Around noon, general manager Sean Varicalli received an email notifying the station that individual awards for the year had been posted on the MABF website. Based on the point system established by the foundation, WXOU’s individual scores totaled up to exceed those of competitors, securing the award.
WXOU’s 2012 victory, the station’s first, ended the 11-year winning streak of Michigan State University’s campus station, WDBM-FM.
“I’m just very excited for all of my brothers and sisters here at the station. It’s been a couple years of us putting in really hard work…It’s almost a Cinderella story, in a way,” WXOU music director Luke Phillips said. “There was this dynasty at MSU…and we swept it from under their feet last year, and now twice in a row.”
Of the 12 individual awards won by WXOU, five were won by WXOU news director Ashley Allison.
“This is a big increase from last year,” Allison said, regarding the high number of awards earned by WXOU. The awards are translated into points, and the 12 award won by WXOU translate into 22 points, finishing far above their competitors. “We won by a pretty large margin,” Allison said.
In addition to her individual awards, Allison also received a MABF scholarship.
“(The MABF) give the universities the responsibility of sorting through for scholarship applications, and we look at everything,” Christine Stover, WXOU’s faculty advisor, said. “Dedication, wanting a future in the job, and she rose to the surface. So we turned in a letter and a resume.”
WXOU assistant program director Patrick Cymbalski and Varicalli placed first and second respectively in the ‘Air Check’ category.
“That’s a really big deal,” WXOU promotions director Josh Nagy explained. “If you wanted to get a job in the real world, (an air check) is what you would turn in with your resume.”
Varicalli commented on the factors contributing to the consecutive awards.
“We have 150 people. And people trusted us. They said, ‘We know you guys can bring us back there, to that place we’ve only been to once.’ It was a culture change, really. Two years ago, we were like a club,” Varicalli said. “Well, all of the sudden people started leaving here and getting jobs in the industry and people saw this. We needed to start working harder, and start taking things like this more seriously. Phil (Berard, former WXOU general manager) really paved the way for this last year. And I had huge shoes to fill because he was such an amazing leader. Professionalism and working harder is what changed everything.”
Varicalli went on to discuss what this award means for the university. He joked that Michigan’s representative at the Miss America pageant and Michigan’s representative at national college radio competitions both hail from Oakland University.
“They need to realize that we are the best in the entire state. Michigan, Michigan State, Central Michigan; these are humongous schools with humongous communication programs and they are all getting turned down because we are the best at what we do,” he said. “(The University) needs to use us as a recruiting tool. There are so many kids that want to do this in high school and have no idea that we are the best at what we do.”
Varicalli added that the MABF will be sending the entrants specific critiques sometime in April, after the awards ceremony. WXOU will receive their second gold record and individual awards at an awards ceremony in March.
“(This is) one of the happiest days of my life.” Varicalli said. “This was my staff, I hand-picked every single one of these people and they didn’t let me down. This should be a proud day for OU, and it’s definitely a proud day for all of us.”