Volunteer of the Year 2013

Heff Munson, 2014

Heff Munson received the Lescala Award in honor of his commitment and volunteer work on numerous AIM programs in 2014. Heff’s commitment proves that he’s a star behind the scenes. He became involved with AIM in 1981, when he composed music for Arlington Weekly News after winning a song contest (“mine was the only entry,” he explains). Heff stayed on with AWN and from 1985-86 he helped write the second season script.

In 1988 he formally joined AIM as a member in hopes of producing Interactive Adventure, a feature-length musical comedy. Afterward he composed jingles and animations for the programs WashingtunesRound Ball Rap-UpIn My Opinion, and PM Arlington, as well as music for Dalmatian Firehouse and The Appreciative Dead.

Through the decades Heff has worked mostly on studio productions as composer, cameraperson, writer, and on-screen talent. Within the past year alone, he has volunteered on Arlington Weekly NewsBookman’s CornerFree to Be YouStar CrashLights, Camera, Action!Meeting Our NeedsThree-Minute MoviesPicture Lock—and more. He has also stepped out in the field with Michael Shea on sports shows and live outdoor events, and with Paul Mahood on musical and creative projects. A few of these productions are Heff’s most cherished: he likes working with “auteur” producer Edie Meyers on Star Crash, and on Bookman’s Corner “for the sheer intelligence of the show, even though they'll never feature any of my books,” he suggests, “probably due to the aforementioned intelligence.”

Through the decades, AWN remains a “sentimental favorite,” but there’s one more program that Heff feels very close to: Late Night Filler, his own hour-long series featuring original songs, comedy, and animations. “I get to do whatever I want. It’s my show!”

With all of these accomplishments, Heff still has big plans: when asked if there’s anything else he’d like to work on at AIM, he answers, “Absolutely!”

“With the right cast, I'd like to re-work the Interactive Adventure musical as a 1980's period piece, as well as a Thornton Wilder parody called The Changes Over Twenty Years. AIM has a wealth of technical people, but I can't find the interested actors and singers I need. It's understandable, of course, since the good ones are busy working on other projects.”

Heff will also be happy to work on AIM’s upcoming low power FM station, as he’s already started work on some radio comedy scripts. “Meanwhile,” he says, “I'll keep doing what I'm doing.”

About his time working with others at AIM, Heff says, “I have learned a lot, and I expect to keep learning: different producers have different visions and aesthetics, and different crew members have different strengths and limitations. He goes beyond status quo to help AIM staff, producers, and volunteers take productions to the next level. Whether with lighting, green screen, or sound, he pushes creative and technical bounds—a reason so many people are glad to work with him on projects. Heff’s commitment reflects his talent for volunteering with multi-faceted people and programs day-in and day-out. “That,” he says, “will always be a work in progress.”

Craig Syphax, 2013

In 2013, Craig Syphax was chosen to be recognized for the many hours of volunteer work he put in on such programs as the Nation's Capital Sports Show, Picture This, the Knife and Fork Show, Picture Lock, and high school football and basketball.  Producers who work regularly with Craig describe him as "pleasant, helpful, reliable and competent."