March 18, 2014

Finding Success on the Air

Members of WIRE took home several awards at the 2014 Intercollegiate Broadcasting System Annual Conference

The Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) held its annual conference in New York during the second weekend of March, and Wentworth’s WIRE radio station took home a wealth of awards: Best Liner/Sweeper (Justice Wright, Under the Radar), Most Innovative Programming (Maya Bloom, Freshman Beats), Best Specialty Music Show (Erik Pohl, Movin’ N Groovin’), Best Website, and Best Streaming/Online Radio Station.

WIRE has enjoyed unprecedented success and growth after the donation of a new radio facility in 2012 by Stephen Fusi, ME ’74, and Mindy Pollack Fusi as part of the Tomorrow Fund to build the Flanagan Campus Center. The new facility, along with the cutting-edge technology found within, have encouraged more students to take part and has given Wentworth the tools to compete with other stations on a national level.

Joshua Ramirez, CIS ’15, is WIRE's station director. He shares the sights and sounds of the weekend below.

Just over two years ago, I stepped into a classroom in the late evening, and participated in an all-hands meeting for a fledgling college radio station. At the time, we had low membership and low funding—not to mention a studio that was lost to construction. But we also had a small contingent of students that felt strongly about the potential of our broadcasting, and its ability to support and enrich the Wentworth community (and beyond).

Indeed, it was at that moment that WIRE first began to see its new, student-only leadership step in and work harder than ever toward the success of the station. Undaunted by the many challenges ahead, members began to speak loudly with students and faculty about the virtues of WIRE, and saw a promising spark of renewed interest in response. A new studio and a full re-launch, complete with a brand-new website and selection of programming, led to a clear reply from the community: We like what we're hearing, and we want more.

Thus, over a period of semesters, our efforts began to culminate into a swift recovery of the organization, followed by a surge in growth backed by sharp increases in listenership and funding. Somehow, we had managed to make exciting once more the opportunity for students to broadcast to the world. And we couldn't have been more thrilled about it.

Fast forward to this year, and WIRE has continued down the path toward establishing itself as a hub of creativity and expression for the community. In the fall, a new class of students—sharing our enthusiasm for radio—quickly filled our ranks, greatly expanding our catalogue of shows. A collaborative effort with the Humanities and Social Sciences Department and Professor Falvey saw a classroom presence in our studio alongside integration of broadcasting in an academic course for credit—a first for any student organization. And the participation of faculty (such as Professor Lazarovich) in programming, alongside shows put on by clubs like the Competitive Video Gaming Club

(CVGC), introduced a fascinating and impressive diversity to our catalogue.

These developments in combination gave WIRE the opportunity to, for the first time in its history, explore the opportunity of participating with our fellow college radio stations on a national stage— namely, that of the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System's 2014 national conference. And, supported by a Professional Development Grant awarded by Campus Life, we submitted applications for a variety of awards, with the hopes of bringing home some well-deserved recognition for the impressive work our membership and DJs had done in the past year.

A month before we were to travel to the conference in New York, we were notified that we were finalists for national awards in five categories. Three of these awards were for student shows, and the fourth put our website up as a potential national-best! The fifth, however, was for the best internet radio station in the United States—a huge accolade, and recognition that we were already in company of the top college broadcasters in the nation.

Indeed, even as we arrived at the conference and attended the many sessions throughout the course of the weekend, there was a perceptible anticipation for the upcoming awards ceremony, where the winners of all categories would be first announced. Sitting in the rooftop ballroom, our leadership, joined by a few additional students and our advisor, Steve Rossi, exchanged hushed remarks of good luck as the event began.

Amid a quiet and nervous climate, the winners were announced at a slow, measured clip. For the Best Specialty Show and Most Unique Program awards, Erik Pohl and Maya Bloom received trophies for their impressive finalist placement. For the Best ID/Sweeper, a production-oriented award, our own Justice Wright won, in a category proclaimed as the one with the most submissions. And for the best website, wire.wit.edu handily won the top trophy. 

But then, the finalists were read for the best online radio station in the nation. "UIC, DePaul University, St. Peter's, Simmons..." All schools with broadcasting majors. All stations backed by academic departments.

And then, "Wentworth Institute of Technology". Us.

With deliberate pause, the president of the organization looked down at his notes, and, with a drawn-out moment of silence, he proclaimed "The winner, from the great city of Boston, Massachusetts... WIRE from Wentworth Institute of Technology!" Somehow, through the passion and work of students and faculty, and by the virtue of riding a wave of community support, we had bested the most formidable competition in the nation. We had won.

Yet, after the ceremony, and during our celebratory handshakes and hugs, one phrase above all others was the most oft-repeated, with respect to our recent victory, a sentence that we've told ourselves again and again since that evening two years ago:

"We've only just started, haven't we?"

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