WCSU 2014 ‘Election Connection’ wins national broadcast award
Students earn first place in Broadcast Education Association competition

Image of the "Election Connection" crewDANBURY, CONN. — The student crew who produced and directed the Western Connecticut State UniversityElection Connection” live broadcast of results and analysis of the November 2014 state and congressional elections has received first-place honors in the nationwide collegiate competition conducted by the Broadcast Education Association (BEA) for its 2015 Festival of Media Arts.

The BEA, a professional association of faculty, students and industry professionals who seek to advance teaching and research in the field of electronic media, selected the Western students who led the “Election Connection” production team as first-place recipients in the Studio (Multi-Camera or Live-to-Tape) category of the Student Video competition in the festival. The WCSU broadcast prevailed in one of seven Student Video categories judged in the festival and was among 1,352 entries overall that were submitted by students and faculty at universities and colleges across the United States. The formal awards presentation will take place during the annual BEA convention and Festival of Media Arts from April 12 to 15 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The 2014 “Election Connection” broadcast aired from 8 to 11 p.m. on Nov. 4 from the Charter Communications Cable Access Studio in Newtown, providing live coverage on local Charter Cable and AT&T U-verse channels of congressional and state office election results in 17 western Connecticut cities and towns. The program, which also featured student reports on policy and electoral issues, aired in a radio simulcast on WXCI-FM (91.7) and streamed live on the WCSU and WXCI websites.

The BEA award cited Siobhan Ryan, of Danbury, director and co-producer of “Election Connection”; Nick Skowronski, of Watertown, co-producer; Connor Misset, of Windsor, producer and coordinator of field teams; and Megan Readey, of Wallingford, associate producer and assistant technical director.

WCSU Associate Professor of Communication and Media Arts Dr. JC Barone, executive producer for the program, noted contest requirements limiting submissions to no more than four production members meant the award citation does not reflect the full breadth of participation. Barone said other students who played pivotal roles in the show’s success included live room producer Reginald Christophe, of Bridgeport; head technical director Ian Foss, of Rockland, Maine; technical directors Drew Fox, of Brookfield, and Travis Golino, of New Milford; and assistant producer Andrew Caruso, of Monroe.

“‘Election Connection’ was a team effort of more than 60 people, and the entire team deserves the honor,” Barone said. “Everyone, from the studio crew to the six teams reporting from the field, worked hard. Students in the control room worked intensely for weeks before the show and under pressure on election night to present the show. We overcame severe challenges to produce a solid live show with no breaks simultaneously over cable TV, radio and online. I love every minute of this exhausting but exhilarating project each year. It’s been very rewarding for the students who have worked on it over the years, offering great experiential learning and public service.”

Barone credited the on-camera team for exemplary professionalism under live broadcasting pressure, including student anchor Al Kessler, of Ridgefield, and studio polling numbers analyst Patrick Higgins, of Torrington. The anchor desk team also featured Danbury attorney James Bellano and Department of Communication and Media Arts faculty members Dr. D.L. Stephenson and Dr. Jacqueline Guzda.

Barone observed that Ryan and Foss put in especially long hours for many weeks to plan and prepare for the broadcast and “made significant contributions to the show’s look and success.” He also expressed pride in the quality of coverage on Election Night: “One of our biggest thrills last November was the success of our field team in getting an interview with Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty shortly after her victory in the Fifth District was announced.” Barone credited New Milford residents Josh Riddle, as reporter, and Mario Rodriguez, as camera and sound technician, for obtaining the Esty interview.

Students participated in the production as part of course work for “Live News and Election Coverage” and “Fundamentals of Radio Production.” Students under the guidance of adjunct faculty member Tom Zarecki staffed the social media hub tracking Twitter feedback during the Election Night viewing party sponsored by the WCSU National Broadcasting Society and coordinated by Billy Trotta and Jessica Ann Catena.

For more information, contact Barone at baronej@wcsu.edu or the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.

Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.


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