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  • Erica Patton

UTV Wins "Best Variety Program" at IBS Conference

By: Erica Patton


Earlier this month, UMSL’s radio broadcasting group brought home an extraordinary win at this year’s IBS awards. Founded in 1940, the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) is an organization with over 1000 non-profit radio stations and webcasts. Their awards ceremony included university broadcasts from all over the United States: UMSL being one of their champions.


While many Tritons have become a part of UTV and UMSL Radio, one of The Current’s staff writers, Aliena Abernathy helped achieve this prestigious award.


Photo by UMSL Radio


Abernathy began her experience with TV and radio in 2020, when she was hired as a production supervisor at KMOS-TV, a PBS affiliate. Here, Abernathy was a student at the University of Central Missouri and gained immense experience in video production and many other areas. Since this job was convenient due to its location, Abernathy found that she had to leave the job once she transferred out of UCM. 


In 2023, Abernathy quickly realized that her dreams of working in broadcasting were not over when she found UMSL Radio. “I saw that they had a radio station… My friend Remy Xa told me about it,” she said.


She explains that around Covid, the previously named UMSL Radio, SEMPA, fell off creating video production because people were not frequently on campus. “Around 2022-2023, Jalen Walker-Wright decided to restart the radio station and get that back up and running with Aden Adams. By the time I got here in 2023, they were talking about starting up the TV station again,” said Abernathy.


UMSL Radio has been an important part of Triton culture for decades. It continues to be not only a fun addition to campus, but an amazing way for students to gain experience in media production. UMSL Television or UTV, which started as The U News, is UMSL’s student-run television channel. They have been posting on YouTube since 2005, but slowly declined in traction up until last year when they posted a video declaring their return. 


Triton Chat-Episode 1” was the segment nominated for the Best Variety Program for the IBS Awards. The episode was the first official video posted by UTV after a year-long hiatus. In the video, UTV is seen walking around campus asking students trivia questions about UMSL for a chance to win tickets to the rock band the Black Veil Brides. 


“From there, we have just been doing some small interviews and small social media stuff. This semester, we decided we split UTV into its own club so that we could have our own funding to go on trips like the IBS conference,” said Abernathy. Because of their own funding, UTV has access to more advanced set equipment and the newly renovated TV studio in Lucas Hall.


TV Studio in Lucas Hall by Aliena Abernathy


The IBS conference, which was held in New York was an experience in itself for Abernathy and her peers. “The IBS awards are kind of an intimidating place. UMSL Radio and UTV are both fairly new organizations… with UMSL Radio being previously restarted and UTV being very newly restarted, we don’t really have the kind of tenure that the other colleges have there,” she said. 


Though the conference held a mighty reputation, Abernathy explained that the individuals there were inviting and open to discussions about what people were learning during the experience. “If you go up to someone for advice, they’ll give you advice. Because they’re fairly friendly people and they want to help,” she said. 


The size and intimidation, however, were not at the forefront of the nerves for Abernathy and her team. What made this event most nerve-wracking was the fact that the nominated video was the first-ever video from UTV.


While UTV was up for two nominations for two videos, the first video unfortunately did not win. “That kind of confirmed our fears... At least we were nominated and it is also extremely hard to get nominated, and now we’re not really expecting to win this other one but we were still hoping,” said Abernathy. 


The team’s optimism seemed to pay off when they were met with the knowledge of their success as the announcers crowned UMSL UTV for Best Variety Program. Feelings of shock and disbelief ran through Abernathy as she grasped the idea that they had just won. Here, Abernathy was nominated to accept the award. “It was an extremely exhilarating moment. It’s not the first award I’ve won for TV production but, every time it happens it's both a humbling and validating experience just to know that we did this right, we did this good and other people acknowledge that,” she said. 


In addition to the feelings of victory, Abernathy explains the pride that she and her team have a physical trophy to display in the radio studio and put this great achievement on their resumes.


"Best Variety Program" trophy by Aliena Abernathy Jalen Walker-Wright, Aliena Abernathy and Aden Adams by Aliena Abernathy


When considering the future of UMSL Radio, Abernathy says that they hope to use their recognition to get more funding for the programs and to potentially get an FM channel so that people can tune in with their car radios. She says that UMSL Radio also hopes to branch out of the studio and broadcast in The Nosh or other places in the Millennium Student Center to have students interact. 


As of now, UTV is a pending student organization that will hopefully officially become one in April. UTV is hoping to expand its team and create a monthly show that covers news-related events and feature stories at UMSL. 


You can find more information on the UMSL Radio webpage and the UTV Instagram page to show support, view their progress or even join the award-winning team.

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