While the Service to America awards has always impressed upon me how hard it is to get broadcasters to put their hands together while they are also trying to eat desert, John clapped enthusiastically for every award. Good on ya.
But while his praise seemed sincer, John also asked broadcasters not to let AIDS "go off the map" when other issues appear to be more important. Tastefully he supplied no examples like, say, PARIS HILTON!!!!
John received the NABEF’s Leadership Award for helping to raise more than $125 million to combat AIDS.
In his acceptance speech, John said that American radio had done more for his career than he could say, and credited TV with helping him turn his life around. It was a TV story about AIDS victim Ryan White that helped John redirect his life toward service and get sober–it’s been 17 years, he said, to applause from the crowd.
But even with a piano sitting on stage at the National Building Museum in Washington, John was not tempted to tickle the ivories. NAB was prepared, however, with a fantastic tribute by Oleta Adams, who sang a medley of songs, including a version of Can You Feel the Love Tonight that I liked better than John’s rendition, just as I preferred his Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds to The Beatles, and even William Shatner’s.
The event was black tie with great appetizers and primo polician/regulator watching. Senator Patrick Leahy pointed out that he helped save the Building Museum, an impressive structure with a massive ceiling and faux marble columns, when it was targeted for parkinglotdom.
FCC Commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps and Robert McDowell were all in attendance and all acted as award presenters in the bargain.
At last year’s awards, Copps got in the best joke on himself when, onstage with Miss America, he made a crack about Beauty and the Beast. This year, it was Adeltstein who got in the Miss America crack, saying that the great thing about the event was that you get to meet real celebrities and real people, adding: "I’m sure Miss America is thrilled to be here with me tonight."
Also making appearances were Barbara Boxer and Fred Upton and former FCC Chairman Jim Quello.
Not able to make the dinner was Citadel Chairman Farid Suleman, whose company took over the ABC Radio stations–including KGO–at midnight. Apparently he was in a plane circling somewhere.
By John Eggerton