03/28/1983 at 01:00 AM EST
Every four years there are gold medals for feats of Olympic prowess. Every year there are gold medals for Nobel accomplishments in medicine, letters and world peace. And every other month there seem to be gold medals for achievement in television. The latest nod in that direction went to Roone Arledge, cited by the International Radio and Television Society on March 9 as its Man of the Year. Arledge, president of ABC News and Sports, is already known for bringing razzle-dazzle and special effects to the news business. After the gala at the Waldorf-Astoria, he may become known as the man who made former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon sound, respectively, clever and sincere.
The catchiest segment—co-hosted by Barbara Walters, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw—was marked by foul-ups. Tom, Dan and Barbara blithely ad-libbed after botching their cues, but the high points of the evening were telegrams and videotaped greetings from celeb no-shows. "I regret that I could not be with you tonight due to a previous commitment to spark riots and unrest in the Middle East," Carter cabled from Israel. "He [Roone] may not always be right, but he's never dull," Nixon announced by videotape from New Jersey. Echoing a familiar theme of the evening, President Reagan chimed in with his encomium: "Roone, your contributions have been significant enough; I want you to know that I consider Sam Donaldson a small price to pay."
After Brokaw had complained that the evening "feels like it's been as long as The Winds of War," the five-hour fete ended with a typically understated network salute: a full-fledged fanfare from the West Point Cadet Band and Glee Club.