Radio Free Hills­dale’s ‘The Loft’ won a national broadcast award last weekend. Dixon | Collegian

Radio Free Hillsdale’s “The Loft” won first place for Best Comedy show in the college-radio equiv­alent of the Academy Awards. 

“The Loft” is a weekly comedy variety show hosted by junior Rachel Kookogey, senior Caleb Ramette, and sophomore Nick Treglia and pro­duced by freshman Josh Camp. The show, as Kookogey put it, “covers any­thing we find inter­esting or funny.”

Familiar seg­ments from the show include its iconic opening segment, “Wacky World,” where a host will read a bizarre or funny article; the “Florida Man,” a game in which the hosts must determine which one of three head­lines fea­turing a Florida man are fake, is also popular among listeners.

The show was entered into the 2020 Inter­col­le­giate Broad­casting Ser­vices Awards by Scot Bertram, the general manager of WRFH. Bertram sub­mitted nine minutes worth of the show’s best clips that the hosts put together. 

Usually, finalists attend a summit in New York City where they par­tic­ipate in various radio broad­casting panels and receive awards. Due to COVID-19 restric­tions, the event was made virtual this year. In place of the summit, Bertram hosted the stu­dents at his house for dinner and the award ceremony.

“We were hyped,” Treglia said. “On the ride home from the digital screening we were playing ‘We Are the Cham­pions’ and DJ Khaled’s ‘All I Do Is Win.’” 

Kookogey, a finalist last year for a sportscast, said she was sur­prised by the results. 

“Going into this, I was honored that we were finalists,” she said. ”But I hon­estly didn’t think we were going to win first place.” 

Treglia agreed, saying the group’s first show was not well-received.

“Our pilot show was so hor­rible last year we started calling our­selves the ‘Project Boot­strap of Radio Free Hillsdale.’ It’s amazing to see where we are at now. Last year, we spent several chaotic hours in the recording booth strug­gling to make a pilot we could put on air. But now, we bring strong, enter­taining content in our show,” Treglia said.

Kookogey noted the irony in “The Loft” receiving an IBS award after a satirical con­ver­sation with Treglia.

“Last year when I was a finalist, I went to the library and saw Nick there. I told him I was headed to New York in March for the awards, and he said, ‘No fair! Can you imagine ‘The Loft’ traipsing around New York and becoming an award-winning show?’ And so that was the event where we decided we wanted to pursue this seri­ously. We worked on improving the quality of our seg­ments and getting feedback,” she said.

“The Loft” faced dif­fi­culties in its first season, since stu­dents did not return to campus after spring break last year due to the pan­demic. But despite the chal­lenges, the group was able to pick up where it left off. 

“What was amazing was that when we came back to campus in the fall, we just got into the groove,” Ramette said. “Our best content was easily the Hal­loween Harbor Basement segment. We recorded our­selves stum­bling around, acting like weird things happen down in the basement of the Harbor, an off-campus house. But the punchline is the fact that there’s not a ghost.”

Treglia credited the team’s chem­istry as the reason for the show’s success. 

“Our show plays off each other’s per­son­al­ities and we built a program that only goes up from here,” he said. “Even though we won the award, we’ll still be back in the studio recording because I think it’s some­thing each one of us gen­uinely enjoys doing.”

Scot Bertram said it’s an honor for any program to win an award at IBS. 

“‘The Loft’ brought together four stu­dents from dif­ferent classes with great chem­istry to succeed in cre­ating a comedy program with genuine humor,” Bertram said.