WMUA earns six Intercollegiate Broadcasting System Awards nominations

Award winner will be announced in New York City on March 3

By Abigail Charpentier

WMUA, the University of Massachusetts student-run radio station, was nominated for six Intercollegiate Broadcasting System awards. Nominations were announced from Dec. 15 to Jan. 15. This was the first year that WMUA applied for the awards.

The IBS is an overall directional organization for college radio stations, according to WMUA General Station Manager Josh McCawley. To enter for the awards, students had to submit brief audio clips to compete in the 85 different categories.

“I was always confident that we were going to get nominated, because I think we are doing things here that we have never done before. I always tell the staff…that people outside of WMUA notice,” McCawley said.

This year’s IBS award winners will be announced on March 3 in New York City at the annual IBS conference. McCawley explained that the conference features panels of people from the broadcast industry and showcases new technology. IBS conducts studies and sends out the results to member organizations, providing information such as possible target audiences, trending music and other resources.

WMUA earned IBS award nominations for Most Creative Show award for “The Next Level – Dungeons and Dragons,” Best Community News Coverage Report, Best News Interview and Best Sports Play-by-Play, Women’s Basketball. McCawley is a finalist for the Student Station Manager of the Year award.

Dan Ferrera, the WMUA chief operating engineer, was nominated for the Tom Gibson Award for Outstanding Engineering. Ferrera has worked at WMUA for 28.5 years. Along with working at WMUA, Ferrera works at AM 1520 in Greenfield and WEIB 106.3 in Northampton.

As chief operating engineer, Ferrera maintains the facilities’ electronics systems, designs new systems, budgets, conducts trainings, goes over technical manuals, manages the station’s inventory and is on call at all times.

“On a reel-to-reel deck, you had to learn how to cut the tape, and splice the tape, and mark the tape, operate the machine, thread the machine,” Ferrera said as he reflected on his early days working at WMUA.

Ferrera, a member of UMass’ electrical engineering class of 2000, was surprised to find that the WMUA staff submitted his application for the award. They acquired a letter of recommendation and filled out the paperwork on his behalf.

“It is incredible. I had no idea that I was even entered into the running. I’m honored to be entered and be a finalist. I am thrilled,” Ferreira said.

“I’ve been here for 28 and a half years and they have given me the tools to do good work,” Ferreira added. “I have the best job in broadcasting…I love what I do.”

McCawley, a senior sports management and political science major, is one of six finalists for student station manager of the year. As general station manager, McCawley acts as a resource to his staff members and as a liaison between administration and their advisor. McCawley also works with the budget. In the past year, he has worked to double the on-air content from 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to 48 hours a day, seven days a week. He has also worked on rebranding WMUA — a new logo, new online store and new apparel.

“It’s really humbling, but I can’t really take credit for it because a lot of what I do and am able to do is set up by what our staff does,” McCawley said. “If they weren’t running the station so smoothly, if they didn’t have such a hold on their positions, if they weren’t doing the things they were doing, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to step back and focus on these bigger picture projects.”

Sports production director Mike Knittle is nominated along with Colin Cronin for Best Sports Play-by-Play for a women’s basketball game they reported early last January. Knittle said the UMass women’s basketball game versus Rhode Island was an exciting game that he “had on the top of his mind for a while.”

The senior sports journalism major said it wasn’t easy to edit the two-hour game into a five-minute submission clip, but they created a good blend of broadcasting, commentary and team camaraderie.

Mike Hanson, a member of the news team, News Editor Becky Wandel and News Operations Director Phillip Bishop are nominated for Best Community News Coverage Report. The nominated piece, which was produced in early October, focused on a federal grant given to the Belchertown Police Department to hire and train victim advocates in local police stations as the first point of contact for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. In the five-minute piece, they spoke to Becky Lockwood of UMass Center for Community and Women and local police chiefs.

“We are really proud of [the piece],” Wandel said.

Wandel and Bishop are also nominated for Best News Interview for an interview they conducted on West African Dance. Khady Malal, a West African dance instructor from Senegal, taught a few classes at Northampton African Dance and was interviewed by Wandel, junior journalism major. On the broadcast, Laurie Millman, a member of the Northampton African Dance group, translated Wandel’s questions from English to French and translated Malal’s answers from French to English, live on the air. The interview aired in early October.

“We always want a diversity of sound,” said Wandel.

Abigail Charpentier can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @abigailcharp.