By Hannah Osborne
GABCON 2023 was an event to remember.
For the first time since 2017, the annual convention once again took place at the beautiful Jekyll Island. The Georgia Association of Broadcasters welcomed hundreds of broadcasters to the Jekyll Island Convention Center for a weekend of learning, connecting, and celebrating Georgia broadcasting!
Festivities began on Friday, Sept. 15, with a “Cocktails and Critters” opening night reception, generously sponsored by the Georgia Farm Bureau. The Georgia Sea Turtle Center brought out turtles and snakes for attendees to learn about and pet while enjoying each others’ company. Children were having a blast learning about their new cold-blooded friends and participating in The Great GABCON Scavenger Hunt!
The Great GABCON Scavenger Hunt was a unique addition to this year’s GABCON.
Attendees and their families were prompted to accomplish up to 40 unique tasks to earn points that were later entered into a raffle drawing for incredible prizes that included a 4-night stay in a luxury RV, two tickets to see “Hamilton” at the Fox, and so much more!
Saturday morning started early with Breakfast with Exhibitors and an exclusive breakfast with the GAB’s 2023 Georgian of the Year, Gretchen Corbin, President of the Georgia Lottery.
Throughout the day, the exhibitors’ hall offered an opportunity for attendees to interact with exhibitors and with each other, while enjoying a warm cup of coffee to keep them energized.
Following the breakfast, educational sessions began!
The 2023 educational tracks consisted of more than a dozen interactive sessions in four different categories. These tracks were sales, engineering, news & media, and management. Educational sessions were also dedicated to updating broadcasters on the current FCC legal updates.
Between the fascinating educational sessions, attendees took a break to enjoy a hot meal during the GAB Honors Lunch. This year’s luncheon was emcee’d by none other than WSB-TV’s Jorge Estevez!
The annual Honors Luncheon is an opportunity to recognize the recipients of the Georgian of the Year, the Legislator of the Year, and the Golden Mic recipient. This year’s awards went to three incredible Georgians who have made a significant impact on the broadcasting industry.
- The Georgian of the Year – Gretchen Corbin, President of the Georgia Lottery
- The Legislator of the Year – Representative Buddy Carter, 1st District
- The Golden Mic Recipient – Tom McCall, President of the Georgia Farm Bureau
Additionally, we honored the backbone of our broadcasting stations: our engineers. Our Ditty-McLemore Awards are nominated by and voted on by their fellow engineers. This year’s honorees have more than 100 years of engineering experience and have been exemplary in their support of their fellow broadcasters.
Our individuals included:
- Gary Alexander, WSB-TV
- Chris Hall, Reel Audio Engineering
- Earl Welsh, Advanced Communications
After we handed out our awards, Gretchen Corbin, Tom McCall, and Buddy Carter sat down for a panel discussion, alongside Georgia Power’s Audrey King, with moderation coming from Jorge Estevez.
Our purpose was to highlight the strategies and challenges in building mutually beneficial media partnerships between broadcasters and Georgia’s corporate and political leadership. During this discussion, we learned how each organization relies on local media, including what has worked and what has not, and answered the question, “What can we, as broadcasters, do to build stronger relationships with local leaders?”
Saturday afternoon concluded with more thought-provoking sessions.
Evening festivities began with a GABBY Awards Cocktail Reception, sponsored by the Georgia Department of Driver Services. As the clock struck 7 p.m., broadcasters began to reappear dressed to the nines for an incredible night of celebration. While mingling in the excitement of the much-anticipated GABBY Awards Ceremony, attendees were invited to enjoy a drink and meet their fellow broadcasters.
As the doors for the ceremony opened everyone was seated for a delicious dinner and a word from President of the GAB, Bob Houghton. We were pleased to be joined by the Glynn Academy JR ROTC, escorted by Major Clint Houchins.
Succeeding Houghton, broadcasting legend Monica Pearson appeared onstage as the Emcee of our GABBY Awards show. Pearson’s dazzling presence brought the stage to life as everyone eagerly awaited the announcement of the 2023 GABBY Award Winners!
79 GABBYs were awarded in categories ranging from Best Podcast Series to Best Sports Program and Best Team Weather Coverage to Station of the Year. No rock was left unturned in the celebration of Georgia broadcasting as we highlighted the best in Georgia’s radio and television.
The evening concluded with an after party, sponsored by Szabo!
Broadcasters took to the dance floor with their GABBY Awards to celebrate another great year in broadcasting. We are so looking forward to celebrating yet another incredible year of broadcasting at next year’s annual GABCON!