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The Heartland Chapter consists of 12 DMAs in five states:
The Board meets monthly to process the business of the chapter; its membership consists of representatives from all areas of broadcast, media, production and education, both affiliated and independent.
They are proud to represent the 1031 members of our chapter and encourage you to contact them at any time.
On behalf of the Board of Governors, welcome to our 37th Annual Heartland Emmy
Awards. We are thrilled to be back at the Seawell Ballroom in Denver and the new First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City. Once again in 2022, your storytelling and creative prowess resulted in a slew of Emmy-worthy entries that are being recognized tonight. We are proud of the work you have done here in our region, and you should be too. Congratulations!
This year, we received nearly 900 entries from you in both English and Spanish. Of those, 392 were nominated, and we will be honoring 155 entries with Emmy awards tonight.
We are delighted to welcome five fantastic additions to the Silver Circle tonight. Mark Cornetta, Tim Ryan, Rick Sallinger, Dave Grant and Deborah Takahara are being inducted for 25 years or more of dedication and service beyond their job descriptions. They are innovators and trailblazers, and we’re lucky to have them in the Heartland region.
And let’s also recognize our two scholarship awardees – talented students who will soon be competing with us, and who were picked from a field of highly qualified and talented applicants. Good luck in your studies, Sarah Conner and Paige Orr!
A big thank you to the Heartland Chapter Board of Governors for all they do throughout the year to make tonight a big success. They are dedicated professionals who volunteer their considerable time and expertise to make our chapter better year after year.
And finally, a big thank you to Traci Bilek for her amazing leadership in running the Heartland Emmy office. We couldn’t do any of this without you, and it’s an honor to work alongside you.
The Heartland Chapter’s Board of Governors is comprised of members of our industry who are committed to furthering the interest of the Heartland Chapter and the Emmy® Awards. They meet monthly and volunteer their time; most are elected by the membership to a 3-year term.
Any Heartland chapter member in good standing may apply for a position on the board; elections are held in the fall.
Officers are elected by the board members to a 2-year term of office. Trustees represent our chapter in the business of the national NATAS organization.
Traveling Jules Productions, Denver
Telemundo Denver, KDEN
YGHDTV, FT. Collins
Replin Law Group, Denver
Talent-Performer, Oklahoma City
Student Production Awards
The purpose of the Awards is to provide incentives for continuing outstanding individual and production achievements within our industry and to focus public attention upon the multi-talented individuals who comprise the industry. As a result, there can be one award, more than one award, or no award in each category. This year, almost 900 entries in 154 categories were judged by television professionals in various chapters around the country: Rocky Mountain Southwest, Suncoast, Lone Star, Boston, Southeast, National/Capital, Mid-America, Michigan and Chicago/Midwest.
In accordance with national NATAS guidelines, panels of at least 7 peers scored each entry on Content, Creativity and Execution. English and Spanish language entries are judged independently. Tabulated ballots scores were compiled and checked, then a coded sheet representing the scores of the entries in each category (but without identifying features) was presented to the Awards Committee during a special Curve Cut meeting.
The committee members did not know which entries are being considered. They determined a cut-off score high enough to ensure a standard of outstanding achievement; all entries above the cut-off are considered nominees. The highest scoring entries will receive Emmy® awards. There are no winners or losers here tonight – only those who continue to make our markets representative of the best work in the country!
The success of the Emmy® Awards process depends on the willingness of qualified professionals to serve as judges.
By entering, you agree to serve as a judge when asked, and that judging must occur during calendar year of your entry.
• If you enter once, you’ll need to judge once
• If you enter twice, you’ll need to judge twice
• If you enter three or more times, you’ll need to judge at least 3 times
Those who meet these judging requirements during the current calendar year will receive substantial discounts on entry fees next year.
There are typically 6-10 opportunities to judge other chapters’ entries during the year (we call them Rounds) and all entrants are notified via email. You can also check your NATAS account online to see if judging opportunities await.
What’s the time commitment for judging? 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the category; judging can be done anywhere you have a computer; it’s all online.
When you judge 3 or more times during a calendar year, you’ll earn a $10 discount on membership dues for the upcoming year. There is no limit to the amount of judging you can do, as long as you’re qualified to judge the categories you choose. You don’t have to be a member or entrant, as long as you have experience in the category you’re judging.
