Channel 7 Team Wins At Broadcast Excellence Awards

April 14, 2012 Updated Oct 30, 2013 at 8:49 PM EDT

By WKBW News

April 14, 2012 Updated Oct 30, 2013 at 8:49 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (April 13, 2012 release): Several members of the Channel 7 team took home top honors at the inaugural Buffalo Excellence in Media Awards (BEMAs). The night provided a lot of excitement and surprises for the Western New York media community.

The Buffalo Broadcasters Association presented the first-ever event with almost 225 media members and their guests attending at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens in Depew.

Kendra Eaglin from Channel 7's Eyewitness News and STAR 102.5 FM’s Rob Lucas served as the official co‐hosts of the BEMAs.

A number of high profile Western New York celebrities presented the awards including U.S. Rep. Kathy Hochul, former Buffalo Sabre Danny Gare, former Buffalo Bill Booker Edgerson and Veteran Television Newscaster and 2007 Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame Inductee Susan Banks.

The awards recognized the outstanding achievements of individuals as well as radio, television, print and digital companies in Western New York. The judging of the nominations was administered by an impartial group of respected industry professionals primarily from outside Western New York.

The 2012 winners from Channel 7 were:

Backpack Multi-Media Journalist of the Year
Ed Reilly/WKBW‐TV

Trailblazer Award
Linda Pellegrino/WKBW‐TV

Other nominees from Eyewitness News were multi-media journalist Jaclyn Asztalos in the Backpack category, and multi-media journalist Jason Gruenauer as Rising New Star.

“We are ecstatic about our inaugural event. It went better than we ever hoped and we’re really looking forward to making next year’s BEMAs bigger and better,” concluded Heidi Raphael, chairperson of the BEMAs.

Here is more on Ed Reilly, Linda Pellegrino, Jaclyn Asztalos, and Jason Gruenauer:

Ed Reilly is a Multi-Media Journalist on Eyewitness News.

Ed is the oldest of eight kids and grew up in Niagara Falls, NY. He was part of the first graduating class from Niagara Catholic High School in 1976, and graduated from Niagara University in 1980.

Ed started his career at WKBW as an intern in January of 1980 and was hired full time in November of that same year. Ed has won awards for photography from the Associated Press, United Press International, National Press Photographers Association and has been nominated for a New York Emmy.

Ed started as a Multi-Media Journalist in August 2009.

Other highlights of Ed's carrer include:
- Covered USAFR 914th in first Gulf War (December 1990) - traveled with Keith to United Arab Emirates
- Covered Ronald Reagan Press Conference in White House
- Covered Pope John Paul II visits to Miami and Toronto
- Flew as part of combat supply mission to Haiti with Keith
- Worked on nationally acclaimed "Cry for Life" project with Ann Edwards (won an award from the White House)
- Produced video for high schoolers on the dangers of drunk driving
- Covered Republican National Convention with Mike Randall in 1984
- Shot exclusive video of angry father stabbing his daughters abductor (1983)
- Willie Williams video was played on ABC Nightline & HBO

Ed's hobbies include camping, reading, model airplane/rocket construction & RC flying.

Ed's favorite stories as a photographer/editor are:
"Warplane Reunion" - Linda Pellegrino
"Gulf War" - Keith Radford
Various ghost stories with Mike Randall

Jason Gruenauer is a Multi-Media journalist on Eyewitness News, Jason also fills in as a Sports Anchor for Eyewitness Sports.

He was born and raised in Lancaster, NY. He attended Syracuse University and graduated with a degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse.

He is an avid sports fan and follows everything Buffalo and Syracuse. Go Orange!


Jaclyn Asztalos is a Multi-Media Journalist for "Eyewitness News This Morning" and "Eyewitness News at Noon" on WKBW-TV.

Jaclyn is finally home sweet home after a nearly a 10 year tour of the south. After graduating from Syracuse University’s prestigious S.I Newhouse School of Public Communications, she started her career at WROC-TV Rochester, New York and worked in promotions for the station.

She then moved to the deep south where she reported at WGXA-TV in Macon, Georgia. Jaclyn covered everything from crime, to entertainment news and military stories at the nearby Robins Air Force Base.

Nearly four years later, Jaclyn made her way to Raleigh, North Carolina to work at WNCN-TV. People nicknamed her “half back” because she was “half way back” to her hometown of West Seneca, New York. Jaclyn got to know the area well. She covered big news that affected many people and also stories that made a difference in the small communities outside the city. After calling the South her home for so long, she now alternates between “you guys” and “ya’ll” when referring to her friends.

Now, Jaclyn is excited to be home and working at Channel 7. She loves Western New York because of the people and says it is truly the “City of Good Neighbors”.

Jaclyn is a die hard Bills, Sabres and Syracuse Orange fan. She loves working out, traveling, football season and spending time with her husband, dog Stella, all of her family and friends.


Linda Pellegrino is the host of AM Buffalo weekdays at 10am and Local Proud at 11:30am Saturdays.

In her years at WKBW-TV, Linda has conducted thousands of live interviews with personalities ranging from the biggest Hollywood stars, to astronauts, world-famous doctors, experts, elected officials, and British royalty.

In addition to contributing feature stories to AM Buffalo and Eyewitness News as a reporter, Linda was the weathercaster for Eyewitness News, and for Good Morning Western New York, the early morning newscast. For her outstanding work on Eyewitness News and on AM Buffalo, Linda was nominated twice for New York State Emmy Awards.

Besides doing voice-overs for many national TV and radio commercial spots, Linda contributes her professional talents to various local shows produced by Buffalo's Catholic Diocese, for which she won a Gabriel award for her narration in a video entitled: The Snowman Knows.

Outside of the TV station, Linda leads a very active life in the community. She has served as Honorary Chairperson for the physically and emotionally challenged at Buffalo's Heritage Centers, on the adopting Hope Project with Wendy's restaurants, and on various Variety Club Telethon-related fundraisers. Since 2000, she has served on the Board of Directors of the Hunter's Hope Foundation to prevent leukodystrophys. For her good work in the community over the years, and for serving as a positive role model, Linda was voted Italian-American of the Year in 2000 by the Italian-American Society of Western New York.

Prior to joining Channel 7, Linda was a popular host on WWKB Radio, Oldies 104, and WBEN. Her weather reports were heard for three years on WGR-AM. Linda's television credits also include a stint as movie host on WUHF-TV Channel 31 in Rochester and also on WUTV, the Fox affiliate in Grand Island.

A native of Suffern, New York, Linda obtained her Associates Degree at Rockland Community College and her Bachelor's Degree in Broadcast Communications at SUNY Brockport. Linda resides in Cheektowaga with her husband, Bob, and their son, Brett, whom viewers first got to know during Linda's pregnancy throughout 1991. When Linda and Bob renewed their wedding vows after 20 years of marriage, Linda treated her fans by sharing the moment with them in a televised public ceremony.

In December of 2010 Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent treatment and a double mastectomy with reconstructive surgery. Following that, Linda was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. After aggressive treatments, Linda is healthy and returned to the host chair full time in May of 2011.

The non‐profit Buffalo Broadcasters Association was formally organized in 1996 with membership consisting of media professionals and the general public. The organization is dedicated to preserving and promoting WNY's rich local broadcasting history, saluting and encouraging quality broadcasting today and in the future, and most importantly to promote quality broadcasting. Future plans call for a permanent resource center and digitization of the film and video of the Buffalo television stations. During the year public events, lectures, and informal gatherings are held. The keystone event is the Western New York Broadcast Hall of Fame Induction ceremony held every fall.