Name: Jennifer Burt
Southern Utah University's voice on the airwaves, KSUU Power 91, is making a good case to change the University’s colors from red and white to platinum and gold.
The radio station, staffed completely by students, is basking in the golden light that comes with recognition, including several first-place platinum awards, from their recent showing at the annual Utah Broadcasters Association UBEE awards.
Station Manager Cal Rollins is extremely proud of his students, who competed against both professionals and amateurs from around the state, “We have so many talented on-air personalities; we always do. We’re very lucky to have so many great broadcasters here.”
Current program director Luke Estes, who won platinum for his public service announcement promoting the Nursing blood drive, is happy to be recognized, but mostly just loves what he does. “I had no idea there even was a platinum award, but shooting for the UBEEs has pushed me to be better. Cal teaches us to do everything with the idea of being award-winning.”
In addition to pushing students to produce award-winning work, Rollins also encourages them to be themselves. “Radio isn’t about having a big booming voice; it’s about telling stories. Our number-one job is to connect with listeners as individuals. You have to give them something they can’t get on their ipod.”
Estes used that concept to produce his platinum-winning blood drive spot by helping people connect with the purpose of the blood drive.
“Rather than just asking people to come give their blood,” Estes explains, “we presented an example of a girl that saved her brother’s life by giving blood. The intent was to touch people, and to get them to think about how giving blood affects people.”
In addition to teaching students to connect with people, Rollins also teaches students that the only way to be interesting is to be interested. In other words, students have to care about what they are talking about if they have any hope to make others care.
As Rollins explains, “We are SUU, we want to tell its story and the stories of its students.”
That’s why the station’s programming can change so much from hour to hour as different students focus on what interests them individually. Rather than simply playing music all day every day, some students choose to talk about sports, or politics, or science-fiction – whatever they find interesting.
In all, 13 students came home from the statewide broadcast awards ceremony with UBEE medals.
The formula of connecting to people by passionately telling stories has been a successful one, and all the platinum and gold adorning the walls of the campus radio station prove it.
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