WPPJ notches four national radio awards


Photo by Chloe Jakiela | The Globe

Miranda Van Bramer edits portions of her radio show, “Girls Overboard,” in the WPPJ studio Monday. Van Bramer is the Assistant General Manager and was nominated for an Intercollegiate Broadcast System’s Best Promo for her show.

Written By Michael Richter, Co-News Editor

WPPJ, Point Park’s student-operated radio station, was nominated for four 2017 Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) awards, marking its seventh-consecutive year in which it has earned nominations.

“It’s an honor,” WPPJ member Brandon Cross said regarding the radio station’s nominations. “It’s akin to a college football team going to the Orange Bowl for a seventh time in a row.”

WPPJ station manager Vinnie Ferrainola, Cross and the Globe’s Editor-in-Chief Alexander Popichak were nominated for Best Celebrity Interview, as they interviewed Sarah Koenig, the host of the popular podcast “Serial.” Miranda Van Bramer garnered a Best Promo Series nomination for her promos about her WPPJ show “Girls Overboard.”

“It’s great to be recognized for something we’ve worked so hard for at WPPJ,” Ferrainola said.

Ferrainola earned another nomination in the Best Station Promo category, and Cross also notched a second nomination for Best Public Service Announcement (PSA).

“To be nominated for Best Station Promo in video format was really cool,” Ferrainola said. “I couldn’t be happier. I can’t say enough good things about it.”

Before Koenig visited Point Park this past September as part of the opening festivities for the Center for Media Innovation (CMI), Director Andrew Conte emailed Ferrainola to ask if he or anybody else he knew wanted to interview the host of the most downloaded podcast of all-time.

“I immediately responded and said that I would love to interview her,” Ferrainola said. “As a huge fan of the ‘Serial’ podcast, I could not pass that up.”

However, prior to this, Ferrainola had never interviewed someone of Koenig’s notoriety, so he searched for some help.

At the first WPPJ meeting of the 2016 fall semester, Ferrainola asked if anyone would like to join him in interviewing Koenig. Immediately after his announcement, Popichak, a fan of Koenig, quickly raised his hand.

Ferrainola also enlisted Cross, who was excited to do the interview.

“I was all aboard because Koenig’s pretty famous,” Cross said.

Cross and Ferrainola both expressed that Koenig was humble and affable before, during and after the interview, which was something they did not expect.

“Some of the requests she had put in before she came to Point Park made it seem like she wanted to be treated like a big celebrity,” Ferrainola said.

Once the students met Koenig, they realized she was a down-to-earth person.

“To meet her felt like you were talking to a teacher or a family friend you’ve known for years,” Ferrainola said. “She was so nice and she was excited to talk to us.”

Cross agreed with Ferrainola.

“You’d expect someone who has hundreds of millions of listeners of their artistic works to be a little high and mighty in a way, but she was absolutely personable,” Cross said.

After the interview with Koenig finished, Ferrainola and Popichak both breathed a sigh of relief.

“Koenig said, ‘Oh, were you guys nervous to do this interview?’” Ferrainola said. “We replied, ‘We’re both huge fans, so we were a little nervous to do this interview.”

Koenig then assured them that they did well, which was Ferrainola’s favorite part of the experience.

“’You guys did a great job,’” Koenig said to Ferrainola, Cross and Popichak. “‘You were very professional.’”

Ferrainola’s award-nominated WPPJ video promo started out as his final project for a class, Video Production and Editing. Ferrainola felt the station required a promo, as the previous one was out of date. Many of the students featured were no longer a part of WPPJ.

“I said, ‘Let’s set up a promo we can put on the front page of our website,’” Ferrainola said. “Luckily, it turned out really well.”

Ferrainola interviewed WPPJ member Ty Polk, who won the Best Drama at the IBS awards last year for the station promo.

“That was a nice little touch,” Ferrainola said regarding the coincidence. “So I was really happy it was nominated for Best Station Promo. And it ended up being better than I thought it was.”

At the beginning of last semester, Van Bramer created a a 30-second promo for “Girls Overboard” with her co-host. However, she got a new co-host as her original one was unable to fulfill her duties anymore. Thus, Van Bramer had to create a second promo, which also lasted 30 seconds.

“So I played off the fact that I had a new co-host in the second promo,” Van Bramer said.

Van Bramer created a third promo, which was 15 seconds long, that explains the genres of music that plays on her show.

Van Bramer did not anticipate her promo series to be nominated for an IBS award, but she wanted to submit something to be considered for nomination.

“I was in disbelief when I was nominated,” Van Bramer said.

WPPJ does not expect to go stagnant.  As WPPJ station manager, Ferrainola plans to do everything in his power to ensure WPPJ receives IBS nominations for an eighth year in a row.

“Every year, we get to be among the best college radio stations in the country,” Ferrainola said. “And I’m excited to make this next semester even better for the students.”

The 2017 IBS award winners will be announced on Mar. 4 in New York City.