The New York State Broadcasters Association (NYSBA) Excellence in Broadcasting Awards recently honored several SUNY Oswego student and faculty broadcasters at the Embassy Suites in Syracuse on Sept. 21.

Taking home the award for “Outstanding Editorial/Commentary" in the College Radio category was junior Kyle Spisak. Spisak won for his commentary on NCAA money issues and whether Division III athletes should be allowed to gamble on professional sports games.

Student-run WNYO was also honored for “College Radio: Outstanding Sports Coverage.”

Michael Riecke, assistant professor of communication studies, also took home a professional award for "Outstanding Podcast" in the Small Market Radio category for the series “Amended in Action” which was produced for WRVO.

Shaping the college experience

Spisak, a junior public relations major, had no experience before last year in radio. Thanks to other student leaders on campus, Spisak is now confident behind the mic –- and is an award-winning broadcaster at SUNY Oswego.

“WNYO has completely changed my entire college experience. I walked into the station last year with no idea of how to do anything in broadcasting but people like Abby Connolly and Christopher Brewster welcomed me in and showed me how to work our system and I just fell in love with it from there,” Spisak said. “I am now the programming director at WNYO, and this station has truly changed my life. I wanted to be a marketer for a career last fall but now I know my love and passion in life is broadcasting from both a sports and news perspective.”

A study by Ohio State shows that involvement in clubs and organizations on campus increases career readiness and hireability in undergraduate students -- and Spisak now feels he can go out in the world and conquer his career thanks to this NYSBA honor. 

“It honestly felt unreal to win an NYSBA. I had zero confidence in winning when I submitted my show I just did it because I figured 'Cool, why not? Let's just see what happens,'” Spisak said. “The experience of receiving the award and giving a speech in front of so many big broadcasting stations in CNY was surreal. It gave me a lot of confidence from winning the award and it has given me so much motivation to become the best broadcaster I can be and reach my goal of broadcasting at a national level.”

"Every student should know each of the student media organizations wants new members," Riecke said. "I promise there's a role from anyone willing to make the commitment. I think it's important to be open-minded about what that role might be. Like any organization, the most desirable roles are often the most competitive. The earlier you get started, the more time you'll have to learn, grow, and impress your peers! It's also never too late!"

WNYO wins for Laker hockey

A SUNY Oswego fan favorite is Laker hockey, and NYSBA honored SUNY Oswego’s WNYO team for their coverage of the Lakers vs. Brockport last season. At the helm were Liam Gotimer and Jake Johnson, both May 2022 graduates who are now commentators for minor league hockey teams –- Johnson for the Elmira Mammoth and Gotimer for the Savannah Ghost Pirates.

Gotimer and Johnson served as commentators for every Laker men’s game for the 2021-’22 season, with many WNYO members making the phrase “teamwork makes the dream work” a reality. May 2022 gradaute Aaron Valentino was the “man behind the glass” for last year's men's hockey crew, with Jarrad Wakefield, Alex Abramovitch, Jack O'Riley and Cory Jackson serving on the pre-game show. 

Also in attendance at the awards ceremony was the current WNYO sports director for 2022-’23, Joey Palatsky, who served as the assistant sports director under Valentino. 

“My favorite experience with WNYO has been getting reps in the field of sports broadcasting which I've always been passionate about,” Palatsky said. “And I’m doing it all with a bunch of people who are some of my best friends at SUNY Oswego.” 

Faculty honor

Per the WRVO website details, "Amended in Action" was a collaboration between Humanities New York and WRVO Public Media. In each episode of the podcast, the host, writer and producer Riecke introduces listeners to efforts underway in Central New York and the Finger Lakes that challenge injustice, illuminate truth, and raise women’s voices.

Riecke's audio series was designed to complement Humanities New York's podcast, "Amended." While "Amended" highlights the diverse, complex and often untold stories behind the quest for women’s suffrage, "Amended in Action" focuses on the stories of contemporary women who are making a mark today.

"There are so many stories to tell across our region, so when I get an opportunity to give those stories a platform, I take it," Riecke said. "I've been fortunate to partner with WRVO on several occasions. It gives me a chance to keep my skills sharp, contribute to an industry I love, and most importantly, remain relevant in the classroom! Even professional broadcast journalists encounter obstacles, and I like to share those experiences with my students. It gives them the sense we're in this together, because we are!"