Students and their organizations are not unfamiliar with the struggles of online conferencing platforms, but even lagged internet connection, defective audio and other nuances could not hinder the joy of Montclair State University’s college radio station WMSC when they recently won four national awards.
WMSC joined together for a Zoom viewing party of the 2021 Intercollegiate Broadcasting System Media Awards on Saturday, March 6, where they were announced winners of four out of 12 nominations.
The first of the six boxes in the Zoom call, outlined with a bright green light, captured WMSC General Manager Anabella Poland’s voice as it rang with excitement.
Poland’s quick internet connection allowed her the privilege of hearing many of the night’s awards ahead of her team, including WMSC’s win of Best College Radio Station in the Nation out of colleges with more than 10,000 students.
By also serving as faculty advisor and continuously collaborating with students, administration, faculty and alumni to establish WMSC’s presence, Poland had the personal satisfaction of overseeing the organization’s operation leading up to the award.
Those collaborating with Poland at the station feel that her guidance is what motivated them to step up and overcome the difficulties of remote operation during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
News Director Louis Biondolilo, a junior television and digital media major, expressed how grateful WMSC was to have Poland by their side.
“If it weren’t for her, no one would have pushed us to produce our best content,” Biondolillo said. “And we would not have this award either.”
Poland has dedicated her mission solely to the students of Montclair State by enabling their skill development in radio programming and production.
“Their development and ability to grow confident into the broadcast arts is my product,” Poland said. “And these wins confirmed that when you know your mission and vision, it is easy to create a successful roadmap for your operations.”
Poland feels the achievement signifies she is where she is meant to be, identifying each student’s unique strength, mentoring it and nourishing it.
One of these students includes Station Manager Josh Tirado, a senior television and digital media major with a concentration in audio and sound design, whose work for “WMSC Rewind” was recognized through the award for Best Use of Sound Effects. Tirado also won Best Program Director for his time holding the position last semester.
Along with the title of program director came Tirado’s personal commitment to the station, working over 20 hours a week. This included managing content, overseeing more than 20 shows and training apprentice DJs, which he balanced amid his obligations to classes and life during the pandemic.
Tirado recalled his times editing audio and collecting award submissions in the WMSC office until 3 a.m.
“Each year we’d get a good amount of nominations out of the thirty plus pieces we’d submit, but we’d never win the big one,” Tirado said. “So to finally take home this award in my final year with the station is like poetic justice.”
Tirado’s contributions to WMSC’s success do not go unnoticed by his peers.
Associate Program Director Ashley Koutras, a junior television and digital media major with a concentration in audio and sound design, is astonished by the time and effort Tirado puts into the organization.
“He is so dedicated to the station, it’s crazy,” Koutras said. “I wouldn’t be able to pick another person for [station manager].”
In hoping to one day become station manager herself is current Program Director Kaya Maciak, a junior communication and media arts major.
Maciak won Best Business Director in recognition of her time last semester leading the newsletter, drafting press releases, planning and executing events and taking on secretarial work and countless other tasks.
Maciak’s capability and dedication to WMSC are evident to those who work alongside her.
“She is very on top of things and has always been like that,” Koutras said. “If there’s anything to do with the station, she knows it.”
Maciak views her and the team’s achievements as a testimony to their hard work, as well as indicative of the potential she will have in the media industry in the future. She thanks her closest friends at the station for their support and emphasizes the talent and intelligence of each student leader.
“It’s been such a privilege to work with a tight-knit family,” Maciak said. “Because they inspire me every single day.”
The intimate, familial environment created at WMSC, in combination with each member’s spontaneity, creativity and steadfast commitment to the success of the station, has resulted in nationwide recognition. But more importantly, it yielded an even more inspired, passionate group of students ready to use these accomplishments as fuel to continue producing exceptional content they are proud of.
With the same work etiquette, tenacity and zeal as the past semester, it is no surprise that WMSC is already setting new goals and has their eyes on future prizes.
When asked what he would like to say to his fellow team members on their achievements, it’s safe to say Tirado’s response is representative of WMSC’s unmistakable determination.
“We did it,” Tirado said. “Keep up the hard work. Let’s go back to back [with awards].”