The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences-Upper Midwest Chapter is proud to recognize individuals inducted into the 2018 Gold & Silver Circle Honor Society. Honorees will receive their plaques at the 19th Annual Upper Midwest Regional Emmy® Awards Gala on October 6th, 2018 at the Radisson Blu Hotel at Mall of America in Bloomington, MN.
Click here to see a list of Gold & Silver Circle Honorees from 2000-Present.
These individuals have made a significant contribution to the television industry well above and beyond that required by their job. We honor their dedication and service to the industry, to NATAS, to the community and to people training for a career in the field.
The Gold & Silver Circle is not an award; it’s a society of honor. It is recognition of eligible individuals who have made a significant contribution to television well above and beyond that required by their job. That contribution can be in service to the industry, to NATAS, to the community, or to people training for a career in the field. Nominees answer to the highest standards of integrity and honor in all aspects of their personal and professional lives.
Nominations are accepted from the performing, creative, technical or administrative roles within the industry or in peripheral areas directly related to television such as commercial production, journalism or education. Neither nominators nor nominees need to be members of NATAS. The Gold & Silver Award Committee reviews all nominees past and present to make a recommendation to the NATAS-Upper Midwest Board of Governors. This year, our Board of Governor’s voted and approved the following honorees.
GOLD CIRCLE (50+ YEARS)
DON SHELBY – WCCO-TV/FREELANCE:
Don Shelby’s television career began in 1966 at WCPO-TV in Cincinnati. Following college, he joined the Air Force and was assigned to AFRTS as a television news reporter. After service, Shelby joined WCIV-TV in Charleston, SC, and in four years rose from cub reporter to anchor to news director. He was hired by KPRC-TV as an anchor/investigative reporter.
In 1978, Shelby moved to WCCO-TV where he formed the I-Team investigative unit. He also served as 5, 6 and 10:00 news anchor from 1985 until retirement in 2010. With the I-Team, Shelby won 3 Emmys, two George Foster Peabodys, the Alfred I Dupont, the Scripps Howard, the Missourian and the Sigma Delta Chi Distinguished Service Award.
Shelby’s last Regional Emmy® came in 2017 at the age of 70 for his work with Twin Cities Public Television for the program “A Conversation with Bill Moyers,” which was then picked up to ran nationally. He won the International RTNDA first place award for Investigative Journalism.
SILVER CIRCLE (25+ YEARS)
HELENE DUHAMEL – KOTA-TV: Helene is a third generation broadcaster and a fifth generation South Dakotan. She is named after broadcast pioneer and legend … Helen S. Duhamel who brought television to western South Dakota and the panhandle of Nebraska … and later into northeastern Wyoming.
Helene Duhamel joined the family business in 1981 as a summer intern in the KOTA-TV newsroom in Rapid City, South Dakota. In 1984, she graduated with a degree in Mass Communications from Stanford University and her first assignment was to cover the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco.
Over her three and a half decade career, Helene was a reporter, assignment editor, producer, anchor, … and even did the main weather one summer until a meteorologist was hired. That was back in the days with sliding maps and magnetic numbers and symbols. She always reported as a one-man-band – shooting, writing and editing all by herself, no photographer, no editor.
Helene served as News Director of KDUH-TV in Scottsbluff and KOTA-TV in Rapid City. Diagnosed with Hodgkin in 1991 at the age of 29 with an infant daughter, Helene stepped down from the role of News Director. She continued to produce, anchor, and report, specializing in medical and health news. Her “Family Healthcast” was broadcast in the market for 25 years. Among the very first in the nation to openly talk about cancer and share the experience with viewers, Helene allowed cameras on her path through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and later a double mastectomy.
Among her many awards and distinctions over the decades, Helene received the Tom Brokaw Broadcast Award, the Jane Lofgren Media Award from the American Cancer society, and many awards from the Associated Press of South Dakota, United Press International and National Federation of Press Women.
Once the Rapid City television market began consolidating, a year ago in the spring of 2017, Helene stepped away from broadcasting and joined the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office as the Public Information Officer.
LARRY WENTZ – KMEG-TV:As a child of the 60’s Larry spent many of his nights listening to AM rock and roll radio stations from far away cities like Little Rock, Denver, Oklahoma City, Chicago. It spurred his imagination and inspired a quest to find out about the world beyond his small, hometown of Blue Earth, Minnesota.
