WPPJ continues winning legacy with one win, three finalists

Alexander Popichak, Vinnie Ferrainola and Brandon Cross pose with their trophy for best celebrity interview at the Intercollegiate Broadcast System Awards in New York City Saturday, March 4.

Written By Michael Richter, Co-News Editor

WPPJ, Point Park’s student-run radio station, won one award and finished as finalists in three other categories at the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) award ceremony in New York City at the Hotel Pennsylvania March 4.

“Leading up to the event, I was just happy to be sitting there knowing that our school – our small campus radio station – was nominated among the best of the best in the country and can walk away with some awards,” WPPJ station manager Vinnie Ferrainola said in a phone interview Monday. “It truly is an honor to be a part of this great campus radio station.”

WPPJ’s four-trophy stint at the 2017 IBS international conference, which took place from Mar. 3-5, serves as the station’s seventh year winning an IBS award. Ferrainola, Brandon Cross and the Globe’s Editor-in-Chief Alexander Popichak won Best Celebrity Interview for their interview with Sarah Koenig, the host of the renowned podcast “Serial.”

“It was kind of surreal to win that award. It was kind of crazy that we actually won,” Cross said during a phone interview Monday. “It was a big one, and the Sarah Koenig interview was interesting.”

Miranda Van Bramer, Assistant General Manager of the station, scored a finalist award in the Best Promo Series category for her promos about her WPPJ show “Girls Overboard.” In addition, Ferrainola garnered a finalist award in the Best Station Promo video category, and Cross earned a finalist award for Best Public Service Announcement.

“Getting a finalist trophy didn’t mean we weren’t as good as somebody else,” Ferrainola said. “It just meant that they didn’t pick us over somebody else for one reason or another.”

Ferrainola was a bit nervous in the hours leading up to the award ceremony this past Saturday, but after talking to multiple people from radio stations from across the country, he realized that he was satisfied just to be recognized as one of the best college radio stations.

“It made it a little bit easier to sit there and relax and enjoy myself rather than crossing my fingers and hoping we came away with the No. 1 trophy,” Ferrainola said.

Cross did not recall experiencing nerves about the ceremony, and he said that he had not realized the prestige the IBS awards until the day of the award ceremony.

“It kind of hit me that we were up for an award that is something important nationally,” Cross said. “I didn’t really think about it being out of everybody in the United States.”

Cross and Ferrainola both said they and Popichak were “ecstatic” when the trio was announced as winners of the Best Celebrity Interview award.

“Alexander, Vinnie and I were pumped,” Cross said. “They put in a lot of work, and I put in some work; it was rewarding.”

As Ferrainola, Cross and Popichak were deemed victors, Van Bramer became excited.

“At that point, I was really hype,” Van Bramer said in an interview via phone call Monday. “I was like, ‘Oh man, we’re going to bring home more than one winner’s trophy. It’s going to be great.’”

Then the winner for Best Promo Series was announced.

“Once I heard that it wasn’t my name, I was like, ‘Oh, that sucks,’” Van Bramer said.

However, she was still honored to win a finalist’s trophy.

“Being a finalist is still a pretty great recognition,” Van Bramer said. “Not everybody who submitted something is going to get a trophy. They have thousands of submissions, so even if you’re a finalist, it’s a huge recognition – just holding a trophy is awesome.”

Ferrainola is proud to be a part of WPPJ and its award-winning legacy.

Moreover, he believes the station will come away from next year’s IBS awards with more winner’s trophies.

“I have nothing but good things to say about the people who came before me, the people I currently work with and the people I work with now who will stay beyond my years at Point Park,” Ferrainola said. “I won’t be surprised if next year I see Point Park walk out with two or three awards as opposed to one first place trophy and a couple of finalist’s trophies.”