Six prominent figures in Michigan broadcasting history were inducted into the Michigan Broadcasting Hall of Fame. The board of directors of the Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB) endorsed the nominees May 21 at its board meeting in Lansing. Inductees were formally recognized at ceremonies held July 15th at the MAB Annual Meeting & Leadership Retreat at Crystal Mountain Resort. Honorees included:
2008 Lifetime Achievement Award
• Richard Sommerville retired in 2000 after a half-century of distinguished broadcasting excellence including his ownership of several radio stations. Dick started his career as a morning man at WTTH (now WPHM) in Port Huron. He purchased WSMA in Marine City in 1962 and subsequently purchased WCEN AM/FM in Mt. Pleasant in 1986. Many broadcasters got their start under Dick's tutelage at WCEN, including several who now own their own stations, or have gone on to distinguished on-air careers.
2008 Michigan Broadcasting Hall of Fame Inductees
• James Bleicher has served as news director at WJRT-TV in Flint for 22 years. Jim is widely recognized for his steady, creative and sensitive presence that has built and maintained the highest journalistic standards and audience levels at the station. Jim has a long established track record of mentoring dozens of news employees who've gone on to other stations and networks. Jim's entire professional career has been spent in Michigan, starting in radio news in Jackson prior to television news assignments in Detroit, Lansing and Flint. Jim has won numerous state and national journalism awards, including a regional RTNDA award and five Emmys.
• Larry Estlack has been selected as a member of the Michigan Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Larry is director of technology for the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. Larry began working in Michigan broadcasting operations in 1970, and has been involved in just about every area of broadcasting from engineering to programming. Larry has been the chief engineer at several radio and television stations in Michigan and is widely respected as an engineering consultant. He was named MAB Engineer of the Year in 1997. Larry has been the Michigan chairperson of the Emergency Alert System since 1985, and has been a teacher at Michigan State University.
• Gordon A. Lawrence was hired by Grand Valley State University in October of 1971 to be its first station general manager. He created and launched a PBS station, WGVC Channel 35, bringing service to the West Michigan market to what had previously been the largest region in the nation without public television. In March 1979, Gordon was hired as director of broadcasting and media resources at the University of Michigan-Flint. For the second time, he developed another PBS station, WFUM-TV, channel 28, again in a market that was the largest unserved region in the nation without public television.
• Diana Lewis has been an integral part of the WXYZ-TV family since 1977 and has become one of the most recognized and respected faces in Michigan television. In addition to her role as news anchor on the WXYZ-TV 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts, Diana can also be seen anchoring two of the biggest Detroit area events, the North American International Auto Show Charity Preview Special and The Woodward Dream Cruise. Diana's commitment to the community, her enduring strength and spirit make her one Detroit's leading women. Diana's Tuesday's Child segments have been credited with inspiring people to adopt children with special needs. Diana is also involved with the American Lung Association of Southeast Michigan and the Boys & Girls Club, Haven and many more organizations.
• Mike Whorf is best known as the producer and host of WJR radio's award winning program "Kaleidoscope," a music, docu-drama featuring stories of people and events which influenced our thoughts, words, deeds and actions. The program received many of broadcasting's most prestigious awards, including the George Foster Peabody Award. Mike created many special projects during his stellar career, at WJR, which began in 1964, including holiday specials, The Quest for Excellence series: a 13-part series commemorating the 50th anniversary of the ending of WWII, a 36-week series I Remember Radio, as well as programs on sports and music.