He got his first job in broadcasting at the local radio station, but it wasn’t the glamorous position of “disc jockey” that he was expecting. His first duties at KBEW Radio were collecting past due bills and painting the station’s garage. Eventually patience paid off in on-air work. There were even some days he signed on the air at sunrise and remained at the controls until signoff at sunset. He loved it.
A chance visit led Larry to Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa in 1973. It was his professor and mentor Jack Shelley (a former WHO Radio and TV news director) who steered him towards news and eventually a part time job as a reporter/anchor at WHO Radio in Des Moines in 1976.
It was an interview Larry conducted with potential, Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan (a former WHO Radio sportscaster) that caught the attention of Larry’s managers who eventually hired him full time.
A few years later Larry made the move from the radio newsroom to TV newsroom of WHO. Through the years he’s held nearly every job in a newsroom from reporter, producer, anchor, managing editor and news director. He’s even stepped in to do weather and sports when disparately needed.
Throughout the years Larry has been involved with numerous organizations and served as a guest speaker at dozens of functions. His latest passion has been as an advocate for organ donations. In 2012 Larry underwent a life-saving liver transplant at the Nebraska Medical Center. Every day in the U.S. about 17,000 people are waiting for a liver transplant. Only about a third get one. Larry is a strong believer in using his second chance at life to help others who face the same, overwhelming odds.
JERRY WATSON – KTTC-TV: Jerry is the middle child of ten kids which some say explains a lot! He was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska School of Journalism in 1974.
He began his television career in 1980 as an Account executive and soon after, sales manager at WOWT Television in Omaha. In 1984 the San Francisco Chronicle promoted him to Corporate Vice President of Sales based in Wichita Kansas at KAKE TV.
In 1990 with two beautiful little girls and 2-year-old identical twin boys, Jerry and his wife, Sherrie put family first and made the difficult decision to get out of the “big market” fast lane and move to Rochester, Minnesota where he was named Vice President and General Manager of KTTC Television, Inc.
In 2000 he took on the additional responsibilities of overseeing Rochester’s FOX affiliate, KXLT. Then in 2004 Jerry was named to a dual role of Vice President/General Manager of KTTC/KXLT and KTIV, the NBC affiliate in Sioux City, Iowa. He also stepped in for a brief stint as General Manager of Madison’s WKOW in 2006 as he assisted Quincy Media in the search for a permanent GM. In 2010 Jerry was given additional responsibility as Regional Vice President of Quincy Media overseeing roughly half of the QMI stations in four states.
Through the years he has served on just about all the community/business boards there are in Rochester. He is always tuned in to community looking for ways his stations can contribute to the needs of not only local/regional causes but national as well. He led many disaster relief assistance drives and established KTTC annual events to aid families in need.
Jerry also served on the Minnesota Broadcasters Association Board of Directors for several years, chairing that organization twice in 1999-2000 and 2003-2004. Currently, Jerry remains active with several big four network initiatives and serves on the National Association of Broadcasters Small Market Advisory Council.
DEXTER GRONSETH – KELO-TV: Dexter’s interest in television began with a high school television production class over 40 years ago in Sioux Falls, SD, home of KELO-TV (also known as KELOLAND much to the dismay of regional competitors.) Starting in production plugging in commercials and running tapes during newscasts, Dexter quickly moved into news and served as Chief Photographer and then as Assignment Editor for the last 23 years.
During his time at KELO Dexter has seen it all, or more accurately, covered it all. From being on the inside the walls of prison riots, working undercover with federal, state and local law enforcement on one of the state’s largest drug busts, exposing a religious cult with multi-state ties which tore apart hundreds of influential families, countless weather-related storms, plane crashes to building collapses and prison executions.
Dexter strongly acknowledges what he has learned from others in the last 40+ years and believes in sharing his knowledge and experience with those on his team. Time spent mentoring and training reporters, photographers and on-air talent often means the loss of staff as they move on to larger markets but also the inspiration to those that choose to stay to dig deeper, work harder and further develop the team KELO has long been known for.
Dexter’s belief that public access to the judicial system is critical in understanding how the system works and what public tax dollars pay for created a strong interest opening up courtroom hearings to the public. Dexter’s role as Media Coordinator with the South Dakota Supreme Court was instrumental in bringing about cameras in the state Supreme Court and later to state and local circuit and magistrate courts.