The AWM Foundation (AWMF) presented the 49th Annual Gracie Awards Luncheon at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City on June 18.

Host Deborah Roberts, Senior National Affairs Correspondent at ABC News and esteemed co-anchor of the iconic news magazine “20/20,” led the program alongside presenters Tiki Barber, former New York Giants running back and radio host on WFAN; Kristine Johnson, anchor on WCBS-TV NYC and CBS Mornings contributor; Chloe Melas, entertainment correspondent, NBC News; Nessa, host of NYC Hot 97 and Nessa On Air; Amina Smith, anchor of ESPN’s SportsCenter and Shelli Sonstein, radio host on iHeartMedia’s Q104.3. The program concluded with Meredith Marakovits, clubhouse reporter for the YES Network, presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to award-winning broadcaster for the New York Yankees and radio color commentator, Suzyn Waldman. AWM/F President, Becky Brooks, described the event as “the perfect culmination of a Gracies season celebrating excellence in media and a poignant lead up to the 50th Annual Gracie Awards next year.”

The Gracie Awards were presented to honorees which were previously announced in recognition of individual achievement and outstanding programming by, for and about women in local and student television, radio and digital media.

Highlights from the show included:

  • AWMF Board Chair and VP of Corporate Communications at ESPN, Katina Arnold opened the Luncheon by acknowledging "This year’s theme, “Feminine Strength, Both Large and Small,” highlights impactful contributions of women in media, whether through grand, sweeping narratives or intimate, personal and local stories in our communities."
  • Host, Deborah Roberts, of ABC News reflected, “This celebration of work has been special… I remember when I was awarded a Gracie in the early days and just how special it was and continues to be… We reveled in the woman power we felt in this room, and I feel it today.”
  • Presenter, Chloe Melas, entertainment correspondent for NBC News acknowledged that "The journey in media can be a long one, especially for women, and love seeing a room like this full of brilliant journalists telling important stories… reflected on her early career in journalism and connections and noted, “They say the pen is mightier than the sword, and I’m here to tell you that’s true.”
  • Presenter, Amina Smith, anchor on ESPN’s SportsCenter, said “celebrating students in the same awards program as those of you in local television and radio as well as the Deborah Roberts’ of the world is so inspiring.”
  • Heather Cohen, President, The Weiss Agency, AWMF Board Member and Gracies Co-Chair, introduced Emma Myers, the AWMF/Podcast Movement Scholarship recipient and noted, “The AWM Foundation plays a crucial role in the industry by providing scholarships and offering programs specifically focused on supporting women in media and their educational endeavors.”
  • Presenter, Nessa, host of NYC Hot 97 and Nessa on Air inspired the audience reflecting on her years working as a young intern and said: “This is a reminder to embrace every challenge as an opportunity. Each effort, no matter how small it seems, leads you to success. And the secret is, consistency is ALWAYS key.”
  • Presenter, Tiki Barber, former New York Giants running back and radio host on WFAN, said, "I’ve been very fortunate to have been mentored by many women, including my mother…women have played an enormous role in my media career and also my life. Tiki reflected that it hasn’t been all football, but 25 years ago he interned for WFAN and now is host.
  • Presenter, Shelli Sonstein, radio host at iHeartMedia’s Q104.3 said, "I’ve often said, “The microphone is a powerful thing, it’s a sin to have a mic and not use it to do good.”
  • Kristine Johnson, anchor of WCBS-TV NYC and contributor for CBS Mornings, noted on her career path, “Along the way I was fortunate enough to have male and female mentors on my career path, but the one thing I am noticing now and embracing now is the amount of female executives we have in our industry.”
  • Meredith Marakovits of the YES Network’s Yankees Clubhouse, introduced her friend and Gracies Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Suzyn Waldman, pointed out, "From world series wins to perfect games she was there… and she kept us informed and entertained in a way only she could… in the process she paved the way… or perhaps better stated bulldozed down the door for future generations of women in sports media.
  • Longtime sports broadcaster for the New York Yankees, Suzyn Waldman accepted her Gracies Lifetime Achievement Award and captivated the audience with stories of her four decades in sports broadcasting and also noted, “I’m probably one of the few people in this room who listened to and the saw Gracie Allen ever week on radio and then TV… there’s no I Love Lucy, without Gracie Allen, and probably an even better example, there’s no Betty White without Gracie Allen. She knew who she was, learned how to sell it perfectly for the times, and she was original. Thank you Gracie Allen…” Waldman closed with prudent advice, " I get women coming up to me all the time saying, ‘I want to be you, I want your job’… ‘ok, that’s great… but if you take MY job, there’s still only one of us, if you make your OWN job… there’s 2 of us."
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