By Hannah Osborne
The Georgia Association of Broadcasters (GAB) 2024 Hall of Fame class will be celebrated at an induction ceremony on Friday, March 22, 2024.
The GAB Hall of Fame recognizes the big-name legends and small-town greats from all around the state. Each nominee must have a minimum of 20 years in broadcasting, have attended school, lived, or worked in the state of Georgia, have a solid record of achievement, and a history of dedication to the communities they serve.
This award is special because each Hall of Fame member is nominated and voted on by their peers and selected by a panel of qualified judges to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Ben Henson, who works with the GAB as a contracted event planner, is setting all of the arrangements to make the 2024 Hall of Fame induction ceremony a night for the newly named inductees and their loved ones to remember.
These efforts have included handling the end-to-end logistical planning for the Hall of Fame banquet – sourcing, negotiating and managing relationships with vendors, caterers and entertainment, among others. Henson plays an essential role in the execution of the event beginning with setting the dates and launching registration.
Henson sat down with GAB Digital Communications Associate, Hannah Osborne, to share what the Hall of Fame means to the organization and what broadcasters can expect in 2024.
How long have you been event planning, and how long have you been event planning for the GAB?
I spent the first 10-15 years of my career in various TV and radio roles, where I was involved in a lot of live productions. I scouted venues, created production schedules, wrote scripts, edited videos, and so on. When Bob Houghton hired me as GAB’s communications director in 2014, no one on the team was doing event planning in a full-time capacity. We were a small team and only managed a handful of events each year.
Around that time, Bob (Houghton) and the board decided it was time to bring back the long-dormant annual convention. My live production background seemed like a natural fit in the event planning space, so I jumped at the chance to lead that effort. And here we are today. Though I’m no longer a full-time employee with GAB, I’m still quite proud to have a hand in the events that bring value to our members.
What does the GAB Hall of Fame mean to broadcasters?
The world of broadcasting is small. I often joke that we have all been hired or fired by the same station manager at least once in our careers. That interconnectivity creates a shared narrative and strengthens our professional community. So, when it comes to honoring those among us who have made an indelible impact on the state and our industry, that pool of candidates becomes quite deep (and personal).
What changes are being made to the event for the Hall of Fame Induction ceremony 2024?
Let’s start with a bit of history. (Read the full list of inductees here) For decades, the Hall of Fame was part of an event called Winter Institute. In years past, this was a sort of mini-convention that brought together GAB members and faculty, staff, and students from the University of Georgia’s Grady College. To hear it told, this was a must-attend event for anyone in local broadcasting – especially radio. There were vendor parties, an exhibit hall and no shortage of who’s who in the industry. Remember, this was back when most radio stations were independently owned. As with much of the industry, consolidation pulled the rug out of a lot of these events. Years passed and Winter Institute eventually consisted mostly of student attendees, one education session, the Hall of Fame luncheon and the DiGamma Kappa annual banquet. And while COVID effectively put the final nail in the coffin of Winter Institute, it opened the door for us to reshape GAB’s Hall of Fame and give it the shine it deserves.
It started with a three-year strategic plan to turn the Hall of Fame into a hallmark event for Georgia Broadcasting. Year 1 was 2023. We knew that to increase attendance we had to increase accessibility. That’s why we moved the Hall of Fame ceremony to Atlanta – easy access by planes, trains and automobiles, so to speak. We also decided to turn the Hall of Fame into an evening event. What resulted was our highest-attended induction ceremony in recent memory. Our new venue, The Emory Conference Center Hotel, has one of the more beautiful settings in Atlanta and its staff is amazing.
Now we find ourselves moving into Year 2. We will still be at Emory but in a much larger ballroom. There will be an indoor-outdoor cocktail reception with live music and an increased emphasis on the AV experience during the banquet itself.
Why are these changes significant?
The changes signify our commitment to increase the quality and visibility of this event. One of the benefits of taking this three-year approach is that we can test and try new things. That’s why I always welcome feedback from our inductees, attendees and any other GAB member on how we can make the next event better. The last thing I would mention about this upcoming Hall of Fame banquet is that it coincides with GAB’s 90th anniversary year, so expect to see a lot of special additions that you wouldn’t normally see at one of our events.
What are your hopes for the Hall of Fame in the next 3-5 years?
2025 will mark year 3 of our strategic plan. My hope is by then, we will have turned the GAB Hall of Fame Banquet into the premier event that it is meant to be – a star-studded black-tie gala that all of Georgia will be talking about.
What are you most excited about for the Hall of Fame ceremony 2024?
I’m excited about the progress we have seen so far in our three-year plan and the willingness of our board, members, and inductees (past and present) to go along with us for this ride.
The 2024 GAB Hall of Fame is an event that you won’t want to miss. The induction of the Hall of Fame Class of 2024 will take place at Emory Conference Center Hotel in the Lullwater Ballroom on the evening of March 22, 2024. Dress code for the event is cocktail attire. Preceding the ceremony will be a cocktail reception, followed by the banquet at 6 p.m. to officially induct the guests of honor.