For students at WXOU, an ordinary Tuesday turned into a day of celebration.
This past Tuesday, the station received word that they earned four awards from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Foundation. The awards recognize significant achievements in high school and college radio.
The station got first place for Daily Newscast/News Feature. Students Steve Wiseman, Katie Hepfinger and Erik Anderson were recognized for their coverage of the strike from the day it began until it was settled.
Adviser Christine Stover was particularly proud of the recognition for the newscast.
“I’m quite excited, because that’s honestly the most prestigious part of any radio organization,” Stover said. “You have to have high quality news before you can call yourself a quality radio station, so I’m super thrilled to see that we won first place there.”
Hepfinger said she was shocked the WXOU newscast won. “I screamed,” Hepfinger said. “I just couldn’t believe we won. I’ve heard so many good things about MSU that I just assumed they would win. I was so surprised we got first.”
Hepfinger is a sophomore communications major. In high school, she did competitive forensics. A trip to the state finals in her senior year made her realize she wanted to pursue a career in radio. She’s also considering film now.
From the newscast award, she hopes students and other people on campus will realize the value of WXOU as a news source.
“I’d like for people to think we’ve got the right news, the news you want to listen to,” Hepfinger said. “You can get all the news you need right at OU and know that we care about the news. We’re not just some corporation. We do this because we love it.”
Matt Pocket, a sophomore communications major, received second place in the Sportscast/Sports Play-by-Play for a three-minute clip from the second half of the Oakland University versus Michigan State University men’s basketball game last fall.
Pocket has received MAB awards for the past three years, including during his senior year in high school. Last year he won first in the Play-by-Play category. He said this year is the first time he entered a story without a commentator.
“It was my first solo clip that I’ve submitted, and it’s cool to send something that’s just me so I can get a measure of where I stand as a solo broadcaster,” Pocket said.
Anderson, general manager of WXOU, received second place for the station activities report. Last year WXOU got an honorable mention in the station activities category, so Anderson said he is proud of the progress made this year.
“It just seems like after everything we did with the strike, everything fell into place,” Anderson said. “A couple years ago, we were not at this level. It’s good to see we’re making progress.”
Anderson, a senior communication major, credits WXOU as being one of the main reasons he chose to attend OU.
“I saw the station as a great asset to the university and a chance for me to get involved,” Anderson said.
Wiseman, a cinema studies major with prior studies at Macomb Community College and Specs Howard, received honorable mention for his air check. An air check is a three-minute audio portfolio of a radio personality’s best talking pieces.
“It’s material that makes you sound upbeat and happy,” Wiseman said. “You tailor them differently depending on the job you’re applying for.”
Wiseman credits some of his success with his submission to review from his colleagues at WOMC, where he started as an intern.
“I actually took everything I submitted to the people at WOMC to listen to,” Wiseman said. “These people are radio professionals. They’ve been in the business longer than I’ve been alive.” This year, WXOU entered submissions into all seven of the categories for the awards.
In order to be considered for the Station of the Year award, stations must enter all categories. Each station receives one point for honorable mention, two points for second place in a category and three points for first place. The school with the highest total is named Station of the Year at the ceremony in March.
“The last two years, we’ve entered every category,” Stover said. “Prior to that there have been holes, some categories we didn’t enter to, but I’ve been encouraging them to enter every category to put us in the running for Station of the Year.”
Stover, an OU graduate who also attended Central Michigan University for her masters, said she has tried to bring some of the professional tactics she learned at CMU’s radio station to WXOU.
“I kind of learned how they did things there and then implanted that here when I got a job and that seems to be working as far as recognition goes,” Stover said.
Anderson and Stover both speculate that, based on the point system, MSU will win the Station of the Year award, Anderson thinks that WXOU will most likely be third in the competition, behind MSU and CMU. “You just never know how well you’re going to do, though,” Anderson said.
He said he hopes the recognition will add to the station’s reputation as a media organization.
“Hopefully people will see we’ve won these awards, tune in and we can have bragging rights,” Anderson said. “The awards are there to back us up now when we tell people we’re really good.”
Pocket hopes that the station is able to use the MAB recognition to improve their overall quality.
“It depends on how everyone approaches this, but it can either be something we just use for our resumes or something we can really, really go gung ho with and use this to say, ‘Look at us and what we’re doing,'” Pocket said. “It’s something we can use to get interest and excitement in the station.”
Wiseman said he thinks the updates to the website, the station’s Twitter and the Facebook pages for the shows also help boost listenership. He hopes the recognition for the awards will help draw more listeners, especially since he thinks the station has something to offer for everyone.
“It’s like Michigan weather,” Wiseman said. “If you don’t like what’s on right now, tune in again in ten minutes, you might hear something different.”