Vt. Broadcasters To Honor Sands, Cheek, James

The Vermont Association of Broadcasters will induct three persons into the VAB Hall of Fame this year, including Paul Sands, WPTZ Burlington, Vt.- Plattsburgh, N.Y., general manager. longtime Toronto Blue Jays announcer Tom Cheek, Northeast Kingdom radio station owner Bruce James. The VAB Awards Banquet will be held Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Hilton Burlington.

Paul Sands may not be identified with baseball, but he is known for hard-hitting editorials on WPTZ and sister station WNNE. Sands has been president-GM of WPTZ since 1998 and has been in the television business for 38 years. During his tenure at WPTZ, Sands has assisted countless charity drives and helped form an alliance with the Echo Lake and Science Center that has become a national model for similar partnerships between media outlets and non-profit organizations. Sands has announced that he will retire by the end of this year.    

Tom Cheek, who died in 2005 at the age of 66, was a disc jockey, sportscaster and salesman at many Champlain Valley radio stations, including WEAV, WDOT, WJOY and WVMT.  While at WVMT, he occasionally handled play-by-play duties for the Montreal Expos, an experience that led him to be named the fulltime play-by-play announcer for the expansion Toronto Blue Jays in 1977. Cheek went on to call an 4,306 consecutive regular season games for the Blue Jays over 27 years.

Bruce James began his broadcasting career at a low-power station at Lyndon State College in the 1970s. He later leased and, in 1990, purchased the station that is now WGMT-FM in Lyndon. Soon thereafter, James added St. Johnsbury stations WKXH-FM and WSTJ-AM to the holdings of Vermont Broadcast Associates. In 2008, he put WJPK-FM Barton on the air.  The station is now known as WQJQ. James also has a passion for baseball. He’s been a professional umpire since 1986. He also served more than 20 years on the Lyndon selectboard and is a former president of the VAB.

The 2012 VAB Broadcaster of the Year Award will be presented to WVNR-AM/WNYV-FM owner and morning show host Judy Leech of East Poultney. She recently served as the VAB President, only the second woman to hold the position.

The 2012 VAB Distinguished Service Awards will be presented to WCAX-TV weather forecaster Sharon Meyer and WDEV-AM talk show host Mark Johnson.


This year’s Alan P. Noyes Community Service Award goes to Bruce Zeman and Hobbes of WVTK-FM Middlebury. Zeman is the GM and morning show host and Hobbes, a dog rescued from domestic abuse, is his canine co-host. Zeman is a crusader for pet adoption and in the last year has found new homes for almost 300 animals. He and Hobbes helped raise $25,000 for a new shelter for the Addison County Human Society. He has also devoted hours of airtime for many other community issues, including anti-bullying and anti-domestic violence campaigns.

Two other VAB Community Service Awards will be presented at the Dec. 1 awards banquet.  TJ Michaels of Nassau Broadcasting’s Barre stations, WORK-FM, WWFY-FM and WSNO-AM, will be honored for organizing the annual Stuff-A-Truck Food and Funds Drive for the Central Vermont Salvation Army Emergency Food Shelf. Since its inception in 2002, the campaign has raised more than 115,000 tons of food and more than $65,000 in cash for the food shelf.

Montpelier’s WNCS-FM will also be honored for its annual “Harpoon Point to Point” fundraiser for the Vermont Food Bank. Started in 2002 in a partnership with Harpoon Brewery, the annual bike marathon has raised more than a half million dollars for the Vermont Food Bank, including $110,000 last year.

“It’s very important to recognize the great community services our member stations provide,” said VAB Executive Director Jim Condon. “Every year, Vermont’s radio and television stations donate millions of dollars of airtime to help those in need and to make our state a better place to live.  We’re proud of their efforts and we hope our annual awards help encourage our stations to do even more in the future.”

For more information about this year’s awards event, click here.

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