Hillsdale students are known for their ability to write, but unbeknownst to some is their penchant for charming listeners over the airwaves through the college’s radio station, Radio Free Hillsdale.
Eight Hillsdale students were nominated as finalists in the national Intercollegiate Broadcasting System Awards in early December, and five will travel to New York in March to attend the awards.
Radio Free Hillsdale was named as a finalist in six categories, including Best Speciality Music Show: The Spin Room, created by Matt Montgomery ‘19; Best Talk Program: Off Topic, created by Shad Strehle ‘19, Dylan Strehle ‘19, and senior Carson Waites; Most Innovative/Creative Program: State Facts, created by sophomore Jane O’Connor; Best Public Affairs Program: The Policy Corner, created by freshman Josh Barker; Best News Interview: Gov. Scott Walker at CPAC 2019, conducted by junior Stefan Kleinhenz; and finally, Best Sports Update, conducted by sophomore Rachel Kookogey.
General manager of the radio station and Professor of Journalism Scot Bertram said that Hillsdale competes against top schools across the country.
“If you look at these schools who get the final spots, they’re big names and big schools, and they’re also the schools that have the reputation for having very good broadcasting programs,” Bertram said. “For IBS, anyone in the top 10 percent of submissions at a specific category is named a finalist.”
Winners will be chosen among the finalists at the IBS award ceremony in March.
Director of the Dow Journalism Program John Miller said the nominations are a great way for Hillsdale students to be recognized.
“We have an excellent radio station with lots of talented students,” Miller said in an email. “It’s great to see them win this recognition for their hard work.”
Bertram said that all nominated students are worthy of recognition, and hopes for a repeat of last year’s success.
“Last year Ben Dietderich won first place nationally for Best News Interview which was with John Bolton at CPAC 2018,” Bertram said. “We have a finalist this year,
Stefan Kleinhenz, who interviewed former Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker at CPAC 2019, so we do have a chance to potentially win back-to-back first place in that category which would be pretty neat.”
Ultimately for Bertram, the awards are a way for students to be acknowledged for their efforts.
“There’s two ways the students can really know that people are listening and paying attention,” Bertram said. “One is to get that feedback on campus and from the community, but the other way is to say here’s our best stuff and how does it match up against students and shows at other schools? It’s a good way for the students to get some feedback and acknowledgement of the hard work that they’re putting out for their programs, features, and shows.”
Sophomore Jane O’Connor, creator of the nominated feature show, “State Facts” — where she quizzes students about their own home-states — couldn’t agree more.
“It was really nice to have something I made earn recognition, and I’m glad other people liked it,” she said.
O’Connor said she was initially surprised when she heard “State Facts” was nominated.
“I feel like when you’re creating anything you’re sort of like, ‘Wow, am I even enjoying this? Have I forgotten what made it enjoyable in the first place? Like are other people actually going to like it?’” O’Connor said. “So, it’s nice to think that at least one person listened to it and thought, ‘Oh, this isn’t half bad.’ And now I get to go to New York out of that.”