SUNY Oswego students and student-run WTOP-10 TV and WNYO 88.9 FM recently added a combined eight new awards to their list of accomplishments through the New York State Broadcasters Association’s annual Awards for Excellence in Broadcasting.

Honors in the College Television Division were:

  • Outstanding Promotional Announcement or Series: Oswego State vs. Plattsburgh hockey promo
  • Outstanding Specialty Programming: Hockey Night in Oswego: Oswego vs. Geneseo
  • Outstanding Weathercast: Feb. 14 Weathercast
  • Outstanding Social Media Personality: Shelby Vasiluth
  • Outstanding Classroom Digital Project: “The Satirical Candidate”

Awards in the College Radio Division were:

  • Outstanding Radio Show: “The Weekend Recap”
  • Outstanding Social Media Personality: “Matt and Carl in the Morning”
  • Outstanding Classroom Digital Project: “Magic Mike XXL -- Recreated Sound”

The honors add to a long line of broadcasting awards for Oswego students, including national honors. In large part, the awards show the college and its student-run stations have “amazing students,” said Josh Holfoth, general manager of WTOP.

“I think these awards are a manifestation of all of the students' hard work, and I’m glad it has been recognized,” Holfoth said. “This year the student media groups and SUNY Oswego students have won the most awards of any other year I’ve been here. Not only have we all worked really hard to improve our production quality but our advisors and student leaders have pushed everyone to think more about those higher recognitions.” 

The sports awards for continue such honors that both stations have received, including nationally through the Broadcasting Education Association and College Broadcasters Inc.

“I’m especially happy about how our sports broadcasts have been recognized because we have put a lot of time and effort into improving them,” Holfoth said. “It’s nice to get recognition of our hard work paying off. I think they stand out because we execute things at such a high level, between transitions in-game, and pre-produced elements. We put in a lot more effort than I think most people expect for one game.”

Rewarding variety

The awards also recognize a range of contributions through classes and productions. “The Satirical Candidate,” for example, came from interview Holfoth conducted on his phone with independent presidential candidate Vermin Supreme when a number of broadcasting students had the opportunity to go on the road to cover the New Hampshire primaries back in February.

Vasiluth’s win in the social media category shows the growing importance of this extension of news. “By keeping my social media updated with breaking news on campus, events in the community and things I think would interest people I have been able to gain credibility and a following on the Oswego campus and local community,” Vasiluth said.

“Companies have entire departments dedicated to social newsgathering. Breaking news can be found on all platforms of the internet,” Vasiluth added. “Access to information and sources has become easier. If you see a video you would like to use from a user, it’s easier and cheaper to reach out to them and ask for permission to use their content rather than send a photog from a station.”

But that also comes with a responsibility for accuracy, she noted. “In terms of breaking news, it’s more important for journalists to be second and accurate than first and wrong,” Vasiluth said. 

Gregory, who already has started work as a broadcast meteorologist for WROC News 8 in Rochester, won for the Feb. 14 weathercast for the “Broadcast News Process and Producing” class. 

“It’s a course where students are assigned various tasks needed to produce a news show, and my main role in the course is to be their meteorologist,” Gregory explained. “I’ve been bettering my skills as a broadcast meteorologist since I was a sophomore at WTOP-10, so I consider this weathercast to be one of my best ones I produced at the school. It was a really fun weathercast to put on, not only because it was Valentine’s Day, but because it was the day we got some of the coldest temperatures of the season thus far.” 

Audio excellence

The award for “Matt and Carl in the Morning” joins national recognition the show earned from the National Broadcasting Association.

Not only does a morning show have to make sure that their on-air content is good, but they have to also make sure to interact and attract their audience on social media as well,” said Carl Neff, general manager of WNYO, of the show he and Matthew Roelands created, and now also came to feature Chelsea Gualoano and Timothy Brenner

“This is something that we have learned from both our classes here at SUNY Oswego and through our internships,” Neff said. “Every time we have our show we post interactive posts that are intended to spark conversation. The more relatable, creative or funny they are, the better they tend to do.”

The award for “Weekend Recap” recognizes a sports talk radio show hosted by Matt Watling and Luke Owens, a mix of analysis and personal commentary. “These are two amazing guys with so much talent and potential,” Neff noted. “Not only do they do an incredible job representing WNYO with their show, but they have a strong hand in both WTOP and the Oswegonian as well. Both of these guys are WNYO's and WTOP's ‘go-to’ for hockey play-by-play and color commentary for their quick wit, expert level analysis and amazing chemistry.”

“Magic Mike XXL -- Recreated Sound” comes from a class project by Adam Sommer and Ryan Pacheco for a “Sound for TV/Film” course taught by Jeff Bradbury. The assignment recreated a movie scene without music, which Neff said was so hilarious he asked them to submit it for consideration. 

Raising expectations

“I think students are setting their goals higher than they have in the past,” Holfoth said. “We all have a lot of Oswego pride and we want to show everyone how great of a program we have, winning awards and gaining this type of recognition is one way we do that.”

Neff is extremely pleased with the awards students have won at the national and state level, and thinks it positions the stations even better for the future.

“These awards reflect all the hard work that we at WNYO and WTOP have put forward this year and what SUNY Oswego has to offer,” Neff said. “We have always been seen as the place to go to only have fun, which has been true, but I want people to know that they can build their career with WNYO too.”

Vasiluth particularly thanked Michael Riecke of the broadcasting faculty for everything he does for her and all students who take his classes. 

Professor Riecke has been my mentor since I came to Oswego my freshman year,” she said. In additional to taking so many classes with him, Vasiluth said she “went on the Hollywood POV trip with him, New Hampshire trip to cover the Presidential primary and probably more things that I’m forgetting at the moment. Professor Riecke has pushed me to become the journalist I am today. I find his experience in the business valuable and take every word he says to heart.”

A meteorology major, Gregory said WTOP and helpful faculty have been key to her and so many other broadcast meteorologists finding success in TV news. “I think there is a huge amount of support by both faculty and students not only in meteorology, but in broadcasting as well. That may have to do with Oswego’s reputation for producing well-known and successful broadcasters, but I think it also has to do with the overall environment and opportunity the school provides us,” said Gregory, who also took the fall 2019 course “Camera Ready: Developing Your On-Air Persona” co-taught by alumnus Al Roker, national weather anchor on NBC's "Today" show and co-host of the program's third hour.

“I don’t think I would be where I am today at all without being a part of WTOP, because that’s where my interest was initially sparked," she added. “You can really tell that the students that come to Oswego for broadcasting have a true passion for what they do. The resources and faculty the school provides play a huge part in allowing students to take that passion, and turn it into these real life success stories.”