised money for broadcasters in need, and Hearst TV CEO David Barrett accepted the Golden Mike award–and some barbs from his friends and colleagues.
Jon Miller, who was the longtime voice of Sunday night baseball on ESPN, emceed the event and recalled Barrett hiring him to voice the Orioles game on WBAL in 1988. The ballclub famously started out 0-21, won a game, and promptly started a new run of futility. Miller said it was a rare feat to start out historically bad, and then go into a slump.
Video tributes came from Ellen DeGeneres and the Kelly Ripa-Michael Strahan duo, then live addresses from daytime stars Steve Harvey and Dr. Mehmet Oz, among others.
Harvey seemed to be at a loss for words in the packed Plaza ballroom. “I met the guys at Hearst, they put on me,” he deadpanned about his eponymous talk show. “Thanks for putting me on. That’s it!”
In a video, John Conomikes, former Hearst-Argyle president and CEO, was more expansive. “Of all the guys I hired over the years, he was my No. 1 hire,” he said of his former protégé.
Jordan Wertlieb, president of Hearst Television, shared some of the “pearls of wisdom” passed along by Barrett over the years, including “leave the gun…take the cannolis, and “do the right thing–always.”
Alan Frank, retired CEO of Post-Newsweek and recipient of the 2011 Golden Mike, saluted Barrett’s leadership on vital broadcast issues in Washington. “I think David may be the greatest broadcaster of this generation,” said Frank, wearing bright red suit pants to match the gaudy lamé dinner jacket Barrett donned when toasting Frank on the same stage in 2011.
Barrett’s son Casey, a former Olympic swimmer and an Emmy award-winning writer at NBC, debunked the notion of his dad as sartorial icon. “To you, he’s the best dressed guy in the room,” quipped the junior Barrett. “To us, he’s the guy sitting around in his underwear, watching the Knicks.”
The room was packed with broadcast business bigwigs, including Rebecca Campbell, head of the ABC owned station group, Peter Dunn, president of the CBS owned group, NAB chief Gordon Smith, Schurz leader Marci Burdick, Nexstar co-COO Tim Busch, Fox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy, Young Broadcasting president Deb McDermott and Frank Magid television president Steve Ridge. Darlene Love provided the musical entertainment.
When it was finally the honoree’s turn to take the stage, Barrett saluted his wife of 40 years, Beth, his longtime employer, Hearst, and his many colleagues. He vowed to modify his will to reflect Casey’s irreverent jabs.
“It’s the best damn Irish wake I’ve ever been to,” said a beaming Barrett. “I can enjoy what everyone’s saying, and I’m not laid out in some funeral parlor in Chicago.”