For the first time in two years, the sports-broadcasting industry reunited last night for the 2020-21 Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the New York Hilton Midtown. After last year’s ceremony was delayed due to the pandemic, industry legends from both in front of and behind the camera were inducted during a memorable, emotional evening hosted by Lesley Visser, a Hall of Famer herself. All table sales for the 14th annual ceremony, totaling more than $200,000 this year, are once again being donated to the Sports Broadcasting Fund, which supports industry members in times of need.
This year’s ceremony honored 10 sports-broadcasting greats: NBA legend and TNT analyst Charles Barkley, longtime CBS Sports and Fox Sports host James Brown, handheld camera operator Don Cornelli, former PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, YES Network production chief John Filippelli, Sony technology guru Hugo Gaggioni, NBC Sunday Night Football producer Fred Gaudelli, trailblazing sportscaster Phyllis George, and Turner Sports operations stalwart Tom Sahara.
Don Cornelli, The Lens Through Which America Watches Sports
Anyone who has watched an NFL broadcast in the last 30 years has seen a Don Cornelli shot. Whether it’s on the football field, the hardcourt, the fairway, or anywhere else a sports event is taking place, Cornelli and his handheld camera can somehow be found in the right place at the right time to capture the money shot. Cornelli has been a camera operator for NFL football for 30 years and has also covered a large number of other sports: NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA, PGA, NASCAR, the Olympics, and the World Cup. Known for his handheld-camera work, Cornelli endeavors to get viewers as close as possible to the action and is a mainstay on the sidelines of some of the NFL’s biggest games.
CLICK HERE for Don Cornelli’s full profile.
Fred Gaudelli, Father of the Modern Pro-Football Broadcast
Few — if any — individuals have had as indelible an impact on the look and feel of NFL broadcasts over the past three decades as Fred Gaudelli. The producer of NBC’s Sunday Night Football, ABC’s Monday Night Football, and ESPN’s Sunday Night Football has reimagined how viewers watch pro football, deploying groundbreaking technical innovations, inimitable storytelling tactics, and an impeccable sense of style to bring the game into the modern age for millions of fans. Currently, Gaudelli is executive producer of NBC’s Sunday Night Football, having spent more than 30 years as lead producer for an NFL primetime game. A 24-time Emmy Award winner, Gaudelli has produced six Super Bowls (and will work his seventh in February).
CLICK HERE to read Fred Gaudelli’s full profile.
Charles Barkley, the Voice of the NBA Player
Many sports fans know Charles Barkley’s manifold nicknames: Sir Charles, the Chuckster, the Round Mound of Rebound. Now they have a new one to learn: Sports Broadcasting Hall of Famer. An unabashed analyst on one of the most successful studio shows in the history of sports entertainment, Inside the NBA, Barkley is always willing to discuss any topic at any time and go toe-to-toe with anyone in the business. His brutal honesty has provided unfettered insights into the psyche of a professional basketball player and a character who plays by his own set of rules. Barkley, who is in his 16th season as an analyst on Inside the NBA, accepted his induction remotely from the TNT’s studio in Atlanta.
CLICK HERE for Charles Barkley’s full profile.
Phyllis George, Trailblazing Sportscaster
She was Miss America. She was a co-host on Candid Camera. But it wasn’t until Phyllis George made the move to The NFL Today in 1975 that her popularity became apparent: her presence on the show made it appointment viewing. George broke through as a sportscaster in 1974 and, the following year, joined the team of The NFL Today. She played a key part of the show for the next three years, and again from 1980-84. She was an inspiration to a generation of women who followed her on air, changing sports broadcasting forever. George, who passed away in 2020, was honored by her daughter Pam Brown and son Lincoln Brown at the ceremony.
CLICK HERE to read Phyllis George’s full profile.
Hugo Gaggioni, Technical Visionary
Sports productions are divided into two camps: above the line and below the line. And then there is a third camp: the technology world of manufacturers and innovators who make the work of the other two possible. And when it comes to leaders from that camp, few are equal to Hugo Gaggioni, CTO, Imaging Products and Solutions Americas Professional Group, Sony Electronics. Gaggioni joined Sony in 1988 and since then has been a key force in the company’s efforts around next-generation formats like the move to digital recording formats, HDTV, UHD, and more. He holds several patents and has authored more than 40 technical publications in the areas of video compression, digital filter banks, HDTV, and UHDTV devices and systems.
CLICK HERE to read Hugo Gaggioni’s full profile.
Tim Finchem, Transformative Leader
When Tim Finchem retired in 2017 after 22 years as PGA TOUR commissioner, he had transformed the game and its relationship with fans on the course, watching on TV, watching on portable devices, and, yes, the computer at the office for the diehards who want to watch golf play from sunrise to sunset. He helped introduce the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Presidents Cup, and World Golf Championships. And the 1997 rights deal he negotiated changed the relationship between TV and golf forever as it required every round of every tournament be carried on TV. Finchem, who served as PGA Tour commissioner from 1994 to 2016, accepted the honor remotely.
CLICK HERE to read Tim Finchem’s full profile.
Tom Sahara, a Key Force in Operations
Like many an engineer, former Turner Sports VP, Operations and Technology, Tom Sahara had an inkling at a young age that he had a knack for engineering and broadcast technology. That early obsession would eventually lead to a 20-plus–year career at Turner Sports and a role as a key force in the broadcaster’s becoming a top-notch sports powerhouse. And Sahara’s efforts at Turner Sports — particularly around developments related to HDTV, the move to digital, and next-generation audio — made him a leader on a global scale. For 21 years, Sahara served as VP of Operations and Technology for Turner Sports where he oversaw the studio and remote broadcast facilities for Turner Sport’s live event coverage, as well as its online properties. He also played a key role in Turner’s production collaboration with CBS Sports on events like March Madness and the PGA Championship. He also served as Chairman of the SVG Advisory Board from 2013 to 2018.
CLICK HERE to read Tom Sahara’s full profile.
John Filippelli, a New York Champion With Global Prestige
“Flip” is one of the more respected, influential, and accomplished leaders in the history of sports media, and his career is a rare one, spanning both the executive suite and the front bench. His current role as executive producer and president, production and programming, for New York-based YES Network, is an appropriate exclamation point on a career that has engrained memories in the minds of sports viewers and altered the careers of countless sports broadcasters for nearly five decades. Over his 46-year career, he has left an indelible mark on both the national and RSN stages, leaving a legacy of sustained excellence and consistency at NBC, FOX, ABC/ESPN, The Baseball Network, and the YES Network.
CLICK HERE to read John J. Filippelli’s full profile.
James Brown, All-World Host and Human Being
Integrity. Class. Warmth. Intelligence. All words one would use to describe James Brown before even touching his excellence as a sports broadcaster. A staple of the sports-television industry for nearly four decades – including CBS’s The NFL Today and previously Fox NFL Sunday – the man affectionately known simply as “J.B.” has established himself as the gold standard for the host of a live sports studio show. A winner of three Emmy Awards, Brown has been a fixture of NFL Sundays since 1994 and has hosted the Super Bowl show a record 10 times, including most recently at Super Bowl LV in February 2021.
CLICK HERE for James Brown’s full profile.