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38th Annual Professional Recognition Awards and Scholarship Dinner

April 30, 2016, 6 PM cocktails, 7 PM dinner

at Drumlins Country Club, 800 Nottingham Road

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Poynter
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Written by Administrator   

Don Edwards

WSYR / WSTM-TV

Club President: 1965

The road to success for Don Edwards started in a small southern Ohio village and led to the general manager job at a major Syracuse television station, and later to the top job in the broadcast journalism department at Syracuse University's Newhouse School.
Along the way, Don moved to Canton, Ohio, where he graduated from high school and soon enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army. It was 1950 and the Korean War was getting underway. By the time he was discharged in 1953, he had been promoted to lieutenant.

His interest in radio and television news brought him to Syracuse University, for which his "extensive research" showed him was where the best broadcast journalism program in the United States was located. Like many students who had been in the military, Don wanted to complete his education as soon as possible. He earned his bachelor's degree in just three years, then wasted no time starting on a master's degree in broadcast journalism in 1956. Meanwhile at SU, Don met his wife, Nancy, and, as he puts it, "I wound up trading my master's degree for a wedding license."

That same year, Don joined the staff of WSYR-TV and radio as a photographer-reporter. "In those early days of TV," he explains, "when a photographer went out on an assignment, he often was the reporter, too." So the photographer also wrote a story for the WSYR radio stations!

Don decided early that he wanted to get into management, so in 1958 he switched to producing documentaries, and directing special projects at the television and radio stations. Seven years later, he became the WSYR's public affairs director, a position he held until 1975 when he was named general manager of WSYR-FM.

During his early days at WSYR, one of Don's interests was the search for a plentiful supply of fresh water for Onondaga County. He realized that a good water supply was badly needed if the area was to develop and grow. So Don worked with Onondaga County's Lake Ontario Water Committee to successfully convince voters in the 1960's to approve the $45 million expenditure to guarantee an inexhaustible supply of Lake Ontario water.

He also found time to work on several Syracuse Press Club committees in those years, and was elected president in 1965.

In 1978, Don became program manager of WSYR-TV (now WSTM-TV), and four years later, he was named general manager of the television station. During all of these changes, Don remained in the US Army Reserve. By 1976, after serving 23 years, he had achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel and decided to retire from the Army.

In 1986, SU asked Don to join the faculty of the broadcast journalism department. He decided that after 30 years in broadcast journalism, it was time to make the move. So he accepted the job offer. The following year, he was named chair of the department and continued in that position until he retired in 1999. During Don's 10 years as chair, the department's student enrollment soared from under 100 to 600-plus.

Don and his wife, a native of Central New York, are spending their retirement years in the region they most love. "The quality of life here is fantastic," he says.
--Joseph A. Porcello
 
"Free speech carries with it some freedom to listen."
Warren E Burger, Chief Justice, US Supreme Court
Majority opinion in 7-1 ruling that prohibited the closing of courtrooms to the press, 2 Jul 80

Wall of Distinction


Jerry Barsha

WSTM-TV

WSYR-AM-TV

During 32 years of reporting on Central New York radio and television, Jerry Barsha gave meaning to the term "breaking news." He broke many exclusive stories and conducted news investigations that brought him recognition from the home audience and his peers alike.
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