A newsmaker you should know: TV producer Chaney honored for helping nonprofits

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Jonas Chaney likes it when people wake up early on the weekends. The two shows he produces for WPXI, "Impact" and "Talking Pittsburgh," air at 5 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

"I love it when someone comes up to me and says, 'I saw your segment on Saturday morning about free cars for people. How can I find out more information?' " Mr. Chaney said.

"Impact" focuses on programming, organizations and leaders in minority communities. "Talking Pittsburgh" focuses on the work of local nonprofits.

"I help people get the word out about services and important programs that otherwise people might not hear about," he said.

Mr. Chaney, 62, said after his segments are aired, some of the organizations will get even more exposure when their stories are picked up by the station's news department.

"The nonprofits can get an even wider audience," he said.

For providing a voice for those causes, Mr. Chaney has been selected as a Dignity & Respect Champion.

The Dignity & Respect Campaign raises awareness of those who work for the dignity and respect of all individuals, and the award honors a person who embraces, embodies and demonstrates those values.

Mr. Chaney, of Churchill, is well-known in the Pittsburgh area for his TV and radio work. He moved from Kansas to Pittsburgh in 1985 to become a sports reporter after working as a reporter in other markets.

"I covered the Steelers and Pirates -- all the sports. I really loved it," he said.

Although he enjoyed sports, he wanted to try other things. He had started in radio when he was 17 and then moved into television. By 1987, he felt it was time to explore other avenues, and he stepped out of the media limelight to work at INROADS/Pittsburgh, a program devoted to helping minorities pursue corporate careers.

"I wanted a larger skill set," Mr. Chaney explained.

While at INROADS, Mr. Chaney used his radio and television background to serve as a producer and editor for projects and programs. His former coworker from INROADS, Carole Cohen, nominated him for recognition by the Dignity & Respect Campaign.

Mr. Chaney went back to television and is now public affairs director at WPXI, a role he enjoys.

"I'm having a ball. I know that this is a great position," he said.

Mr. Chaney also acts and hosts "Championship Chase" on PCNC, WPXI's sister station.

When he learned of his award, he said he was honored.

"This was icing on the cake, ice cream on the cake," he said.

Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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