By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
Ralph M. Oakley, president and CEO of Quincy Newspapers Inc., received the Vincent Wasilewski Award for a lifetime of excellence in broadcasting during Wednesday's Broadcaster of the Year luncheon in Normal hosted by the Illinois Broadcasters Association.
"I am very honored to receive an award voted on by my colleagues. We are fortunate to have an outstanding company, which is the result of having great people," Oakley said.
Dennis Lyle, president and CEO of the IBA, said the Wasilewski Award is the most prestigious honor bestowed by the group and Oakley is an example for other broadcasters to emmulate.
"Clearly there is no broadcaster in Illinois more deserving than Ralph. His actions speak loudly that he's a broadcaster's broadcaster, and we're fortunate to have his example in two markets in Illinois," Lyle said.
Oakley has been an IBA board member, a past chairman of the IBA board and state leadership chairman. He serves on the board of the National Association of Broadcasters and the board of the NBC Affiliates Association.
On a local level, Oakley is a past chairman of the Quincy University Board of Trustees and past chairman of the Community Foundation of the Quincy Area.
He began with the company in the mid-1970s and has worked in several QNI properties in Quincy and elsewhere. He has been on the corporate staff of QNI for 19 years, serving as the company's chief operating officer from 2002 to the end of 2008. He became QNI president and CEO on Jan. 1, 2009.
QNI is a privately held, family-owned company primarily owned by the Oakley and Lindsay families. The company is headquartered in Quincy and employs 750 people at 13 television stations, two radio stations and two newspapers serving markets that reach into 14 states. In Illinois, QNI operates The Quincy Herald-Whig, WGEM-AM-FM-TV and WREX-TV in Rockford.
Ralph Oakley becomes the fifth official with local connections and QNI service to win the top IBA award. His father, Thomas A. Oakley, QNI's longtime president and CEO, won the Wasilewski Award in 2000. Leo Henning, a longtime general manager at WGEM, won the award in 2008. The late Joe Bonansinga, a longtime WGEM-TV vice president and general manager, won in 1996, and the late F. Merrill Lindsay Jr., a former QNI chairman of the board, won in 1994.
A graduate of Quincy University, Ralph Oakley is married to the former Lisa Smith. They have two adult daughters.