UMSL Radio, UTV win Intercollegiate Broadcasting System Media Award

by | Mar 25, 2024

UTV won first prize in the “Best Variety Program” category for “Triton Chat – Episode 1,” which featured UMSL trivia challenges with students across campus.
Jalen Walker-Wright, Aliena Abernathy, Aden Adams

UMSL students (from left) Jalen Walker-Wright, Aliena Abernathy and Aden Adams traveled to New York to represent UMSL Radio and UTV at the 2024 Intercollegiate Broadcasting System Conference. UMSL Radio and UTV were nominated in two categories of the 2023-24 IBS Media Awards, and UTV won first prize for “Triton Chat – Episode 1.” (Photos courtesy of Jalen Walker-Wright)

Aliena Abernathy almost didn’t notice when the “University of Missouri–St. Louis” was announced over the loudspeaker at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel.

Reflexively, Abernathy began clapping for the winner of “Best Variety Program” at the 2024 Intercollegiate Broadcasting System Conference before realizing it was UMSL. After a brief moment, she snapped to attention.

“I was the one nominated to run up and actually accept the award,” she said. “I just jumped up real fast; I kind of did a little jog halfway. It was great. It’s a very quick sort of transaction because they have so many awards. You kind of run up there, grab the award and go back to your seat. It felt really big, and I was super proud to be able to bring this home for UMSL Radio. I had so much pride for everyone who participated in that project.”

Abernathy and fellow UMSL students Aden Adams and Jalen Walker-Wright traveled to New York to represent UMSL Radio and UTV at the annual conference and award ceremony on March 1 and 2. UMSL’s student-managed radio station and its associated video channel were finalists in two categories of the 2023-24 IBS Media Awards: “Best Variety Program” and “Best Use of Video in Radio Studio.”

UTV took home the win for “Triton Chat – Episode 1,” besting submissions from thousands of colleges and universities across the country. Abernathy, Emily Jesse, Ty Weismiller, Remy Xa and advisor Keith Robinson produced the video segment, which featured on-the-spot UMSL trivia challenges with students across campus. UMSL Radio was also nominated for Katie George’s “Who’s Who at UMSL Radio” video segment.

Walker-Wright, UMSL Radio general manager, and Abernathy, UTV lead producer, were conscious of the stiff competition ahead of the awards but still felt optimistic.

“It’s always kind of nerve-wracking going in knowing that there’s so many other competitors in the same category, that there’s so many other schools who maybe have more established TV or radio departments,” Abernathy said. “However, we came in pretty confident. I think we thought we had a pretty good chance with the segments we came with.”

The trio credited the win to support from several advisors including Dorian Hall, director of the Millennium Student Center and Event Services; Lester Stewart, associate director of Event Services; Kerry Manderbach, adjunct professor of communication and media; and Robinson.

Adams, who, with Walker-Wright, was instrumental in reviving the radio station after it went dormant around 2020, highlighted Robinson’s contributions to UMSL Radio and UTV in particular.

Robinson, an information systems alum, joined UMSL Radio as a student and regularly volunteered his time and expertise after graduation. When Adams and Walker-Wright expressed interest in reviving the station in 2022, Robinson stepped in to help them get it off the ground and has continued to offer guidance as an advisor.

“None of this would have been possible without our advisor, Keith Robinson,” Adams said. “He edited the video that we submitted. He’s been helping us keep the various equipment running in the station and in the TV studio, as well. Without Keith, we wouldn’t have gotten to New York. We wouldn’t have won this award. UMSL Radio and UTV just wouldn’t exist at all.”

Aliena Abernathy, Jalen Walker-Wright, Aden Adams

Aliena Abernathy, Jalen Walker-Wright and Aden Adams take in Times Square during the trip to New York.

In addition to the awards ceremony, the students participated in panels and workshops on topics such as audio production, branding, interviewing, podcasting, reporting, storytelling and more. Abernathy and Walker-Wright found the keynote talk on content creation especially insightful. Eric Wellman, program director for Q104.3, encouraged attendees to be attentive to the small details of everyday life and find the humor or novelty in them.

“You never know what you might hear, what you may see,” Walker-Wright said. “So, you just take those things, do a little research and then that ultimately creates the content – from people’s conversations, from what you see on social media.”

The trio also took advantage of the opportunity to explore New York. Over the course of two days, the students trekked through a significant portion of Manhattan including Central Park, Chinatown, East Harlem, Greenwich Village, Koreatown, Little Italy, Times Square and Washington Square Park. They enjoyed immersing themselves in the city’s cultural diversity and vibrancy.

“For me, it was just an eye-opening experience because I’d never been to New York before,” Walker-Wright said.

The trip has inspired Abernathy, Adams and Walker-Wright to continue working to expand UMSL Radio and UTV. Abernathy said UTV plans to introduce “Triton Channel,” a monthly, 20-minute news segment this semester. Walker-Wright added that UMSL Radio aims to increase participation among students, staff and faculty and to find an FM channel to broadcast on. There are also ambitions to increase the audio range of UMSL Radio throughout the MSC and potentially other parts of campus.

Walker-Wright is graduating in May, but he’s confident the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System Conference will become an annual tradition going forward.

“I don’t believe UMSL Radio’s going to fall by the wayside,” he said. “I think they’re going to continue to grow, continue to expand, and they will have many more trips to the IBS Conference.”

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