GVSU media students win awards at Michigan Association of Broadcasters ceremony

Megan Webster

Over spring break, students from Grand Valley State University working for different media outlets received awards for their work from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB) student media awards at a ceremony in Lansing, Michigan.

This award system allows students, both in high school and college, to submit work they created within the past calendar year that has been distributed on campus media in some way, shape or form for recognition. It is completely free for students to submit their work. These nominations can come in the form of radio, news, sports or feature stories and are judged by working professionals. Schools can also win an overall school award if they have enough points by the end of the ceremony.

The GVSU student-run radio station, WCKS “The Whale,” won first place for sports broadcasting for the third year in a row, second place for best on-air personality and an honorable mention in the daily newscast/news feature category.

Len O’Kelly, assistant professor of multimedia journalism and faculty supervisor for GVTV and “The Whale,” said these awards allow students to add to their profile when they are out searching for jobs.

“When everybody goes to graduate from college, they are leaving with identical diplomas,” O’Kelly said. “You’re going into a crowded job field, especially media. Having the degree used to be a market distinction, but it’s not anymore.”

GVSU students competed against top media schools such as University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Central Michigan University. O’Kelly said GVSU students continue to beat out these schools year after year, making the sports broadcasters at “The Whale” some of the best in the state.

“We compete against Michigan, Michigan State, Central Michigan, all the big media schools, and they have their FM stations and whatnot,” O’Kelly said. “‘The Whale’ is this tiny radio station in the basement of Kirkhof, and we won three pretty good-size awards this year. 

“The sportscasters won against University of Michigan, who submitted the Michigan versus Michigan State football game as their entry. We won with girl’s hockey.”

This award system is not only a good marketing tool for students who are graduating with a media degree, though. O’Kelly said the awards added to GVSU’s profile as a media school to appeal to prospective students and the surrounding community.

“It raises our profile,” O’Kelly said. “I know, too, from talking to prospective students when I’ve given the tour for high school students, and I say we have the best sports (broadcasting) program in the states. You want to do sports? You should probably come to Grand Valley.”

Meghan McBrady, the news director at “The Whale,” wrote a story called “Questioning student initiatives at the White House” and received an honorable mention at the awards ceremony earlier this month. In order to write this story, she was fortunate enough to travel to Washington, D.C., with O’Kelly, being one of only twelve students across the United States to be allowed access at the time, to attend briefings from the White House staff on college affordability, financial aid for college students and climate change.

She used her skills to ask the Obama administration difficult questions, resulting in an honorable mention for her story at the MAB student media awards. She said this nomination allowed her to portray her professionalism, adding a sense of seriousness to her work.

“It really shows your professionalism in that regard because you’re demonstrating that there is this seriousness to your work,” McBrady said, “that if you are willing to go above and beyond in your work, and you’re not afraid to look for the questions yourself, it really makes you stand out.”