The Emmy® statue is a symbol of excellence in the television industry that has been awarded by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) since 1949. NATAS is the only national nonprofit organization dedicated to recognizing outstanding achievement and improving the quality of television on all levels. In June 1986, the Heartland Chapter became the 17th chapter in the country, culminating an intense three-month campaign to meet the high eligibility standards of the Academy’s national board. Denver television executives were united and aggressive in their efforts to create a local chapter.
In 1987, the “Denver Chapter” was granted the privilege of being authorized to hold its own Emmy® Awards. For many years, only markets located within the boundaries of established NATAS chapters were eligible to participate in the local Emmy® awards and be rewarded for their best work. In 1989, the national Board of Trustees expanded the territory of the 17 existing chapters to include over 90 percent of the Unites States.
In 1991, the regional NATAS Board of Governors voted to change our name to the Heartland Regional Emmy® Awards to formally recognize the participation of other states in our chapter’s awards. Today we are known as the Heartland Chapter in recognition of the contribution of our five-state chapter area. We are one of 19 chapters nation-wide.
The Heartland Chapter Board of Governors is proud to present our chapter’s highest award to Audrey Elling, our long time Chapter Executive Director. For more than 20 years, Audrey has been managing the office for the Heartland Chapter, first as a part-time administrator and moving into the full-time executive director position.
Under her direction, the Heartland Chapter spearheaded the conception and development of the Emmy Express entry/membership/judging software, the production of regional awards presentation ceremonies running concurrently in Denver and Oklahoma City, and a growth in membership from 465 to more than 1000 members with a comparable growth in revenue.
During her tenure, she has represented our chapter locally and nationally, burnishing the reputation and brand of the Heartland Emmy Chapter to other chapters around the country, and serving on key NATAS committees. With her shiny new degree in Mass Communications, Audrey started in the industry back in the last century, landing in production with the avant-garde QUBE cable enterprise in Cincinnati, and from there into marketing. She continued her career with a division of TCI cable, and then with Netlink satellite, managing departments in customer service and training and development from Cape Cod to Denver to Seattle. Audrey’s freelance voice-over career spans 3+ decades and has earned her a regional Emmy award as a documentary narrator.
Originally from New England, Audrey makes her home south of Denver, enjoying hiking, biking, and snowshoeing under Colorado’s blue skies. She is an active volunteer with her church and has served on the board of NATAS’s Heartland chapter and on the board of The Crisis Center of Douglas County. She has a black belt in karate and a Zoom-crashing Siamese cat.
While she is very much looking forward to retirement, Audrey admits that she will seriously miss not only her wonderful Heartland Board of Governors, but also the many friends and associates she’s worked with over the years.
Mark Cornetta, Senior Vice President of VP TEGNA and President and General Manager of KUSA/KTVD-TV, began his television career at KCNC-TV Denver in the early 1980’s. While becoming a top account executive, he was recruited by KUSA-TV in 1987, becoming their General Sales Manager in 1992. He became President and General Manager of KUSA, while assuming the role of Senior Vice President of TEGNA, currently overseeing three other TEGNA stations.
He is considered one of the leaders in television in Colorado. As one of his long-time coworkers, Patti Dennis, noted, “He is often the first one in the office and often the last one to leave. If there is a news crisis, Mark is always at the station making sure the journalists have all they need to cover breaking news.”
He has also made significant contributions to the Denver community. Under his leadership, 9News has helped raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local nonprofits that include among others, Food Bank of the Rockies and Dumb Friends League, and he was one of the founders of Colorado Succeeds, a statewide business advocacy organization focused on improving Colorado’s education and workforce development systems. He worked with Trinity United Methodist Church Senior Pastor Ken Brown in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in 2020 to create forums to confront longstanding divides regarding racial perspectives. Pastor Brown said, “Mark lives the values 9News espouses – community bravery, inclusivity, passion and integrity.”
Long-time co-worker, Larry Hatteberg, sums up the career of Silver Circle Honoree Dave Grant succinctly. “If you had to design a newsroom leader, it would be Dave Grant. He has held nearly every position in the newsroom. For the staff, he is the rock, he is the calm and he is your friend. To those in upper management, he is a truth-teller. He won’t always tell them what they want to hear, but he will tell him what they “need” to hear.”
Dave Grant has been a reporter, anchor, producer, assistant news director, news director, web wizard and a bureau chief for western Kansas. Currently producer and assistant news director at KAKE since 1995, he manages dozens of reporters, photographers and producers for the daily news operation, even filling in for the web and producer team when needed. He mentors the next generation of broadcasters by organizing the station’s internship and job shadow program, giving high school and college students hands-on experience through mock storytelling and newscasts. His prior experience included stints at KWCH-TV as a reporter, producer and news anchor as well as anchor/reporter for KAYS-TV.
