Hours before they sprang into action to cover the earthquake last week, the NBC4 news team gathered at the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters awards luncheon because the acclaimed news anchors Colleen Williams and Chuck Henry were being honored for more than 30 years of award-winning journalism. It seemed everyone wanted to be there to praise them. NBC4 president and general manager Steve Carlston said, “Their legacy is a tradition of excellence.”
At the Sportsmen’s Lodge to laud Williams and Henry was sky reporter Alex Calder who noted that Colleen is so dedicated to her job during her free time she listens to the scanners. Jeff Wald, who was a rival news director at KTLA, said, “Chuck and Colleen are respected because they are smart, honest, straightforward and know how to do it all. They know storytelling.”
Also on the dais with PPB Board Chair Jeanne De Vivier Brown was Kelly Lang, the news anchor who turned into a bestselling mystery author, telling everyone why she thinks “Colleen is so perfect.” Comic and LA radio icon Rick Dees (of “Disco Duck” fame) got a lot of laughs, especially when he noted that “Chuck Henry’s hair has its own contract.” But it was weather wizard and all-around nice guy Fritz Coleman who explained the litany of reasons Williams and Henry were so deserving of the PPB honor. Fritz mentioned all the hard-hitting news stories that they have covered with exceptional professionalism, from earthquakes, fires, and riots, to Kardashian media frenzies. “Anchor people earn their money when all hell breaks loose.” He revealed they have turned the news room into another family.
PPB President Chuck Street presented the Art Gilmore Career Achievement award to Colleen Williams and Chuck Henry. It was noted that Williams is the recipient of many honors, including multiple Emmy and Golden Mike Awards. Additional awards include an L.A. Emmy and Golden Mike for her work on NBC4’s special ‘LA Riots: Rubble to Rebirth’; and a Golden Mike and Associated Press Award for her coverage of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games Centennial Park bombing for ‘Best Live Coverage of a News Story.’
Born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Williams traveled the U.S. and Canada as an Air Force “brat.” She met her husband, then an Air Force major, while on assignment during the Persian Gulf War. They have a grown son and reside in Pasadena.
Known for his versatility, Chuck Henry was praised for both his hard news reports and for his lighter stories. Prior to joining NBC4 in 1994, Henry was a news anchor/reporter for KABC-TV for many years. He began his career in broadcasting in 1966 in Honolulu. Chuck has won dozens of awards and honors for his work as an anchor, host, reporter, director and producer. These include Los Angeles Area Emmys, Golden Mikes, Los Angeles Press Club Awards and a national Cable Ace Award for Best Host of a Series. A native of Los Angeles, Henry has been married for over thirty years and has four children.
Also getting the spotlight at the recent luncheon was veteran standup comic known as the “Master of Malaprop,” Norm Crosby, who was inducted into the Diamond Circle by the PPB’s first vice president Larry Vanderveen. It is an honor presented to longtime members of distinction. Vanderveen’s said that “Norm Crosby puts a smile on the face of others who need one. He is one of America’s funniest entertainers. Norm’s remarkable life began in Boston and I don’t know if he started making people laugh in his crib, but thankfully he’s been handing out belly laughs for almost that long. And for sure no one can mangle the English language so hysterically as the master of the malaprop, who has headlined the top showrooms and starred in his own TV series, Norm Crosby’s Comedy Club.”
The giving side of Crosby was also noted with his duties on telethons, and the first National Chairman for the Council for Better Hearing; he’s a Trustee of The Hope for Hearing foundation at UCLA. The Mayor of Boston proclaimed the city’s Norm Crosby Day. President Reagan made him his Special Ambassador for Better Hearing and Speech. He received the coveted Victory Award from President George H. W. Bush, and he was accorded the rare honor of laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
In recognition of Norm’s achievements in comedy and humanitarianism, he’s on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and he has received The George Burns Legend of Laughter Award.