By Steve Kabelowsky Contributing Columnist Published May 07, 2013 at 4:31 PM

It’s a clear dish. The award given by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association is framed in a little wood box, with a blue background.

I have one of these blue plate specials, as I like to call them, and so do a number of people who have worked in TV and radio in Milwaukee. Last weekend, the WBA handed out the 2012 awards at a gala in Madison.

WTMJ-TV Ch. 4, WTMJ-AM 620 and WLUM-FM 102.1, were the winners of the large market Station of the Year awards in television, news and talk radio and music radio, respectively. Those awards are bigger trophies and are calculated by the number of first, second and third place finishes in a number of different categories.

Like any awards in the industry, there are some pros and cons depending on the perspective. The great part is the recognition of good work based on the opinions of peers from other parts of the U.S. Usually, these groups rotate judging duties with similar organizations throughout the country. One year, I and a colleague judged the online entries for large market TV stations in Colorado. The winner got a plate-equivalent award that year.

It’s nice to be patted on the back by your peers, because they understand what it is like in the business, and the stresses that come along with the job. Another pro is that the money raised by the WBA goes to fund worth-while scholarships and programs for the future of broadcast journalism.

The con about the WBA awards is that it is pay to play. Each entry in each category has a cost involved. While not a ton of cost in the big scheme of things, there is a price tag to submitting the items to be considered. If there’s an operation that is cash-strapped for some reason, it may not enter every award category. The station of the year may only be the station that has entered and placed in the most categories … it may not be the "best" in the market.

I realize the term best is different for different people. We tend to attach opinions and support for the broadcasters we invite into our homes and cars every day.

The WBA breaks up the Milwaukee market as the only one in the large market category. Green Bay and the Fox Valley, and Madison are the medium markets, and just about everyone else is in the small market category.

As you go through the list of winners, you’ll find some standouts … and it’s a good gauge of the top stories of the last year … the rankings based on the opinions of broadcasters from some other state.

You can see the full list of winners here, and here are some of the Milwaukee TV highlights:

Large Market Television

SPOT NEWS: 1. WTMJ-TV, Temple Massacre (compilation of 11 hours of wall-to-wall breaking news coverage); 2. WISN-TV, Sikh Temple Shooting; 3. WTMJ-TV, House Explosion

MORNING NEWSCAST: 1. WTMJ-TV, Live at Daybreak – Shooting Spree at Spa; 2. WDJT-TV, CBS 58 Morning News – August 6, 2012; 3. WISN-TV, Sikh Temple Shooting: Day After

EVENING NEWSCAST: 1. WTMJ-TV, Live at 10 – Temple Massacre; 2. WISN-TV, Azana Salon Shooting; 3. WITI-TV, WITI Evening Newscast – August 5, 2012, 9 PM

NEWS WRITING: 1. WISN-TV, Driver Fan; 2. WITI-TV, WITI "Furry Flight for Life"; 3. WTMJ-TV, Lindsey Morone (compilation)

HARD NEWS/INVESTIGATIVE: 1. WTMJ-TV, Milwaukee Parking Meter Mess (series on investigative reports); 2. WTMJ-TV, Helpless: Why Restraining Orders Don’t Work; 3. WITI-TV, "Boy in the Box"

SERIES OR DOCUMENTARY: 1. WMVS-TV, Return to Pearl; 2. WITI-TV, "The Confidence Man"; 3. WISN-TV, Katie’s Gift

FEATURE: 1. WTMJ-TV, Dad Delivers Miracle; 2. WITI-TV, "No White Flags"; 3. WITI-TV, "Skiing Past Impossible"

LIVE ON-SCENE REPORTING: 1. WTMJ-TV, Charles Benson Compilation; 2. WISN-TV, Colleen Henry; 3. WTMJ-TV, Tom Murray Compilation

BEST CONTINUING COVERAGE: 1. WTMJ-TV, Shooting Spree at the Spa; 2. WISN-TV, Sikh Temple Shooting; 3. WITI-TV, "On the Trail with Paul Ryan"

BEST USE OF NEWS VIDEO: 1. WISN-TV, Stealth Mission; 2. WITI-TV, "The Snow Sculptor"; 3. WISN-TV, 5 Alarm Fire

SPORTS REPORTING: 1. WDJT-TV, Packers Ball Call – Clueless in Seattle; 2. WITI-TV, "Won’t Be Blindsided"; 3. WISN-TV, Bielema Leaves Badgers

SPORTSCAST: 1. WITI-TV, Tom Pipines; 2. WDJT-TV, Kevin Holden – CBS 58 Sports Composite; 3. WISN-TV, Dan Needles

BEST USE OF SPORTS VIDEO: 1. WITI-TV, "Dartball"; 2. WISN-TV, Golf Course Photographer; 3. WITI-TV, "Cyclocross"

WEATHERCAST: 1. WISN-TV, Sally Severson; 2. WITI-TV, Vince Condella; 3. WISN-TV, Mark Baden

SIGNIFICANT COMMUNITY IMPACT: 1. WITI-TV, "Tragedy at Sandy Hook"; 2. WTMJ-TV, TODAY’S TMJ4 Community Baby Shower; 3. WISN-TV, Hunger Task Force

SPECIALTY PROGRAMMING: 1. WMVS-TV, Field of Honor; 2. WISN-TV, Senate Debate; 3. WITI-TV, "300 Miles of Gravel"

EDITORIAL/COMMENTARY: 1. WITI-TV, Ted’s Take #1; 2. WTMJ-TV, What's Hot?; 3. WITI-TV, Ted's Take #2


PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: 1. WTMJ-TV, TODAY’s TMJ4 Community Baby Shower; 2. WISN-TV, Wheeling for Healing; 3. WTMJ-TV, Fight for Air Climb

BEST COMMERCIAL: WTMJ-TV, Coach USA O’Hare; 2. WISN-TV, Operation Football; 3. WISN-TV, A-List

ELECTION COVERAGE: 1. WISN-TV, WISN Election Coverage; 2. WITI-TV, You Decide 2012; 3. WTMJ-TV, TODAY’S TMJ4 compilation

You can find the area station winners in radio and online here.

Steve Kabelowsky Contributing Columnist

Media is bombarding us everywhere.

Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.

The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.