Faculty and students win national digital media awards at festivals
Liberty University students and faculty reaped several honors, including “Best of Festival” and “Best of Competition” awards, at the Broadcast Education Association Festival of the Media Arts in Las Vegas earlier this month. Students also received three individual awards in March at the National Religious Broadcasters Annual Convention in Nashville.
At the national BEA convention, Liberty was recognized for its faculty and student expertise and creativity, which drove a more than 27 percent enrollment increase for the university’s School of Communication & Digital Content this year. The BEA is the premiere international academic media organization, with approximately 275 academic institutional members and thousands of individual members.
Liberty’s faculty were awarded for their work on “The Encounter,” a radio drama produced at Liberty that is now in its fourth season.
Associate Professor Dr. Chris Underation won a “Best of Festival” award in the faculty audio category for “The Banishment,” an episode of “The Encounter.”
“The radio drama is a piece of work; it is solid, first to last,” Underation said. “And that is because of the other professors who are a part of this, too. It is a project that runs through different schools at different points.”
Another faculty award was given to a team consisting of Assistant Professor Kornel Gerstner, Associate Professor Christopher Nelson, composer Preeda Thaiwatcharamas, and writer Christie Osterhus. They received “Best of Competition” for “The Encounter” episode “The Origin Story: Part II.” (“The Encounter” won the same award last year.)
“It is an incredible opportunity to be recognized on the national level; it creates an unforgettable memory for everyone involved,” Gerstner said. “I’m very passionate about this project because it is a ‘real life’ experience for our students. The projects have many layers that involve a large number of students from three different disciplines — music, theater, and digital media and journalism — working together on the preproduction, production, and postproduction phase to make this an award-winning drama series. Each person has specific responsibilities with unique challenges that help them sharpen their professional skills as students and faculty work together to complete each episode.”
Four students also received BEA awards. Alexis Janeille Ferguson won second place in the Specialty Program category for her piece “I am Happy.” Brianna Marshall received an Award of Excellence in Specialty Program for “Brian’s Story.” Daniel Walters earned a third-place award in Radio Feature for “Rookies.” Caleb Califano took home an Award of Excellence in Radio Sports category for “Super Smash Bros.”
At the NRB convention, Liberty took third place in the iNRB (intercollegiate) 24-Hour CV Audio Challenge, which it won last year.
Students also received three individual awards: second place in Radio/Audio: Original Short Form Feature to Andrew Ligrani, third place in Radio Audio: News/Sports Production to Caleb Califano, and third place in Radio/Audio: News/Sports Production to Greg Mills.