Radio Free Hillsdale WRFH 101.7 FM received its first three awards ever from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters on Jan. 25, after its first year with student content on the air.
Of the eight categories, WRFH earned first place in daily newscast/news feature and on-air personality or team, beating out larger schools with longer establish radio programs such as Michigan State and Central Michigan universities. It also earned second place for sports announcing team.
“These awards are a tremendous recognition of the hard work the students have put into their craft in just a short period of time,” said Scot Bertram, WRFH station manager. “I hope this helps to put the station and Hillsdale’s great journalism program on the radar screen for even more high school students considering their future.”
Junior Ryan Kelly Murphy’s newscasts earned her first. The Hillsdale College feature segment, “Wait, What Happened?”, by seniors Chandler Lasch and Sarah Schutte won them first for on-air team.
Lasch and Schutte, Sigma Alpha Iota women’s music fraternity sisters, found they both shared a love for Hillsdale College history after Lasch planned a scavenger hunt for their fraternity. Schutte’s team won, because she was familiar with the college’s past.
“We geeked out over Hillsdale history facts together,” she said and later invited Lasch to start a feature show with her.
They have features on the mysterious explosion of a fountain on campus to historical figure profiles to student pranks.
“People don’t know who Melville Chase is, and half of campus should be named after Melville Chase, because the music department is what kept the school alive in its early days,” Schutte said. “I think we should all know that history.”
Schutte said she was surprised about the award. After graduation, she will work for National Review as the magazine’s podcast editor.
Junior Cole McNeely and sophomore Martin Peterson earned second place for their coverage of the Hillsdale baseball game against Wayne State University last spring. The coverage also is one of four finalists for play-by-play coverage of a baseball game for the national Integrated Broadcasting Systems awards.
The irony, however, is that the recording came from a one-off event in which McNeely and Peterson made an attempt to try out the radio equipment on the field.
“We didn’t really do any prep work,” McNeely said. “We couldn’t even connect live, so we played it later. I’m not really sure what to make of this.”
Since then, WRFH has done more coverage of Charger athletics. Peterson has covered basketball games, and McNeely, a former baseball players for the Chargers, said he plans to broadcast on baseball in the fall.
“The positive way of looking at this is: Wow, imagine what we could do if we actually tried,” McNeely said.
WRFH has a busy semester ahead, as it plans to make an inaugural appearance in the Conservative Political Action Conference’s radio row outside Washington, D.C. at the end of the month. It is also looking to make live streaming available online, though all of its programming is available on SoundCloud now.
Bertram and some students will travel to Lansing, Michigan, for the MAB conference on March 7.