An Interview with Murrow Award Recipient and SUU Alumnus, Ben Winslow - KSL Radio PersonalitySeptember 13, 2004
Author: Renee Ballenger
Ben Winslow, alumnus communication student of Southern Utah University, has been named the recipient of the national, prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award,
The Murrow Award, named after the famous and accomplished broadcast journalist, is the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize in the world of radio and television. According to Radio-Television News Directors Association and Foundation, “Murrow Award recipients demonstrate the spirit of excellence that Edward R. Murrow made a standard for the broadcast news profession.”
“This is wonderful news for Ben; he’s a talented broadcaster,” Dean O’Driscoll, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, and fellow SUU communication alum, declares. "And it’s certainly a statement about the quality of the education Ben received at SUU.”
Tasha Williams, current communication SUU student spent some time visiting with Ben about his education at SUU, his career since then, and the details on the particular project that brought him the honor of receiving the Murrow Award.
What got you interested in broadcast news?
It was really one of those things I fell into. I started doing news for SUU because they paid $60 a month. As a college student you do anything for money. I really liked instructors, Dr. Grady and Art Challis. I started doing more of it. I was interested in doing newspaper, so I worked for the University Journal. As part of the communication major, I started doing broadcasting as well. I got offered a job at KBRE radio in Cedar City (B 94.9 now). It played heavy metal. I started out changing reels of music on weekends, and then I eventually started doing news for them.
Ben wrote for his high school newspaper, too, at American Fork High School.
How long have you been at KSL? What is your current title, etc?
I have been a reporter/producer at KSL for five years. I’ve learned a lot. I’m still learning. A lot of times it’s a school of hard knocks; there’s not quite a teacher like the street. You just go out there and do the best you can. You never know what story you’re going to be doing from one day to the next. You’ve got to be able to adopt to anything from crime to politics to feature stories and sometimes you do all of those stories in one day.
Elaborate as to how your award-winning piece was based on your experiences in Cedar City?
Actually, that was where I went when I did the story. It was kind of amusing because I had heard about this trend of people camping at WalMart. Google searches cover a whole culture of camping at WalMart. I’d heard about it anecdotally and just thought I’d go down and check it out. I went down last fall. I ran into people from all over the country; it’s this whole subculture that goes on. They go from town to town to town because just about every town has a WalMart. You have people who basically pull in and spend the night for free. They shop at WalMart. It’s ‘camping on the cheap.’ WalMart doesn’t encourage it but doesn’t object to it. I met very fascinating people; one woman just moves around, and hasn’t seen a winter in years.
How did SUU affect the person you’ve become now?
I got my start down there. I got my start in the broadcasting program at SUU. I got hands- on experience. I got total attention and was allowed to thrive and to grow at SUU. The story (I won the Murrow Award for) took place in Cedar City—a place I’m familiar with.
How prestigious is the Edward R. Murrow Award?
It’s national. We’re talking competition in Washington, D.C., New York, L.A., Seattle, Boston, Denver. It’s pretty big. I’m kind of stoked about it! I found about it a couple of months ago. I go next month to New York to accept the Award; it’s a ceremony just to hand out these awards. Brian Williams, and Barbara Walters will likely show up. It’s one of the biggest awards you can receive. This is like the Oscar of broadcast news. I’m thrilled! It’s not something I expected; they felt this piece was really worth it. It’s quite flattering to be considered and win for that.
With this award under your belt, what are some of your goals for the future?
I’m 26--I don’t know. I’m very happy at KSL right now; it’s one of best stations in the nation to work for. I freelance for CBS Network, which is fun and exciting. We just kind of have to see.
The radio and television broadcasting program at SUU is an effective program that produces successful journalists who are regularly requested by media outlets as interns and full-time employees. Oftentimes, SUU communication graduates walk into an entry-level position and find themselves training their new fellow employees on latest technologies. SUU communication students receive hands-on experience immediately, beginning in their first and second years of study.
To listen to Ben’s award-winning story, “Camping At Wal-Mart,” go to http://radio.ksl.com/index.php?nid=19&sid=53975
Written by Tasha Williams, a senior political science/communication major from North Salt Lake, Utah