July 04, 2012 - It won't be long before Bill Service will have to build a special trophy room for all the awards that he and Oxford Community Television (OCTV) keep receiving for their coverage of local veterans.
For the third straight year, OCTV won a State Media Award for its "exceptional" coverage of veterans' issues and patriotic activities while Service, who's commander of Oxford American Legion Post 108, won the Andy Gomolak Flying Eagle Award, which recognizes him as the Best Post Public Relations Officer in the state.
Both awards were presented at the 94th Annual State Convention for the American Legion Department of Michigan held in Kalamazoo between June 28 and July 1.
"I was shocked at the public relations (award)," Service said. "I didn't think I was going to get that one. I was surprised, but I'm so very proud of the station and the post. It's a big, big honor to me."
Service said winning three times in a row is really impressive considering there are 435 American Legion posts around the state and hundreds of television stations – between VHF, UHF and public access channels – in Michigan.
"Apparently, nobody likes to work like we do," he said.
Hours of community footage filmed and aired last year by OCTV was submitted as the station's entry for the award.
It included coverage of Oxford and Addison's Memorial Day ceremonies, Oxford Middle School's annual Americana Concert celebrating Veterans Day, the Wreaths Across America ceremony at Ridgelawn Memorial Cemetery, plus coverage of Post 108's many activities and functions including packing parties for U.S. troops serving overseas, the military history museum, Christmas and Easter events and gun shows.
For Service, winning the Flying Eagle Award a third time is an affirmation of his goals to garner more publicity for Post 108 and educate the public about everything the group does to help veterans and the community in general.
"It's good to let people see what our vets are doing," said Service, who served in the U.S. Air Force from 1959-63. "Our post is such an active place, it makes it easier for me as a photographer and a broadcaster. Our vets are pretty good people."
Many of the aforementioned events and programs were filmed by Service, who is a producer, host and videographer for OCTV.
He produces and hosts a 30-minute OCTV program called "Our Community Access" that airs at 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Service is no stranger to television. He's been working in the medium for nearly 50 years.
After he left the Air Force in 1963, he went to work as a part-time cameraman for a television station.
Over the years, he moved up the ladder, working as an engineer, a director in both the Flint and Detroit markets, a sales manager, and station general manager for ABC and NBC affiliates in Lexington, Kentucky and Augusta, Georgia, respectively.
One of the highlights of Service's TV career was a one-hour program he produced about Roy and Patty Disney entitled "Disney Continues."
In 1988, he won a National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) award for this program. The award was presented to him by legendary entertainer Bob Hope.
Service retired in 2003, took a break for about a year, then went to work part-time for OCTV.
OCTV is now in its 32nd year of operation and covers everything in the Oxford-Addison area including local government meetings, community events, school plays and concerts, and Wildcat sporting events.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.