Don’t tell Bruce Haffner it can’t be done. Let’s start with his years as a student and fresh out of ASU, when everyone wanted to be part of the newest craze -- the music video. There you found Bruce Haffner, helping produce an MTV-style show showcasing the likes of U2, B.B. King and Rod Stewart.
Then it was on to yet another competitive, high octane vocation -- TV news. As a television news cameraman covering stories around the country and across Arizona, Haffner earned 15 Emmy Awards. “While most of us know Bruce Haffner as the helicopter pilot and reporter on Phoenix airwaves for years, he is also an amazing photographer and editor,” says former KTVK executive producer Abbie Smith. “His storytelling abilities behind the camera were among the best in the business, capturing the beauty and the challenges of people and places all over Arizona. But it was telling stories from the air that he loved the most, so while he was doing his day job as a photographer and editor for NewsChannel 3, he was also working to get his pilot/helicopter license so he could live his dream.”
And once he got that pilot’s license, Haffner transformed his career into a helicopter pilot. And not just any helicopter pilot. Given his news experience, he took his TV photography experience in the air and calls his helicopter “just an expensive tripod.” Haffner also supplied support for reporters on the ground while they covered breaking news. “Whenever we were entering the Gates of Hell on the ground,” says former KTVK reporter Mike Watkiss, who from time to time has used his share of colorful descriptions, “it was always comforting to know Haffner was up in the sky looking out for us and guiding us in.”
In 2009, Haffner saw his career change dramatically when KTVK sold its helicopter. Two years later, he bought his own helicopter and launched CHOPPERGUY to provide top quality aviation aerial video production and news coverage for KTVK and later KPHO CBS 5 as well. His company also shoots aerials for production companies, ad agencies and CHOPPERGUY even has a few movie credits on the big screen.
Haffner’s 25-year run as a Pilot/Reporter for KTVK-TV3 and CBS 5 ended in 2020. Now he produces THE CHOPPERGUY SHOW on his CHOPPERGUY YouTube channel.
“Drones take great pictures from on high at a cost that’s low,” says former KTVK news director Phil Alvidrez. “But Bruce Haffner took viewers with him on daily adventures, and his storytelling rides were worth every penny. Phoenix television is poorer without him in the sky.”
If Haffner’s career proves anything, it is that we shouldn’t be surprised when he recreates himself once again.
Chris Schueler has created more than one hundred television programs over the past 25 years. These programs have garnered 26 Rocky Mountain Emmy® Awards and some have been broadcast throughout the world.
Focusing on educational and social issues, Schueler has experience in youth programming, cultural and social documentaries and video projects, and family series television. His clients have included the United Nations, the National Institute of Mental Health, the PBS Network, the CBS Network Foundation as well as networks and government entities worldwide.
Schueler’s program topics have ranged from global warming solutions to mental health stigma as well as domestic violence, teen pregnancy prevention, AIDS, alcohol, gambling addiction and opioid abuse.
His documentaries focusing on the environment, health and social issues, and Native American challenges have not only educated the viewing audience, but also have been used by lawmakers and community leaders to inform decision making.
Schueler includes social marketing and target audience outreach for all his projects, involving extensive use of electronic and internet platforms to address issues primarily focused on teenagers and their families. In addition to including a large group of teenagers in the programs production and outreach efforts, each of these projects include organizing partnerships with nonprofit stakeholders, government entities and private businesses. These documentaries and community outreach projects include not only the airing of the programs in prime time, but also curriculum guides, Town Hall meetings, specialized educational videos, and internet components including live web cam interaction and text messaging.
The National Broadcast Association for Community Affairs named Chris Schueler national “Innovator of the Year” for his nationally syndicated, News 101 Project that trained teenagers to produce television news stories for local network affiliates. Schueler has used his model to train journalists around the world in creating social issue documentaries.
Schueler is the Executive Director of “SafeTeen New Mexico” which was named one of the six best Community Outreach Programs in the United States.
And tonight, he can add member of the prestigious NATAS Silver Circle Society in the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter to that list.
Lisa Fuller Magee
Lisa Fuller Magee started her broadcast career in radio when she was just 16 years old. Being a disc jockey helped put her through college at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. A few years after she graduated, a visit to Arizona would change her broadcasting path.
