SUNY radio staff wins awards at conference

Displaying their first-place awards are (from left): Hunter Halterman, Alexander Erwin, Chloe Kowalyk, Daniel Granados and Matthew Volz.

An already stellar reputation of Fredonia Radio Systems in the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System undoubtedly reached a new level at the 2024 conference, with the WCVF/WDVL staff receiving three first place awards along with five finalist placements.

“To get up there as a finalist – you’re in the top 3 to 5 percent of all the people who apply for it – that’s pretty high,” beamed General Manager Hunter Halterman. “I’m so grateful that we got so many nominations.”

Both numbers expand upon the bounty that Fredonia Radio Systems (FRS) collected at last year’s conference – one first place (Jordan Budd, for Best Music Director) plus six finalist designations – as well as at prior conferences when FRS won back-to-back “Best Station in the Nation” honors.

Look at it from another perspective: FRS had more finalists at the 2024 conference than the combined tally of radio stations from three other SUNY schools.

“Obviously I’m very proud of them,” commented FRS Faculty Advisor Michael Igoe. “In all my courses, I stress the importance of building a professional resume, and this is a result, and to also have your work recognized by a national organization enhances your resume.

“It’s not just (about) a paper resume, it’s also about stuff – to get a product that the media corporations can see your skill levels,” Professor Igoe added.

The annual conference in New York City attracts college radio stations from schools across the country, so FRS’ awards and finalist designations, or nominations, were achieved in direct competition with schools of all sizes, including those with significantly larger enrollments such as Arizona State University and New York University, noted Halterman. He shared a first-place award with two staffers and was also a two-time finalist.

“There were a lot of colleges from around the country at this conference – one was from the Philippines – competing with us. From small schools to big schools,” Halterman said.

Representing FRS at the conference, with their year of study, major and hometown were:

— Halterman (general manager), senior, Communication: Audio/Radio Production and Communication: Video Production, Salamanca, NY;

— Chloe Kowalyk (station manager), senior, Communication: Journalism, Psychology, Buffalo, NY;

— Daniel Granados (business director), junior, Communication: Audio/Radio Production, Communication: Video Production, Mineola, NY;

Heather Leonardi (WCVF program director), senior, Music Industry, Clay, NY;

Yongjo (Brian) Shin (music director), sophomore, Music Industry, Tenafly, NJ;

Lee Pye (news director), junior, English and Communication: Audio/Radio Production, Eden, NY;

Justin Malinowski (staff representative), junior, Adolescence Education: Social Studies, Warners, NY:

Abigail Jefferys (sales manager), first-year, Psychology, Buffalo, NY;

Matthew Volz (sports director), sophomore, Communication: Journalism, Allegany, NY;

Kelly Ibach (chief archivist), senior, Psychology and Communication: Video Production, Fredonia;

Joshua Ribakove (news anchor), senior, Communication: Audio/Radio Production and Music (Jazz/Woodwind), Williamsville, NY;

Isabella “Izzie” Inzinna (producer and host), sophomore, Communication: Audio/Radio Production, Communication: Video Production, Massapequa, NY.

Winning the “Most Creative/Innovative Show” award was the legacy weekly talk show “Lovercall,” a late-night alternative show about love and relationships produced by Ms. Kowalyk, Mr. Volz and Halterman. There were five finalists in the category.

“This was the first one announced that we were nominated as a finalist, that was called out, and we won it. As soon as they called it out, all 12 of us jumped up and started cheering. We were so excited, and me, Matt and Chloe walked up to the front, hand-in-hand, to accept the award,” Halterman said.

“Lovercall” airs Wednesday evenings, 10 p.m., on WDVL, 89.5 exclusively on fredoniaradio.com.

Granados took top honors for “Best Business Director” among six finalists. Winning the award was “a bit of a shock, but I guess (I felt) a lot of relief and excitement,” Granados recalled. He remembers being “a bundle of emotions” when the announcement was made.

Granados manages and oversees FRS budgets and compiles the paperwork with the Student Association. He began to investigate a possible return of underwriting as a revenue source for the station.

“This is still being worked on,” Granados said, adding that FRS has already made significant progress toward achieving the goal since the fall semester, though there’s still more work ahead.

“There are a lot of FCC (Federal Communications Commission) requirements to follow,” Halterman noted, for underwriting, a form of advertising utilized by non-profit organizations.

Two 2023 graduates and FRS veterans – Alexander (Alex) Erwin, Communication: Audio/Radio Production and Communication: Video Production, and Natalie Wilks, Communication: Public Relations – collected FRS’ third first-place award for “Best Liner/Sweeper.” Their brief station identifier mocked the theme of “VeggieTales,” a former children’s animated cartoon series. It was developed during the spring 2023 semester and currently runs three to four times a week.

Other categories with FRS staff who were finalists included:

• Best Station ID: (ten nominees) – Halterman, community ID

• Best News Interview (five nominees) – Kowalyk, “Graduate School Fair interview”

• Best Sports Update (eight nominees) – Pye, Volz, “News at Noon Sports Update”

• Best Live Music Broadcast (four nominees) – Brian Valencia, junior, Communication: Audio/Radio Production, Westfield, NY, and FRS staff, “Rockin’ the Commons 2023”

• Best Comedy Program (five nominees) – Halterman, Kowalyk and Mr. Erwin, “Just the Facts”

FRS staffers attended seminars and breakout sessions during the March conference. One was a panel discussion, “What Employers Look For, Aside from Media Credentials,” that included as a presenter Jodi Vale, a 1988 graduate and FRS veteran.

“She talked a lot about trying everything, being good at one craft but not being afraid to jump into another craft during your time at college,” Granados said. Employers look for club participation and strong work ethic among job candidates, according to Ms. Vale, who works at 102.3 WBAB, an Audacy classic rock station in Long Island, NY, and also teaches at a Long Island college.

A fixture in Long Island/New York radio for over 25 years, Vale was heavily involved in FRS and pursued diverse work experiences there, Granados noted. She was a station manager, production director and music director and also did traffic. “She also worked heavily with Dan Berggren,” the longtime FRS faculty advisor, Granados added.

“Really insightful” was how Halterman described the seminar, “Unlocking Relevance and Revenue in College Media,” that examined alternate ways to raise revenue besides underwriting. Among suggestions offered was putting on a telethon-type event.


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