Service With a Smile (and a Tear)

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Beneath the soaring ceilings of the Natoinal Building Museum in Washington Monday night, the site of Hillary Clinton’s concession two days before, there were cheers and tears as broadcasters celebrated their service to America at, appropriately enough, the NAB’s Service To America awards banquet (B&C was a co-sponsor of the event).

Host Deborah Norville pointed out to the crowd that not all the faces had been happy for Hillary’s speech. And while it was generally a night of celebration, it had its poigniant moments as well.

Broadcasters were saluted for serving their communities through fund-raisers and awareness campaigns that included suporting the troops, combating child abuse and helping kids with cancer. There were few dry eyes, including honorees Quincy Jones and Randy Owen of iconic group Alabama, when a young girl with cancer, but more importantly with bright eyes and a smile that radiated through the room, stepped haltingly to the mike to thank Owen and the Country Cares For St. Jude Kids radio fund-raising campaign.

As has become something of a tradition, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein got to co-present an award with Miss America, which fellow commissioner Robert McDowell said would make him insufferable for at leat a couple of weeks. Continuing the FCC stand-up, Commissioner Michael Copps, presenting by himself, looked for somebody to join him on the stage, "Miss America, [former Defesne Secretary] WIlliam Cohen, anybody. They used to let me do Miss America," he added, which drew a titter or two from the audience.

McDowell also pointed out that all the broadcasters’ good works had been accomplished without government mandates (applause), an example of "market-driven localism" (more appluase). The commission is currently contemplating instituting new localism mandates on broadcasters, something McDowell has taken issue with.

Quincy Jones, who received the America Leadership Award, called on radio stations to slip in a little blues and jazz into their playlists so kids would be exposed to the roots of their music. He talked of the unifying power of that music.

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