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Awards Program Recognizes Best of High School Radio

The Drury Awards honor high school radio broadcasters across the nation

High school radio stations from across the country are again being recognized as part of the John Drury High School Radio Awards.

The 2022/2023 awards were recently presented by station WONC(FM), a station run by North Central College in Naperville, Ill., that has been broadcasting in the Chicago area for more than 50 years. The awards were created in 2003 to recognize excellence in high school radio broadcasting, and named in honor of Chicago news anchor and investigating reporter John Drury. 

This year, more stations participated from more states than ever — 12 states in all — said Zack DeWitz, general manager of WONC and coordinator of the program. The awards covered 18 categories, from broadcaster of the year to best specialty music show, and included first-, second- and third-place categories.

“Every year [that this awards program] continues is a testament to the success and the value of radio at the high school level. And that fills me with so much joy,” DeWitz said. “The experience you’re getting in high school is vital. Not just to those of you who want a future in radio or another media. The practice you’re getting as public speakers and communicators will give you an advantage over other people who aren’t getting this experience.”

The awards recognize the expanding scope of radio platforms, with nominations submitted for best website, best use of social media and best podcast. Other awards include best promo, best sports talk program and best talk show. 

Audio clips submitted by high school stations illustrated a breadth of ideas and talent, such as the clip from St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School’s WMTN(FM), which won for its podcast on conspiracy theories. The award for best public safety announcement was a no-vaping advertisement, written by students at New Trier High School for station WNTH(FM), while the award for best station promo was given to Baton Rouge Magnet High School’s WBRH(FM) for a 30-second review of the station’s eclectic music offerings. 

Some schools received multiple awards including WWPT(FM), broadcast at Staples High School, which received awards for best DJ, best news feature story, best newscast, best specialty music show, best sports play-by-play, best radio drama, best non-sports talk show, as well as best radio station advisor and broadcaster of the year.

During the awards ceremony, several alumni spoke about the advantages they gained from working for a noncommercial educational radio station in their formative years.

“Even if you don’t end up coming away with an award today, congratulations: you guys are getting some great recognition,” said WONC alumni Tim Calderwood, who is sports announcer for the Schaumburg Boomers baseball team, during the ceremony. “You’re doing a lot of great things.” 

Nominations for the 2023/2024 awards will be accepted beginning April 1, 2024. A list of the 2022/23 winners, including a series of audio clips and a video of the awards program itself, can be found here

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