Alissa Lopez – Editor-In-Chief
The heat was rising as a group of WPU students huddled in the back of a long conference room with nearly 600 other competitors waiting for Brave New Radio’s name to be called, for the station to be recognized for one significant achievement out of its five nominations.
The moderator began to announce the Best College Radio Station in the US two hours later. He paused and mentioned that the winner was not far from the Intercollegiate Broadcasting Service (IBS) awards ceremony that was held in New York on March 4.
“The moment he said that I knew it had to be us,” Station Manager Sebastian Escobar said.
Brave New Radio WPSC 88.7 FM was named the Best College Radio Station in the US for the third time in six years and won Best Sports Pre- or Post-Game Show for the Rowan University post-game. WP-TV 6 was recognized for the Best Sports Report in the Intercollegiate Broadcasting Service’s first-ever TV competition.
William Paterson students beat out over 10,000 other students across the nation from universities like Harvard for the Best College Radio Station title. Brave New Radio last achieved the national recognition consecutively in 2012 and 2013.
“We’re doing things that other college radio stations don’t normally do,” said Escobar who oversees day-to-day operations and student management at the station. Escobar was named Best On-Air Personality at the 2015 IBS awards before graduating from the university as a former program manager for Brave New Radio.
Members have traveled to the White House in Washington D.C. and internationally in Finland for College Radio Day and World College Radio Day. President Obama even wrote a letter to the Brave New Radio team for their achievements in 2016.
General Manager and Assistant Professor of Audio & Radio Rob Quicke spearheaded William Paterson University as the national headquarters of College Radio Day which “puts a spotlight on us to be the best we can possibly be,” said Escobar.
Program Director Nick Gomez, a sophomore media production major, attributed other College Radio Day events to the station’s recent success including Braveathon, a 15 hour live broadcast of local bands’ live performances and interviews, and Vinylthon, a 24 hour celebration of music on vinyl. Brave New Radio and WP-TV will host its 9th Annual Braveathon on April 21 and the radio station will host Vinylthon on April 22.
“[Vinylthon] started with our station last year and grew to over 50 stations this year,” Gomez said. As program director Gomez works to maintain the nearly 30-year-old Brave New Radio brand image, protect its FCC license and manage the leadership team.
And while team members are preparing for 24 hours of College Radio Day (CRD) programming and events they are also preparing submissions for the Intercollegiate Broadcasting Service Awards. “While we’ve all been up for 32 hours trying to make CRD happen we also have IBS in the corner of our minds,” Gomez said.
But preparing for the IBS awards and other competitions is essentially a year-round process while submissions, “can be as simple as posting a link and a sentence, or as complicated as having to write a rationale,” said TV Studio Manager Al Ckarke who serves as an adjunct professor of media production and broadcast journalism and the WP-TV faculty adviser.
High-quality content, use of technology and local coverage are some necessary components for competing nationally, said Clarke who won national awards for TV programs throughout his 27-year career in television and also judged national competitions.
After being blown out by Rowan University in men’s basketball, Sports Play-by-Play Announcer Dylan Burns and Mason Mills, who graduated in December 2016, were able to “turn a blowout loss into a half hour conversation,” Burns said. The debate over poor coaching versus poor execution by the players became a national IBS radio award for the Best Sports Pre- or Post-Game Show.
As a WP-TV Sports Analyst and NBA Producer on WP-TV, Burns credited WP Sports Desk’s award for Best Sports Report to original content in the coverage of the William Paterson football team thanks to footage from the athletic department.
“Original content is very hard to get in a Division III School. It’s not like we go to Rutgers and we’re on national TV. We have to be at every game to get footage and sometimes it’s 4 or 5 hours away,” said WP Sports Desk Producer Wyatt Kalb.
WP Sports Desk is broadcasted by Kalb and Burns as well as Justin McHugh, Chris Johnson, and Dante Vocaturo every Friday. Kalb and Wyatt are both broadcast journalism majors graduating this year after being part of WP-TV since their first semesters as freshman in 2013.
WP-TV and Brave New Radio have developed significantly as student organizations since then.
Despite winning a Cinema in Industry Award, or CINDY, in 2012 for the show The Roundabout, WP-TV “disintegrated” in the summer of 2012 to the summer of 2013, Clarke said.
And as a new hire in June 2013, “Part of what I was charged with doing was recreating the culture…We rebuilt not only the studio but we rebuilt culture. And now that culture is one of acceptance, support, friendliness, and professionalism,” Clarke said.
Brave New Radio faced a similar “lull in motivation” from 2012 to 2016, Gomez said. “Over the summer of 2015 we faced a major blow to our team where almost half of our staff graduated and we didn’t have plans in place to efficiently replace them,” Gomez said.
Last year was the first time since 2012 that Brave New Radio didn’t win a first-place award in any competition. “The loss last year was devastating… we went 0 for 8. We were nominated for eight [IBS awards] and lost all of them,” Burns said.
Burns described 2016 as a transition year for the Brave New Radio team that took recruiting, programming, and leadership to new heights in 2017. The overhaul of its automation system by Gomez, which keeps music going 24/7 without live DJs, is one progression that attributed to the station’s national recognition.
“A good amount of the credit has to be given to a few people who have recently left our station, former Station Manager Risa Pappas and former Program Director Eric Dargis,” added Gomez.
WP-TV has since progressed through a greater level of comradery that both Burns and Kalb noted. “The chemistry shows on camera,” Burns said.
And that award-winning chemistry set a bar for the Intercollegiate Broadcasting Service TV awards, Clarke said.
WP-TV and Brave New Radio are currently focusing on building a digital presence and maintaining social media engagement with listeners and viewers. Escobar said that future plans for the radio station include revamping the website and the creation of a concert series while Clarke is focusing on attaining new technology and new partnerships with organizations like the MLB (Major League Baseball) for WP-TV.
As new members take over where seniors like Burns and Kalb leave off, Escobar reminds the new generation that “if you’re going to create a show, make sure that’s the best possible show you can make it.”
Brave New Radio and WP-TV meetings are held every Tuesday during common hour at the radio station and in the Martini Room.