4 to be inducted into WBA Hall of Fame

In the News People

The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation is proud to announce the 2023 WBA Hall of Fame inductees:

· Al Lancaster earned a reputation over this more than 40-year career as a leader of stations that succeed by numerous measures, including community service.

· Bob Meyer is known by farmers across Wisconsin for his booming voice and dedication to agriculture.

· Dr. Jonathan Øverby has bult a career of success with the core belief that “music has the power to bridge cultural divides and increase the understanding of diverse groups worldwide.”

· Joanne Williams more than 45 years in broadcasting has won her accolades and the respect of her fellow broadcasters and the members of the community she has dedicated herself to serving.

The Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame was created in 1989 to honor broadcasters that have devoted a minimum of 15 years to the broadcasting industry including a minimum of 10 years as a Wisconsin broadcaster. The award recognizes an individual’s history of exemplary leadership in community and statewide service as a broadcast professional.

The first 12 members of the Hall of Fame were inducted during the 1989 WBA Summer Conference. Since 1989, 156 outstanding broadcasters have been honored with Hall of Fame inductions.

Inductees are chosen each year from nominations by WBA members, family members and friends. Broadcasters who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame include managers, personalities, engineers, reporters, educators and those broadcasting pioneers who were all of the above.

In October 1989, Alfred C. Sykes, then Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, came to Wisconsin to formally dedicate a Hall of Fame display, including plaques honoring the inductees, at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin Library in Madison. In 2010, due to remodeling of the SHSW facility, the display was removed and put in storage.

The display now resides at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center. The Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame also has a permanent, virtual display at the online Wisconsin Museum of Broadcasting which debuted in 2009 at www.wisconsinbroadcastingmuseum.org, where the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame Gallery is one of our major attractions.

The 2023 Hall of Fame honorees will be celebrated June 15 at the 2023 Summer Conference at the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake.

Our 2023 inductees are as follows:

Al Lancaster

Al Lancaster spent most of his more than 40-year career as a leader at broadcast stations across Wisconsin in both radio and TV. The stations he has led were successful by numerous measures including award recognition, financially, and in community service.

Lancaster started his career on the air in college at WSUP at UW-Platteville and professionally at WEKZ in Monroe. He moved into sales at Mid-West Family in La Crosse where he quickly became one of the radio group’s top sellers. He shifted to television first at WKOW-TV in Madison and then as national sales manager at WXOW-TV/WQOW-TV in La Crosse/Eau Claire. He led sales leadership roles at WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo, Michigan and WEAU-TV in Eau Claire before his shift into station management.

Lancaster was station manager at WLAX-TV/WEUX-TV in La Crosse/Eau Claire for five years before, in 2000, making his final move to WSAW-TV/WZAW-TV in Wausau where he served as VP/General Manager until his retirement in 2023. The stations won numerous awards during his tenure and were honored for their community service efforts.

Lancaster served as chair for both the WBA Board and WBA Foundation Board and was active on several WBA committees.

Lancaster also served as a community leader in numerous capacities, demonstrating his commitment both to broadcasting in Wisconsin and the spirit of community service that comes with being a great broadcaster.

Bob Meyer

Bob Meyer’s competitive public speaking experience through elementary and high school led to him pursuing a career in radio. Starting with a three-year stint in the mid 1970’s, Meyer returned to WDLB-WLJY in Marshfield in 1986 as assistant farm director. Later that year he began a 30-year run as the morning drive announcer on WDLB-AM. With that, Meyer became co-host of the Goetz Farm Radio Network’s morning farm show Daybreak. In 1987 he was named Program Director for WDLB. In 1991, Meyer became Farm Director for the Goetz Farm Radio Network. Over the following decade, GFRN increased its program offerings and its affiliate list to cover the state of Wisconsin.

In 2003, GFRN was acquired by Learfield Communications; as a part of Brownfield Ag News, Meyer could now be heard on more than 350 stations in ten states.

During his long career, he conducted more than 20,000 interviews with newsmakers and people of interest in agriculture. Meyer has served on numerous boards and committees for organizations including Wisconsin Farm Technology Days and the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin. His continued support of the FFA garnered him the Honorary American FFA Degree. For 30 years he has been “the voice” of the annual Wisconsin State FFA Convention.

Farmers across Wisconsin know Bob Meyer for his booming voice and dedication to agriculture.

Dr. Jonathan Øverby

Dr. Jonathan Øverby began in radio as a student sports play-by-play announcer at Milwaukee’s Rufus King High School. After attending San Francisco State, he traveled as a concert artist. In 1994 he joined WPR as host of “The Road to Higher Ground with Jonathan Øverby” talk show. In 2007 he reinvented it as a world music broadcast.

In 2013, UW-Extension conferred on Øverby the “Distinguished” WPR Broadcaster title for his radio and statewide community service. In addition, Øverby served for two terms as Vice-Chair on the Wisconsin Arts Board. He has produced Wisconsin’s Annual “Tribute” honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for more than four decades. In 2014 he became the first Post-Doctoral Fellow in the history of Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin.

Øverby, continues his remarkable career in broadcasting, as an artist, and as an internationally recognized scholar and ethnomusicologist, honored in 2016 by U.W. Colleges and UW-Extension with the “Wisconsin Idea” Award for “outstanding contributions of service, education to society, and the quality of life in Wisconsin, the nation and the world.”

Elevated to a Chief in the Warmeru Tribe, Mount Meru, Tanzania in 2018, Dr. Øverby, a Smithsonian music lecturer, was in 2022 inducted into the Folk Alliance International Hall of Fame. He said he believes “music has the power to bridge cultural divides and increase the understanding of diverse groups worldwide.”

Joanne Williams

Joanne Williams exemplifies the values of broadcasting through her dedication to public service both on the air and in the community.

Born and educated in Milwaukee, Williams started broadcasting in high school hosting a talk show to give voice to teenagers. She started her professional career at WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee as a film editor but was soon put on the air for the first early morning newscast in the city. In 1976, she became a writer and producer at WGN-TV in Chicago and again was put back on the air as a reporter and part-time weather forecaster.

In 1978, she returned to Milwaukee and joined WITI-TV as the community relations director where she developed projects highlighting people with disabilities and a special program to increase reading proficiency among elementary and middle school students. She remained in Milwaukee the rest of her career inspired to cover the stories about her neighbors in southeast Wisconsin.

Williams helped create the Wisconsin chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and later served on the national board. In 2012, she joined Milwaukee Public Television as the host and producer of Black Nouveau.

Williams’ more than 45 years in broadcasting has won her accolades and the respect of her fellow broadcasters and the members of the community she has dedicated herself to serving.