Generations of Gracie
It is call for entries time again for the esteemed Gracie Awards and for me this reminds me of the extraordinary work the Alliance for Women in Media does to honor and embolden women in our fast-paced industry. It also reminds me of a truly special afternoon I shared several months ago with deeply inspiring women from all levels in the business… and all ages. I have been blessed in my decades (yes, decades!) in the broadcasting field to attend many awards ceremonies, but being a part of the Gracies as a presenter and multiple recipient, has been one of the more powerful and profoundly moving times in my career.
Years ago, when I was a full-time TV host, I presented several awards and had the honor to introduce a young then quite unknown singer from Nashville by the name of Taylor Swift who performed at the star-studded event! Her publicist told me this was the ideal forum for any future superstar… and boy she was right! She recognized, as so many have through the years, that the Gracies is the premiere place to celebrate the best of the best in female talent in media and to honor the men who also highlight women in their work product in an exceptional way. To me, there is no higher honor than to be recognized by your female peers for shows or reports that showcase our hard work and often can produce life-changing developments for women and men.
When I won my first Gracie in Radio I held the statue like a newborn baby as I knew in our still male-dominated industry of radio, this represented so much more than just me. I hoped it also inspired the next generation of female broadcasters to soar higher, to dream bigger and to know that AWM is fighting year-round for equality and appreciation for women in media on so many different levels, including highlighting vital legislation and initiatives to improve opportunities for women. How lucky we all are to have such a great advocate in our corner! These ladies are like boxing greats Evander Holyfield and Floyd Mayweather combined! True fighters!
The Gracies luncheon is also about comradery and friendship spanning generations. At the last awards luncheon this past summer, it was beautiful to see my friend the iconic Joan Hamburg receive her well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award. “New York Radio’s First Lady” has been gracing the airwaves for about half a century and still is as hard-working and dedicated to the craft as she was so many years ago when few women were on air in any area of media. Her acceptance speech, and the introduction by her pal actor Alan Alda, go down in the Gracies record books as two of the funniest and warmest talks, and highlighted how far women have come on so many different levels.
I also loved seeing multiple Gracie Award-winner Pavlina Osta, a young, talented radio host who has been honored several times for her great interviews with celebrities and newsmakers… and epitomizes the best of the next generation. For me, being in the middle generation-wise of Pavlina and Joan, and seeing firsthand so many wonderful new relationships and mentorships blossom, symbolizes what the Gracies luncheon and AWM are truly all about. They represent women of all ages supporting and learning from each other… the steady hand of a seasoned pro and the nimble hand of a budding star who knows every social media platform available… and can do it all in a single click!
So as you look at the call for entries this time, I encourage you to enter stories and shows that you feel made a difference, served to inspire and connect with your audience, and I implore you to encourage your dedicated colleagues to do the same. There is an unbelievable bond we women share with each other and I am certain some of the relationships and words of support you will find via AWM and The Gracies will stay with you for a lifetime.
The legendary late comedian and broadcaster Gracie Allen, for whom the awards are appropriately named after, once humorously said, “When I was born I was so surprised, I didn’t talk for a year and a half!” Thankfully the AWM has given us all a voice.
Blog written by Rita Cosby, Emmy-Winning TV and Radio Host, Multiple Gracie Award Winner and Best Selling Author