He believes in supporting the Wichita community through a remarkable group of non-profit organizations that include serving on the board of directors for the Greater Wichita YMCA, being a Cub Scout Leader with the Boy Scouts of America’s Quivira Council and President of the Wichita Heights High School Booster Club. The Heartland Chapter is proud to welcome Dave Grant to our distinguished Silver Circle Roster.
Deborah Takahara spent 28 years in television news, creating an impact on countless lives and used her journalism skills to right wrongs and improve lives. After graduating from the University of California at Irvine, she began working at KHBS-TV, in Fort Smith, Arkansas as a reporter, then worked at KATV-TV in Little Rock, Arkansas, working her way up to weekday morning anchor. She returned to California to work for KNSD-TV in San Diego as an anchor and reporter, with stints for NBC News, covering major news stories on the West Coast as well as reporting for KTVT-TV in Dallas.
In 2006, she began working at KDVR-TV and KWGN-TV as an anchor and reporter. Her stories range from fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and the Super Bowl, with wide-ranging interviews of both celebrities, everyday people and families who have lost everything. She never lost sight of the power of media and her impact on making people’s lives better. Just one example among her many achievements: She helped raised $1.5 million dollars as part of a station initiative to purchase rifle ready tactical gear for police and first responders whose departments couldn't afford the live-saving equipment.
In 2022, she transitioned from her journalism career into another form of public service. She's the public affairs specialist for the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado. And she hopes to utilize her unique skill set to communicate what's being done at the federal level to make our community safer. The Heartland Chapter is honored to have her among our Silver Circle Honorees in 2023.
Rick Sallinger, a true TV legend, has worked in Denver television news for more than 34 years and in broadcast news across the country and world for more than 50 years.
Rick’s career in broadcast news began at the University of Illinois where, from 1967 – 1971, he was an announcer, newscaster, reporter and program director at WPGU Radio and his first full-time radio news reporting job was at WERE Radio, Cleveland. He moved to NBC radio news at WMAQ and WNIS-FM, Chicago., transitioning to television news as a reporter for WRTV, Indianapolis. He moved to KUSA-TV Denver (then known as KBTV), with positions at WMAQ-TV Chicago, and CNN London. While Rick was a foreign correspondent for CNN, he covered international stories throughout Europe and the Mideast, that included the Gulf War, the civil war in Yugoslavia, the reunification of Germany, among others..
Now at KCNC-TV Denver for over 28 years., he is best known for his hard news coverage and investigative journalism honored in 2005 with a Peabody award, and for telling the stories of his community with a heartfelt passion that shows in each of his reports. His son, Marc Sallinger, a reporter with KUSA-TV in Denver, credits him with teaching him what it means to be a journalist and telling the stories of people who don’t feel like they have a voice, saying “The name Rick Sallinger seems to have become synonymous with Denver news and that’s because he’s covered nearly every major story in Colorado since 1993.” The Heartland Chapter welcomes Rick Sallinger to its distinguished roster of Silver Circle Honorees.
Tim Ryan began his broadcasting career in 1985. As a newly-minted graduate of the famed Missouri School of Journalism, his first job was KFSM-TV in Fort Smith, Arkansas, as a reporter, photographer, editor, producer and weekend news anchor. Moving to KAKE-TV in Wichita, Kansas, he served as assignment editor, then moved to KUSA-TV in Denver in 1991, where he began as assignment editor, then promoted to assistant news director. Stories under his leadership included the Salt Lake City Olympics, the visit of Pope John Paul II to Colorado, and the mass shootings of Columbine and the Aurora theater. He helped guide reporter mentoring, editorial content and approval, to create the thorough in-depth news coverage that is a hallmark of the station. He even managed to complete a Master’s degree in history from the University of Colorado Denver in 1997, and is famously known for is his ability to cite the Presidents of the United States of America in order along with their years in office.
In 2017, he took on the responsibilities of news director at KVUE Media Group in Austin, where he directed newsgathering staff as well as their social and digital platforms. But in 2020, KUSA recruited him back to Denver as director of content for 9NEWS, where he is responsible for recruiting journalists and leading the team producing content on all 9 NEWS platforms. KUSA President and General Manager Mark Cornetta believes, “he is as much an engaged student of the industry as he has been a leader in it.”