Station to Station

Alan Frank Held Up as Broadcasting's 'Gold' Standard

3/01/2011 10:39:25 AM

Real nice event for Post-Newsweek president Alan Frank at the Plaza in New York last night. The Broadcasters Foundation gave Frank its Golden Mike award, and a good crowd of broadcast bigwigs, including Gordon Smith, Peter Dunn, Michael Fiorile and Jack Abernethy, turned out to show their respect for Frank.

The gig, MC’d by Deborah Norville, featured a career retrospective video segment called “Alan Frank — Local Guy” that was hosted by Mark Burnett, and featured video commentary from a very funny Warren Buffett and Barry Diller.

Riffing on Newsweek’s recent sale for a dollar, Diller told Frank he could keep the “Post-Newsweek” name–in fact, the group is legally obligated to change the name–if he sent Diller a dollar.

Next up were the speakers in the room, which started off with Hearst TV CEO David Barrett in just about the brightest and most bejeweled dinner jacket seen in midtown Manhattan since Joseph donned that technicolor dreamcoat on Broadway. Barrett said the crimson getup was a nod to Frank’s Detroit roots, where sparkly lame passes for formal wear.

“If you’re on before Roger Ailes, Donald Graham and Brian Williams, you better have some schtick,” riffed Barrett, who called Frank “a legendary industry statesman.”

Ailes then took the stage, and spent several painful moments mocking a Q&A I’d done with Alan in our new issue. (Having your journalism mocked by an industry luminary in a room full of people you cover for work is alternately exhilarating and mortifying.)

The Fox honcho called Frank “the biggest all-purpose broadcaster I’ve ever met,” and “literally the nicest guy in our business, the best liked guy in our business–besides Glenn Beck.”

Brian Williams then stepped to the stage, saying he’d snuck out of a party at Cipriani, where his wife thought he either was in the bathroom or outside taking a phone call.

“I would’ve come back from Cairo to be here,” said Williams.

Williams repeatedly stressed that the networks are guests of their local affiliates, and in the family rooms and bedrooms of local viewers. “The emphasis on local is absolutely correctly placed,” said BriWi. “We are guests of our local broadcasters.”

Wrapping up the guest lineup, Washington Post’s Donald Graham cited  Frank as “one of broadcasting’s best people.”

Finally, Frank himself stepped to the podium, looking somewhat uncomfortable amidst all the praise and attention. Frank said the stations on his watch, including WDIV Detroit and KRPC Houston, are “part of the community, part of the neighborhood, part of what counts,” he said. “We make a difference.”

Frank said he sees a bright future for local TV. In closing, he smiled and said, “I’m really glad it’s over.”

March