Veteran broadcaster Nick Clooney was surprised Monday with an award acknowledging his efforts to preserve Greater Cincinnati radio and TV history.
Clooney, 81, was presented a special Founder’s Award from Media Heritage Inc. -- the local nonprofit broadcasting archive which has displays at the Voice of America Museum in West Chester -- during the organization’s presentation of the new “Earl Hamner Storyteller” documentary at the Covington’s Carnegie Performance Center Monday night.
The former Cincinnati TV and radio newsman, variety show host, disc jockey, newspaper columnist and author has supported many preservation efforts and events, said Mike Martini, Media Heritage president.
In accepting the award, Clooney, a Maysville native, expressed his love for Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. He noted that he kept his home in Augusta, Ky., while working at TV stations in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Buffalo; hosting an ABC daytime TV game show; and hosting movies on AMC.
"This was as a great place to be. How exciting it was to be able to do all I wanted to do since I was a little boy,” Clooney said.
The younger brother of singers Rosemary and Betty Clooney began his broadcasting career at age 17, at the start of his senior year in high school, at Maysville’s WFTM-AM. He came to WLW-AM/TV in 1966 from Lexington. He hosted his last radio show here on WSAI-AM in 2002.
Media Heritage sponsored the tribute to Hamner, creator of “The Waltons” TV show. The Virginia native graduated from Cincinnati’s College of Music (now part of UC) in 1948, and wrote for WLW-AM until 1949. “Storyteller” director Ray Castro and actress Mary McDonough (daughter Erin on “The Waltons”) spoke about the film and Hamner, 91, who could not travel from Los Angeles for the event. McDonough also accepted a Founders Award for Hamner.
McDonough’s attendance also was special for Nick and Nina Clooney. McDonough has been a family friend since 1982, when she met their son George while he was making his film debut in Lexington on a movie that was never released.