Regular viewers of the American Cancer Society's annual telethon recognize Joe Krushinsky for his work as an on-air master of ceremonies.

After spending his career in public broadcasting, the Tamaqua native is not someone who normally seeks personal recognition for his contributions to his field.

The Penn State University College of Communications has now done it for him, bestowing upon Krushinsky its Outstanding Alumni Award during a luncheon on the University Park campus.

Also honored during the event were Rennie Dyball, a 2002 PSU graduate and an author and reporter for People magazine, who received the Emerging Professional Award; Thomas Loebig, a 1980 graduate and director of digital media content and operations for AccuWeather, who was selected for the Achievement Award; and Michael Elavsky, an assistant professor in the university's Department of Film-Video and Media Studies, who was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award.

The awards are sponsored by the college's Alumni Society Board.

The Outstanding Alumni Award is presented to graduates of the college who have demonstrated excellence in the field of communications, contributed significantly to their profession and gained an exemplary reputation among colleagues and students within their community.

Krushinsky is a 1980 graduate of Tamaqua Area High School who has worked for Maryland Public Broadcasting for the past 11 years, serving as vice president, chief development officer, chief communications officer and as a member of the senior management team.

While at Penn State, Krushinsky earned degrees in broadcasting and telecommunications in 1985. He served as station manager for WPSU radio and was the leading fundraiser and spokesperson for the station, overseeing its call letter change from WDFM to WPSU.

Krushinsky was nominated for the award by Joe Martellaro, a member of the WPSU staff while Krushinsky was at Penn State. Martellaro is a regional development director for Dickinson College in Carlisle.

"It was unexpected, but I am very grateful for this," said Krushinsky of the award. "It was a nice affair. I got to meet students in the College of Communications as well as current faculty and alumni from over the years, and I hadn't had that opportunity before.

"It was a lot of fun to go back and think about the real good experiences I had in the classroom and at the radio station," he added.

Before joining Maryland Public Broadcasting, Krushinsky worked in public broadcasting in Washington, D.C., New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He has earned numerous awards for his work and regularly assists the American Cancer Society as a volunteer chair and telethon host. He has worked with the telethon since it originated at Tamaqua Area High School while he was a student there.

Krushinsky has been twice named American Cancer Society Volunteer of the Year and twice earned the organization's leadership award.

After more than 20 years in public broadcasting, Krushinsky was pleased that part of the event allowed him to discuss his profession with current PSU students.

"To participate in the mentoring session with the students was the real highlight for me," he mentioned.

In accepting the award, Krushinsky spoke for a few minutes about the importance of journalism in a democracy, including what he said were "some of the threats to journalism as we know it in the new environment."

The proliferation of cable news programming, some of it with a particular political slant, and the growing use of the Internet as a news source, including all of the bloggers out there, are among the challenges facing traditional journalists, but Krushinsky stressed that journalism is more important now than ever.

"I think that resonated with everyone," he said. "We all face what happens next. People can turn on TV and get these programs that will reinforce their own opinions," instead of objective reporting.

Krushinsky doesn't believe the demise of true journalism will happen anytime soon.

"About 95 percent of what shows up as news online is being reported from what has already been reported in traditional media, especially newspapers," he related. "I see the kind of journalism that is being practiced in newspapers still being continued, just in a different place."