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Cronkite Scholarship Honors KEZ Radio's Bill Austin

June 1, 2011

Clear Channel Radio and Digital Media is establishing a new scholarship for students of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University in memory of the late radio personality Bill Austin.

Austin is best remembered for his almost 20 years as the co-host, with Beth McDonald, of Phoenix KEZ Radio’s “Beth & Bill” show, now “Beth & Friends.” He retired in February 2010 and died in June 2010. Before the “Beth & Bill” show, Austin was a weatherman at 12 News/KPNX-TV.

Clear Channel/KEZ will hold a tribute to Bill Austin featuring the most memorable moments from his show with Beth Friday from 7-10 a.m. It will include a scholarship segment to raise funds to endow the $1,000 annual scholarship, which will be awarded to Cronkite students interested in broadcast journalism.

Clear Channel Radio operates 850 radio stations in 150 cities as well as satellite and Internet radio and mobile offerings. The Phoenix-based KEZ is at 99.9 FM.

The Cronkite School awards about 50 scholarships ranging from $500 to $4,000 annually. This year, 258 students applied for scholarship support, up from 190 the prior year.

The first recipient of the Bill Austin Memorial Scholarship is Jocelyn Botero, who will begin her junior year at Cronkite this fall. The Phoenix native aspires to become a radio host and voice actor.

“I grew up with the ‘Beth & Bill’ show, so receiving this scholarship in honor of him – it’s just an honor and a privilege.” Botero said. “It’s really an inspiration to me.”

McDonald, Austin’s longtime radio co-host, said Austin would be thrilled to know of the scholarship in his name.

“Bill would be so proud of this and to know how many ASU students he’s going to help,” McDonald said. “He was a great mentor for kids who wanted to get into the business. He has had an impact, and things like this will have an even greater impact.”

A portion of the funding for the scholarship is being donated by spiritandword.org, the nonprofit set up by The Bill Austin Charitable Trust. Spiritandword.org is a free online resource designed to help people of all faiths and spiritual backgrounds connect with their own spirituality through thoughtful discussion, engaging content and meaningful interaction conducted in the framework of a virtual community.

Jeff England, president and market manager for Clear Channel Radio and Digital Media in Phoenix, said the award is a fitting way to commemorate Austin’s legacy.

"On behalf of Clear Channel Radio and KEZ, I am very proud we are able to help create a permanent legacy to the memory of Bill Austin,” England said. “Bill was a very talented and funny man who was loved by all who met him. Stories of his kindness and giving abound, so it is fitting that a scholarship to the Cronkite School of Journalism be created in his name. Clear Channel Radio and KEZ congratulate Jocelyn Botero, the first of many recipients of the Bill Austin Memorial Scholarship."