Student-produced programs shine in statewide AP competition

Three television news programs produced by Penn State students earned first-place and another show finished second in a statewide competition

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June 08, 2015

Three television news programs produced by Penn State students earned first-place and another show finished second in a statewide competition during which the students’ work was measured against that of working professionals in medium-sized TV markets across the state of Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Associated Press News Awards annually recognize the best broadcast work in the state, and judges for the contest were impressed with the students’ efforts.

“Centre County Report in Cuba,” which resulted from an international reporting class trip to Cuba, earned first place in the news documentary category competing against entries from TV professionals working in cities like Allentown, Altoona, Harrisburg and Lancaster.

Contest judges offered the program high praise. They said: “What a joyous surprise! A group of students go to Cuba and come back with a profile that hits all the right notes. I learned more, much more watching this than I did from the network newscasts when normalization of relations was announced. This isn’t just fine student journalism, it’s fine journalism period.”

That was the theme for several programs produced by students in the College of Communications. A sports photography piece titled “Going the Distance” was first in its division and an episode of “In the Game,” a sports magazine show, won for news or sports talk.

A separate edition of “Centre County Report,” the weekly student-produced newscast, finished second among all regularly scheduled medium-market TV newscasts. Judges said the broadcast featured “excellent production and reporting with high-caliber talent.”

Along with that success, another show, “Tent City: Nittanyville,” finished first in the student TV category.

Also, numerous Penn State alumni were among winners in the competition. They included:

-- Guy Junker, a 1978 journalism graduate, who was part of WTAE-TV’s first-place team for major-market sportscast;
-- Colin Powell, a 2012 telecommunications graduate, who was a member of the first-place sports play-by-play team for WHP-TV;  
-- Ryan Quinn, a 2010 film major, who helped produce “The Final Word” for WPXI-TV, which was named the best major-market news or sports talk program on TV;
-- Susan Greenbaum, a 1973 advertising graduate, who was part of the WHYY-AM team that finished third in major-market radio, news or sports talk program;
-- Craig Rhodes, a 1979 speech communication graduate, who helped craft the first-place winner from Radio Pennsylvania Network in the medium-market radio sports feature category; and
-- Steve Jones, a 1980 speech communication graduate, who finished third in medium-market radio news or sports talk program for “Pinstripe Bowl Preview” that aired on WKOK-AM.

Three Penn State meteorology majors swept the top spots for weathercast among medium-market TV stations. They were: Eric Finkenbinder (2003), WHTM-TV, first; Brett Thackara (2007), WHTM-TV, second; and Joe Calhoun (1981), WGAL-TV, third.