Wayne State College

Communication Students Win 13 Golden Leaf Awards at Media Conference

Published Friday, April 21st, 2023

KWSC-FM (radio) and The Wayne Stater (newspaper) took home several top places at the Northern Plains Collegiate Media Association's conference April 15.

Several Wayne State College communication students won 13 Golden Leaf Awards during the Northern Plains Collegiate Media Association’s (NPCMA) conference held April 15 at Concordia University in Seward.

Wayne State broadcasting and journalism students competed against undergraduate students from Bethel College, Chadron State, Concordia University, Doane University, Peru State College, and the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

“It was a great learning experience,” said Blake Hilkemeier, a senior from Atkinson. “The panels were full of knowledgeable people and the competition will make us better for next year.” Hilkemeier won first place in the Best Podcast category for “Cat Talk: Thanksgiving Edition.” Hilkemeier and his co-hosts John Campbell and Luke Stara are part of the growing Sports Media program at Wayne State College.

“There was a lot of really good competition, and it’s nice to win an award when you are going up against people who know what they are doing.” said Nathan-Reiland Smith, a senior from Sioux Falls, S.D. Reiland-Smith won second place in the Best Audio Feature Story category for his “Nathan’s Midnight Nighttime Nightmare Hours” program. Reiland-Smith’s senior honor’s project used KWSC-FM staff to raise awareness for domestic violence survivors via the “KWSC 24-Hour Stream” on Twitch this semester. All proceeds went to Haven House in Wayne.

“We now understand what we can improve on for next year,” said Grant Ferrell, a sophomore from Lincoln. Ferrell won second place for Best Audio Promotional Announcement for his promotion of the Wayne State College Food Pantry. Ferrell’s work at KWSC led to an opportunity to intern with KZUM in Lincoln in the summer of 2022. “Learning to use industry software made it easy to go to KZUM and work in a professional setting,” said Ferrell.

Dr. Sean X. Ahern, assistant professor of communication arts at Wayne State and advisor for KWSC-FM, said the students are to be commended for their commitment to broadcasting and the professionalism they’ve displayed.

“I am very proud of the creativity and dedication of our students,” said Ahern. “Wayne State College affords students the opportunity to broadcast from day one of their first year, and their success at NPCMA reflects our commitment to student media.”

Dr. Liz Viall, associate professor of communication arts at Wayne State and advisor to The Wayne Stater student newspaper, said her journalism students have exhibited a tremendous work ethic all year and are very deserving of the recognition.

“Our staff worked hard the past year to produce the best news coverage for The Wayne Stater in print and online,” said Viall. “I’m very happy they’ve been recognized for their work – especially since we’ve earned best overall website once again. These competitions are important, and I’m so proud these students have excelled.”

Maddie Genoways, a junior from Fort Calhoun, wasn’t thinking about winning first place for Best Editorial when she wrote “The Archdiocese of Omaha’s Gender Policy is Dangerous to Kids.”

“This issue is very close to my heart, and I was glad to have the opportunity to write about it for The Wayne Stater,” said Genoways. “Winning an award wasn’t on my mind. I was just happy that it reached a wider audience beyond Wayne State.”

John Campbell, sports editor for The Wayne Stater, won first and second place in the Best Display Ad category.

“It was my first time competing in the Golden Leaf Awards and it was a lot of fun,” said the junior from Grand Island. “The awards are nice, but it’s always great when I get to collaborate with my Wayne Stater colleagues to work toward a higher goal.”

Aubreanna Miller, editor-in-chief of The Wayne Stater, agrees with Campbell.

Miller said Wayne State has a strong journalism program, and everyone should be proud of their accomplishments going forward.

“We have a great group of writers and photographers returning next year, so they will be able to keep the momentum going,” said Miller, a junior from Milford. “Serving as editor-in-chief this year was a thrill for me. Capping off the year with the Golden Leaf Awards makes everyone on the staff very proud.”

For more information about Wayne State’s communication arts department and the broadcasting and journalism programs, visit our Communication Arts, Sports Media, and Journalism pages.

Located in Wayne, Neb., Wayne State College is a proud member of the Nebraska State College System.

KWSC-FM awards:

Tucker Ashburn, Riley, Kan.; Nate Bope, Omaha; and Quinlan Otto, Osceola
Third place, Best Audio Sports Pre-Game or Post-Game Show, “Wildcat Pregame Show: Playoff Edition”

Grant Ferrell, Lincoln
Second place, Best Audio Promotional Announcement, “Wayne State College Food Pantry”

Blake Hilkemeier, Atkinson
Second place, Best Audio Sports Story, “Cat Talk: Interview with Coach Scott Kneifl”
Second place, Best Audio Public Service Announcement, “Halloween Safety”

Nathan Reiland-Smith, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Second place, Best Audio Feature Story, “Nathan’s Midnight Nighttime Nightmare Hours”

Jasmine Snyder, Fairbury
Second place, Best Social Media Presence, KWSC-FM

Wayne Stater awards:

John Campbell, Grand Island
First place, Best Display Ad, “Wildcat October Schedule”
Second place, Best Display Ad, “Central Region Tournament Graphic”

Gage Dawson, Neligh
Third place, Best Feature Story, “Disc Golf Booms in Wayne, Chadron and Peru to Follow”

Maddie Genoways, Fort Calhoun
First place, Best Editorial, “The Archdiocese of Omaha’s Gender Policy is Dangerous to Kids”

Reagan Hudson, Hershey
Third place, Best General News Photo, “WSC Students Play ‘Truth or Dab’ with Hot Sauce”

Luke Stara, Ulysses
Second place, Best Sports Column, “How Heavy Involvement in Sports Affects High Schoolers”

The Wayne Stater
First place, Best Overall Website, thewaynestater.com