The clinking of glasses, the smell of perfumes and joy filled introductions encompassed some of the sights and sounds of one of the biggest evenings in the short lived history of Salt + Light Television. Could it really be? Were we really sitting inside the same walls that housed the Academy Awards in the 20s and 30s, where Hollywood’s best once trod, blinding the wait staff with the sparkle of their jewels? Was it really our name that we heard called to the podium to receive a most prestigious award for television station of the year? After several pinching attempts, our team of six Salt + Light representatives determined that it was in fact really happening. Though we were certainly not diamond clad, we did show up at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in our Sunday best to receive in hand one of the many angels who would come our way during our weekend stay in Los Angeles, California (more on that to come).
It’s hard to describe the joy and gratitude we all felt standing on the stage, award in hand. The joy stemming of course from being recognized for the work we do and the mission that drives it. Producer David Naglieri expressed it best during his turn at the mic:
"We want to thank the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals for this significant recognition which is especially meaningful to us this year as we have launched two new series and two new documentaries, all of which uplift the human spirit and celebrate what Abraham Lincoln called the better angels of our nature."
Producer Mary Rose Bacani also had a chance to speak expressing the gratitude we feel not only towards the Catholic Academy for recognizing that our goals as a network fall well in line with what the Gabriel Awards
stand for but also towards:
"Our founders the Gagliano Family, the Knights of Columbus and our Board of Directors without whose support our stories wouldn’t be warming television screens across the nation and beyond."
The first to speak on our behalf was Salt + Light’s Director of Programming and Production Gita Hosek who began by sharing with the audience that:
"Our CEO Fr. Thomas Rosica could not join us to accept this award,” (one the many fruits of his outstanding leadership of the network and his undying pursuit of making God’s kingdom come) “…due to his appointment by the Holy Father as English language press attaché for the 2008 Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church."
Gita went on to express “how much we value the honour of having been chosen, after only five years of existence and a staff averaging 25-35 years of age, to join the larger Gabriel Award winning family” which, for many years has included production companies such as the CBC, World Vision Report and Walt Disney Studios (to name a few).
The stage was more than big enough to accommodate all the other members of the Salt + Light family whom we wish could have stood beside us. Our list includes those in front, behind and even far removed from the camera who are equally deserving of this honourable recognition.
I caught myself several times staring in awe of both the coworkers that surrounded me and the other winners in the television, feature film, documentary and radio categories. Throughout the evening, the large screen mounted behind the podium was prompted to feature short clips of the winning pieces directly after their announcement. Every clip left me wanting more. It quickly became obvious that faith, passion and love were at the root of every winning production. Each program held a message of dignity, love and compassion and the fact that these virtues were all being recognized in a part of the continent that is often awarded for promoting the very opposite of these human qualities, left me filled with a sense of hope for the future of values-based media and humbled to be surrounded by those whose talent and courage are indeed impacting the world.
With that, I raise my cyber glass to propose yet another toast to all of this year’s winners of the 2008 Gabriel Awards, to its many supporters who make it all possible and to the city who for us this weekend, truly lived up to its name.