At a WFUV gala featuring some of news media’s biggest trailblazers, pioneering broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff recalled a time during her career when women journalists were “pitted against each other” because there were few spots for women in the newsroom.
However, when Woodruff became co-anchor of PBS NewsHour with the late Gwen Ifill—making history as the first women to co-host a national nightly news show—the pair was determined to take a different route.
“I had known Gwen for years, but had only been working with her for five or six years, and we had gotten to be good friends,” she said. “So once we were named partners on the air, we just decided nothing was going to get between us.”
The Q&A discussion, held on Nov. 1 at the Lincoln Center campus, was part of WFUV’s On the Record, a celebration of achievement in news and sports broadcasting. Sponsors included the Susan V. Bershad Charitable Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Linda Mahoney and Peter A. Smith, Charles Osgood, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
This year’s ceremony honored Woodruff while honoring posthumously Ifill, who died last year after battling cancer. The third honoree was the legendary sportscaster Bob Wolff, who died at age 96 this past July.
Woodruff and Ifill were recipients of the Charles Osgood Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism, which was presented via video by former CBS News Sunday Morning host Osgood, FCRH ’54.
Ifill’s cousin Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NACCAP Legal Defense, accepted the award on behalf of the award-winning African-American correspondent. She described Ifill, who held positions at NBC News, the Washington Post, and the New York Times, as a “friend to people of America from all walks of life.”
“She was a journalist who really believed in getting the story,” she said, adding that Ifill “dug deep” to find universal experiences and was curious about other people’s perspectives.
Basketball and Baseball Hall of Fame sportscaster Wolff, who was recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest consecutive run as a broadcaster, was honored with the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting. Michael Kay, FCRH ’82, voice of the Yankees on the YES Network, presented the award to Rick Wolff, Wolff’s son and longtime host of The Sports Edge on WFAN Sports Radio, on his late father’s behalf.
Kay said “when word of Bob’s passing reached people in our industry, there was genuine sadness because not only did our business lose one of its giants, but the world lost one of the best people it has ever seen.”
Rick Wolff shared that his father, who covered every major sporting event and broadcasted for teams such as the New York Knicks and New York Yankees, made a name for himself when covering the Washington Senators in 1947 by cleverly giving scores during the games without saying which team was leading.
“He became very adept at how to tell stories and entertain various listeners,” he said.
Though On the Record commemorated industry legends, it also celebrated tomorrow’s broadcasters.
Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) junior Kacie Candela was presented with the WFUV Award for Excellence in News Journalism, and FCRH senior John Furlong received the Bob Ahrens Award for Excellence in Sports Journalism.
Ahrens, who recently retired after 20 years as WFUV’s executive sports producer, praised WFUV alumni like master of ceremonies Alice Gainer, FCRH ’04, a CBS 2 News reporter, for being role models for up-and-coming student broadcasters.
“It is comforting to know that there is an enthusiastic and active WFUV sports and Fordham family out there [who are]eager to give back,” said Ahrens, who was also honored during the night with a special video tribute.