Magee took a part-time job at KTVK-TV as what was then known as a “liver-driver” -- driving a microwave truck to locations and engineering the equipment so reporters could do live shots throughout the Valley. It was a great experience as she moved into what she loved -- writing stories, telling stories and coordinating broadcasts. Now 34 years later she has been a writer, assistant producer, show producer, live program producer, booker, special project producer, movie critic and Senior Producer -- all at KTVK.
For nearly 15 years, Magee was the line and show producer for the Good Morning Arizona, a runaway hit and ratings grabber in the Phoenix market. Also during that time, Magee served as a movie critic for the show. After producing Good Morning Arizona during the weekdays, she would fly to Los Angeles or New York on weekends to see movies, interview the actors and then turn the interviews into stories for Good Morning Arizona. She also did live-shots and interviews from locations around the world, including Hawaii, Genoa, London, Toronto, Vancouver, Rio de Janeiro and Moscow. Magee also used her entertainment contacts to book and handle hundreds of movie stars, comedians and bands when they appeared on Good Morning Arizona. This included everyone from Jason Aldean to Damon Wayans to Liam Hemsworth.
“Viewers may not know that Lisa Fuller Magee is a Phoenix television institution,” says Phil Alvidrez, the former longtime News Director at KTVK and now a partner in MagicDust Television. “She would hate that description, but it’s true. And many of the stories viewers loved for years on Good Morning Arizona never would have happened without Lisa’s guiding hand.”
Her co-workers agree.
“Lisa has always been the consummate professional and the person you wanted in the booth producing live programming like Good Morning Arizona,” says Abbie Smith, the Executive Producer of The List and former KTVK co-worker. “She was always the calm in the storm when news was breaking, and it had to get on the air.”
“Lisa is the total package,” says Marty Hames, the Community Liaison of Circle the City and a former Good Morning Arizona anchor. “She is the definition of integrity, a class act, and a true friend.”
Steve Stucker is a weatherman for KOB 4’s “Eyewitness News Today” show in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This morning program airs weekdays from 4:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. With over 30 years with KOB television, Stucker has been continuously forecasting weather in New Mexico longer than any other TV personality.
Stucker has received dozens of honors in his years on KOB 4, including being voted Best of the City awards for “Best TV Personality” and/or “Best Meteorologist” the past 16 years in a row, by readers of a local lifestyle publication, “Albuquerque, The Magazine.”
Stucker is well known throughout New Mexico for his community involvement, which includes working with dozens of nonprofit groups, churches and schools. He has spoken to thousands of students about the importance of staying in school, and making their dreams come true. He is sought after as a motivational speaker for civic organizations, graduations and corporate events. He has served as the master of ceremonies host for more events than any other person in the history of New Mexico.
Stucker brings his "Celebrity Weather Dogs" on air with him every Friday morning for his popular Parade of Pets feature, which promotes adoption through local animal shelters.
He is a fixture at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, and he has not missed a single broadcast in more than 30 years. Stucker goes live from the field all nine mornings of the event and has developed a worldwide following through his colorful comments and his outrageous Balloon Fiesta costume and pin collection. Stucker jokes that he is the probably the most photographed human at Balloon Fiesta every year.
Stucker is the Founder and Director of Beds4kidz, a branch of UpB4 the Son Charities & Ministries. Beds4kidz gives beds to families who are sleeping on the floor. To date, they have placed more than 11,000 people in clean, comfortable beds, free of charge.
He has been married to his wife Rose for 28 years and they have four adult children and three grandchildren. Stucker is an Ordained Chaplain (International Fellowship of Chaplains), and the Men's Ministry Pastor at New Covenant Church of Albuquerque.
In addition to his professional accolades and personal accomplishments Stucker is also a rookie beekeeper. Tonight we toast his sweet success on all fronts.
Tara Hitchcock knew she wanted to be on television in the sixth grade. Thanks to a teacher who saw early on this girl could TALK, she enrolled in a speech and debate class in high school and never looked back. Indeed, years later when she was the host of Good Morning Arizona, there would be segments of the show that would be internally slugged simply as “Tara Talks.”
Hitchcock graduated cum laude with a BA in Communications and Political Science from Boston College and went on to get her Master's Degree in Broadcast Journalism from the Medill School at Northwestern. It only took one phone call to get her first job in TV at KBMT-TV in Beaumont, Texas. She quickly proved her deftness in covering crawfish festivals and holiday tree lightings, and within three months, Hitchcock was named the station’s main co-anchor.
