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2009 News Releases
Longwood radio station receives statewide award
July 7, 2009
Longwood University campus radio station WMLU (91.3 FM) recently received the Virginia Association of Broadcasters' award for Outstanding Sports Coverage for a non-commercial/public radio station. [Listen to the award entry audio clip below]
For radio, the award (also given to a television station) honors the best daily sportscast or play-by-play seasonal segment. The award recognizes WMLU's five-member sports staff, whose work includes live broadcasts of men's and women's basketball games and baseball games and a one-hour twice-weekly sports call-in show. The award was presented June 26 during the VAB's annual awards banquet in Virginia Beach.
The award was accepted by Keenan Crump, the station's sports director, and Nathan Epstein, both rising juniors, who often handle the broadcasting duties for basketball and baseball games and co-host the call-in show. WMLU's sports staff also includes Courtney Jones, a rising junior, Chris Medding, a rising senior, and Derek Poe, who will graduate in December 2009. In addition to Crump and Epstein, Jones attended the awards banquet, as did WMLU's general manager, Gerry Martin, and a co-adviser, Jeff Halliday, assistant professor of communications.
Crump and Epstein, who are interested in pursuing a career in sports broadcasting, began broadcasting women's and men's basketball games in the fall of 2008 and baseball games in the spring of 2009. Except for a women's basketball game they did from Virginia Tech - the first broadcast of an away women's basketball game in seven years - all of the basketball and baseball games they did were home games.
"When they were freshmen, Keenan and Nathan elected to bring sports broadcasting back to Longwood," said Halliday, who advises WMLU along with William Lynn, Longwood's multimedia supervisor (who hosts a radio show on local station WFLO-FM). "It had been about five years since there been live broadcasting of a sporting event. Nathan and Keenan are real go-getters. They have worked hard to develop a professional standard that would elevate our broadcasting to the highest level."
Their sports call-in show, "At the Buzzer," aired every Monday and Friday from 2 to 3 p.m. during the recent spring semester. It was launched in fall 2007 by Epstein, whose first co-host was Medding, and originally was called "The Longwood Sports Hour" and was a two-hour show that aired once a week. Crump joined the show at the end of the fall semester in 2007 and became co-host in spring 2008.
The five members of WMLU's sports staff rotate broadcasting duties among board operation, studio work, and on-air performance. Crump, Epstein and Jones are majoring in communication studies, Medding in criminology, and Poe in history.
"Sports broadcasting is really close to my heart because before I took this job (in 2007), I was a television sports anchor and reporter at WDTV in Clarksburg, West Virginia," said Halliday. "We hope the award will help the station staff dedicate themselves to a more professional brand of broadcasting, while having fun at the same time."
WMLU (www.wmlu.org) does live web streaming of music and student programming 24 hours a day, seven days a week. "Thanks to the web streaming, which I established in 2007 as chief engineer, we are worldwide," Martin said. "We have listeners in Europe; I have friends in Iceland who listen to the station. Before, when we had just an antenna, we could reach only about 30 miles away, to around Appomattox, which isn't bad for a small station."
The station, which started in 1981, has had three sets of call letters and four homes on campus. It started as WUTA, later changed its call letters to WLCX and changed them again to WMLU when Longwood became a university in 2002, which is also when the station went from 10 watts to 250 watts. Originally on the top floor of Jarman Hall ("You can still see the 10-watt antenna on the roof of Jarman," Martin said, adding the current antenna is atop Frazer), WMLU moved to Hiner, then to the former Ruffner (in what had been the president's office), and back to Hiner, where currently it is in G-17.
WMLU is funded mostly by the Student Government Association, with the rest of its budget coming from member dues. It has about 60 members, who pay $10 dues per semester as general members (such as sportscasters, newscasters, remote disc jockeys, etc.) and $20 dues as on-air DJs. The station also earns $30 a week from hosting Trivia Night, which started at WingShak and now is held at the Mad Hatter, another Farmville restaurant. "We've been doing Trivia Night in some form since 2004, the same year that our (free) on-campus DJ service, in which we play the music for Longwood-affiliated events, started," said Martin. "Our two major events every year are Battle of the Bands, at Oktoberfest, and Bandfest, at Spring Weekend, which started in 1993."
Martin, a non-traditional student, has been involved with the station since entering Longwood in fall 2004, and he became a member of its executive board when he was made chief engineer in spring 2005. Later he was both program director and chief engineer for a year, and he became general manager in 2008. "I have been continuously a board member since spring 2005," said the computer science major. "A 12-member board, all students of various majors, runs the station on a day-to-day basis. There are no paid positions on the staff. It's almost a full-time job for all of the board members, but we love it."
WMLU's entry in the VAB awards program was a 10-minute audio file, compiled by the station's sports staff, that included segments from game broadcasts and from the call-in show. This was the first time the station had submitted for a VAB award. Anchor and-or reporter delivery, writing, use of video, and overall on-air presentation are judged. The category of non-commercial or public radio stations includes all radio stations with no advertising.
"The award was gratifying because it was validation from our peers," Martin said. "In the future, we'll submit for VAB awards in other categories as well."
The award features a real microphone mounted on a base. Interestingly, the keynote speaker for the VAB's 72nd annual awards program was the rector of the Longwood Board of Visitors, John B. Adams Jr., who is president and CEO of The Martin Agency, a Richmond-based advertising firm.
WMLU's Award Entry
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