Only three years old, Radio Free Hillsdale 101.7 FM is already winning national recognition.
Seniors Ryan Kelly Murphy and Jenna Suchyta both placed in the annual College Broadcasters Inc. National Student Production Awards. Murphy took third place for Best Audio Newscast, and Suchyta took fourth in Best Audio Documentary for her production “A Problem of Pain” on the opioid epidemic. They were able to attend the awards ceremony, as well as conference sessions, this weekend in Seattle, Washington. This was the first year Hillsdale’s radio program was eligible to be nominated for CBI awards, according to Scot Bertram, general manager of the radio station.
“I’m so proud of our station as a whole, that so early in we’ve sharpened our skills to a point where we can be truly competitive against bigger schools and radio programs that have been around longer. That shows the greatness of Hillsdale,” Murphy said.
Suchyta also was excited to see what these awards mean for the radio broadcasting program on campus.
“We’re still a very young program; the station only started in my sophomore year,” she said in an email. “To see the successes that we are already seeing from all the students that are involved is more than I really imagined when I went to that first meeting.”
The fact that Hillsdale is placing alongside larger schools with well-known radio programs, Bertram said, says something about the students here.
“It’s a reflection of the seriousness and commitment to every part of their activities on campus,” he said. “Everybody is giving everything they have to all of those organizations, and that’s been reflected here since the start.”
Murphy said she expects the trend of growth in audience and outreach is going to continue.
“It shows that we are a radio force to be reckoned with in the college arena, and beyond,” Murphy said. “So many students are training to become broadcasters. It’s an exciting place to be right now.”
Beyond the award ceremony, Murphy and Suchyta both were glad to have the opportunity to attend the conference itself. Suchyta emphasized that the trip to Seattle was about learning from the conference even more than winning awards.
“It wasn’t just an awards ceremony,” Murphy said. “The conference featured so many areas for radio we can work on or improve on — news copy, expanding your reach. Even if we hadn’t walked away with awards, it would have been beneficial because we would have walked away with skills we can apply here.”