In 1996, she moved to Phoenix to host the highly-rated Good Morning Arizona on KTVK-TV. “Tara is smart, funny and a breath of fresh air -- and for someone who loves to talk, she is one of the best listeners and interviewers you’ll ever see,” says the guy who hired her, former KTVK news director Phil Alvidrez. “Her quick wit, down-to-earth personality and ability to move seamlessly between the serious and the silly endeared her to viewers. She was an immediate hit and a talented one at that,” Alvidrez adds. “Over the next 15 years, Tara became synonymous with 3TV and Good Morning Arizona – a regular morning viewing institution – though I am sure she would laugh at that description (even though it is true).”
Hitchcock has made her mark on Arizona television. She has interviewed everyone from John McCain to Justin Bieber and her love of sports has brought her to host shows from the Masters, Super Bowl and World Series. She also accumulated an inordinate amount of pre-dawn speeding tickets over the years in her race to get to work. She would have had even more speeding tickets, but she talked her way out of them.
A member of the Critics’ Choice Association, Hitchcock currently hosts “Behind The Screens” for Harkins Theatres. Viewers can catch her weekly celeb/travel segments on “Good Morning Arizona” and “MORE Good Day Oregon.” Her other passion is travel, and you can read about her adventures in her periodic “Tara’s Big Travels” feature in Phoenix Magazine (as well as JetSet Magazine, City Lifestyle publications & more).
Off camera, Hitchcock has used her high profile to help countless charities. She's been honored with numerous awards for her tireless work in the community, named as one of Arizona's Top Ten "Trendsetters" in 2012. She has helped raise a tremendous amount of money for the Barrow Neurological Center. She serves on the board of Best Buddies Arizona, is a National Celebrity Ambassador for Childhelp USA and is active in charities including the Foundation for Blind Children, Celebrity Fight Night, For Those without a Voice and more. She and her three sisters participated in multiple AVON 2-day breast cancer walks in honor of their grandmother, Babci
Tom Leander is a two-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Awarded television and radio sports broadcaster with more than 38 years of on-air experience. While his background includes radio, television sportscasting, editing and sports production, the majority of his career has been as an on-air personality for the Phoenix Suns.
Leander first started as a Suns “ball boy” in the mid 1970’s. In 1993, he secured his dream job with the team as the host and producer of pre-game, half-time and post-game shows. He continues in that role, along with some play-by-play duties to this day.
Leander is a 1982 graduate of Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix where he played varsity basketball. He then attended Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and became the University’s Sports Director for KXLU Radio, calling play-by-play for the LMU men’s basketball team for three years. Following his college career, he moved into on-air television work when he joined the CBS affiliate KMST-TV in Monterey, California, as a sports anchor and reporter. He then moved on to Tucson’s CBS-affiliate KOLD-TV, also as a sports reporter and anchor.
Moving back to Phoenix in 1991, Leander joined the Suns organization as the host and producer of its pre-game, halftime and postgame shows. He spent many years working alongside former Suns players Tom Chambers and Eddie Johnson. Leander’s other play-by-play experience includes the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury with Hall-of-Famer Anne Meyers Drysdale, Arena Football League’s Arizona Rattlers, Pac-12 College Football’s ASU Sun Devils, Indoor Soccer’s Arizona Sandsharks and live-streaming high school basketball and football games for the Brophy Broncos.
In 2016, Leander wrapped up a project titled, “The Sunderella Suns,” a one-hour documentary which recaptured the magic of the 1975-76 Suns team that reached the NBA Finals. This earned Leander a Rocky Mountain Emmy Award for sports production.
Leander coaches 8th grade basketball at Saint Simon and Jude Catholic School, runs his Leander Hoop Academy for kids K-8, and teaches TV and radio broadcasting courses at Brophy College Preparatory where he mentors high school students in learning the beauty and complexity of sports broadcasting.
He and his wife Sandy have been married 30 years. They met and fell in love at KOLD-TV in Tucson while working as fellow reporter/anchors. The couple has three beautiful children: Lauren, Keaton and Bryson, and three dogs — two rescues and his favorite mountain biking partner, an Australian shepherd named Bindi.