Members from the staff of 90.5 WERG, Gannon University’s student-operated radio station, traveled to New York City Feb. 28 to attend the 79th annual Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) Conference.
WERG was a finalist in seven categories for the conference, winning the following three awards: Best Specialty Show, Best Training Method and Best News Director.
In the following categories, WERG was a national finalist ranking in the Top 5 overall: Best Newscast Delivery, Best Training Manual, Best Staff Newsletter, Best Show Promo, Best Sports Talk Program, Best Radio Station Manager and Best College Radio Station at a university with under 10,000 enrollment.
WERG has been an IBS member station since 2004. In 2014, the station earned the prestigious Abraham & Borst Award for Best College Radio Station in the Nation. Gannon’s radio station continued to receive national recognition in subsequent years, being a top five finalist for Best College Station again in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
For the fifth consecutive year, WERG was honored as a top-five finalist for Best College Station in America at a university with enrollment under 10,000 students.
Alongside Operations Manager Chet LaPrice, 11 staff members made up the student group representing Gannon and 90.5 WERG: Molly Cooke, Brian Bowersox, Veronica Kowalski, Camryn Grey, Justin Karns, Andy Drew, Nicolis Franz, Abigail Ritchie, Paige Groff, Gabe Fulgenzio and Dani Kowalski.
The WERG staff boarded Amtrak for the trip to Penn Station, and spent a busy four days hosting and attending radio and television media broadcast panels and roundtables. Students engaged with the New York City atmosphere and met with radio experts from iHeartMedia and professionals from NYC stations.
They also found time to take in The Big Apple, seeing “Aladdin,” visiting iconic places such as Midtown Comics, Rockefeller Center and the roof of the Empire State Building and ending the weekend with a celebratory dinner at Tony’s Di Napoli near Times Square.
Cooke, a senior theatre communication major, has gone to the IBS Conference three years in a row.
Cooke has been the general manager since January 2018 and went to IBS for the first time as a new programming director, then a new general manager.
“This third time I was very comfortable and firm with my abilities, which gave me a confidence in discussions and panels I did not have before,” Cooke said.
Although Cooke was disappointed that WERG did not win best station under 10,000, she said she’s still proud of what WERG has been able to accomplish.
“I would consider all of our work first-place worthy, so the winners were of no surprise, and all that we did not win were somewhat a surprise,” Cooke said.
Groff, a junior journalism communication major, said this was her second year attending the conference.
Groff was nominated and won Best News Director. She first became assistant news director during her first semester and news director after that.
Groff said it was a huge honor to be nominated, and especially to win.
“It’s crazy — I really didn’t expect it,” Groff said.
“I’m mostly just grateful to Abbey though, for writing my nomination.”
Groff said that most of the panels she attended were helpful.
“The most helpful one was probably the internship panel because that’s something I’ve been stressing about,” Groff said.
“The whole conference is also just super helpful because you meet a lot of people you can network with at these conferences, and a lot of the professionals are totally willing to help you out in the future and send you in the right directions.”
Groff said the city was a blast as always.
“I personally got to go to the pub that ‘How I Met Your Mother’ was based on, and that was crazy exciting for me,” Groff said.
Ritchie, a senior communication major, said that this was her first time in New York City, and it was a very vibrant, bustling and diverse place.
“Being my first time there, I was captivated by all the lights in Times Square at night, as well as seeing all the well-known landmarks near our hotel during the day,” Ritchie said.
“My favorite thing I did outside of the conference would exploring the city on the first night.”
Ritchie said that her favorite panel that she attended would have to be the one tailored to her position at 90.5 WERG, the promotions idea exchange.
“It’s an opportunity to engage with other college and high school promotions directors and acquire different ideas of how to promote our radio station and attract listeners,” Ritchie said.
“One thing that has stuck with me is that people love some good merchandise.”
Ritchie said that another thing that stuck with her was the idea of branching out to not just get WERG to be recognized on campus but help other campus clubs and organizations receive recognition.
“A lot of college radio stations collaborate with other campus organizations for events, promoting and just getting to know each other,” Ritchie said.
“I think if we brought that concept to Gannon’s campus, we could come up with some spectacular ideas and develop a sense of community on campus.”
Drew, a sophomore medical laboratory technology major, has been on-air since her first semester at Gannon. She has been the assistant music director since fall 2018.
Drew had never been to NYC before either, but she said that going there was the most amazing experience ever.
“I loved the food, shops and attractions, like the Empire State Building and Central Park,” Drew said,
At the panels, Drew said she learned about the future of music and how to predict the music charts, which for her was “a great learning experience since I am a prospective music director who will be in charge of managing those charts.”
“However, the most interesting panel I attended was one about hosting a radio drama. It really inspired me to get a radio drama going to engage both listeners and show cast alike,” Drew said.
“I definitely feel that attending music charting-related panels will help me manage the music department of WERG when it comes to deciding what songs we should be playing a lot versus the tracks we probably need to stop playing.”
Drew said that it will also help her out with her specialty countdown show, “The Tuesday Top 30.”
Drew said that outside of the panel, she really loved spending time with her WERG friends.
“Since I’m not a communication arts major, I’m glad I had this trip to designate some time with my terrific radio family.”
Drew also said that she is already planning to go to IBS again next year.
“It was a great deal of fun, and I also learned so much about the radio!”