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Two media leaders recognized for contributions

Pia Hallenberg
Pia Hallenberg

The Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media (NW-ARM), which promotes media literacy, monitors the influence of media and urges media professionals to act responsibly, presented two community media leaders with the 2014 Bill Niggemeyer Media Excellence Awards at a May 16 luncheon at Gonzaga University.

The recipients are Pia Hallenberg of The Spokesman-Review and Claude Kissler who retired in August after 46 years as producer-director, operations manager and then general manager at KSPS.

NW-ARM board member Jill Johnson, communications specialist with Community-Minded Enterprises and CMTV14, introduced Pia as “someone who uses media for positive aims.”

Pia, who studied biology at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, earned bachelor’s degrees in journalism and sociology in 1998 at Eastern Washington University in Cheney.

From then until 2004, when she started at The Spokesman-Review, she was a news reporter and associate editor at The Inlander.  At The Spokesman-Review she has been features editor, news columnist and profile writer.  She now reports neighborhood news.

Pia is involved with the Society of Professional Journalists, which supports journalists and journalism students by providing legal defense funding, continued education, educational grants and scholarships. 

Today, it’s important to be open to new possibilities of connecting through today’s technologies,” she said, noting that she uses her Facebook page to find tips for stories.  “The new media technologies mean we have to be multi-tasking journalists.”

Claude Kistler
Claude Kistler

NW-ARM board chair Dawn Bayman, director of development at KSPS, introduced Claude.

Claude began working as an intern at KSPS in 1967, when the Spokane School District started it.  He was a student at Eastern Washington University.

“His goal has been for TV to meet its potential to do good in the community,” Dawn said. 

Claude has served on various state, regional and national public television organizations.  On the City of Spokane Cable Advisory Board, he helped write the cable franchise agreement that brought about funding for the Public, Educational and Government channels in Spokane. 

He produced local shows and documentaries.  Then PBS programs came.  In 1980, he became general manager.  In 1991, he started teaching broadcast management at Gonzaga.

In 1995, he tripled the size of the building at KSPS-TV and oversaw the transition to HDTV.  He doubled the viewing audience by broadcasting into Canada.  KSPS now also includes KSPS, World and the Create channels, Dawn said.

Claude has sought to hold “near and dear to Edward R. Murrow’s vision that TV would be an instrument that can ‘teach, inspire and illuminate.’  The essence is to find ways to use this powerful media to tell stories that have meaning and value, and to bring many voices to the community.”

Given his goal to uplift the community, he said he often bristles with use of “fourth-grade-level” words in TV news, rather than words that elevate people to be better communicators.

“We have incredible media in print, on the air and online to tell stories that reach the human condition and find values,” he said. 

“I always ask how we can have conversations so we engage each other in community, regardless of political opinions,” Claude said.

“The power of media and print is that when we do a story we may make people mad enough that they think and engage with others so they work to solve problems,” he said.  “Those in leadership must continue to think.

We need to teach, inspire, illuminate, lift, engage and improve lives,” he reaffirmed.

John Caputo, professor in the communication and leadership studies program at Gonzaga and director of NW-ARM, said that the alliance started out of a community forum at West Central Community Center, looking at causes of violence and poverty. 

Originally the called the Spokane Academy of Family TV, the NW-ARM grew out of a partnership with the University of Washington and used grant money from the Washington State Department of Health and the Spokane Regional Health District that was part of tobacco settlement monies in the U.S.

At first it operated at West Central Community Center.  Then Gonzaga University gave it a home and grants to explore the influence of media on communities.

Luncheon guests also saw a video created by Riverpoint Academy student Kirsten Wyman, winner of the 2013 “Do You Buy It?” Teen Video Contest, sponsored by the NW-ARM.

In the fall, NW-ARM plans Media Fest 2014 for 100 high school students to explore media.

For information, call 313-3578 or visit

Copyright © June 2014 - The Fig Tree