OSWEGO — Even as multiple Laker teams made the NCAA tournament this year, the teamwork of SUNY Oswego’s student media organizations may have reached all-star levels as well.
This year saw increased collaboration between WTOP-10 TV, WNYO 88.9 FM and The Oswegonian newspaper, ranging from working together on a weekly “Laker Connections” TV show to teaming up for three hockey broadcasts over eight days during winter break.
For the notable January collaborations, two sports directors — senior broadcasting majors Brittany Cairns for WTOP and Cole Parzych for WNYO — started talking early and found “there’s no reason we can’t collaborate,” Cairns recalled. “We have the crew to do the video and they certainly have the talent for the announcers.” That they have known each other through classes for a couple of years helped, and the partnership ties in with media organizations often seeing themselves more as collaborators than competitors in their sports coverage.
“It was a great collaboration that worked for everybody,” from the student broadcasters to the college’s far-flung fan base, Parzych said.
“It was really cool to see the collaboration all coming together,” said sophomore journalism major Ben Grieco, the sports editor for The Oswegonian, who served as an announcer on the joint broadcasts.
With men’s basketball and men’s hockey teams both making NCAA tournaments this season, student broadcasters were able to rise to the occasion to produce official tournament broadcasts that even earned praise from rival schools.
“It was good to see such positive feedback even from fans from other colleges,” said Melissa Wilson, the general manager of WTOP, who earned her bachelor’s degree from Oswego and is now a master’s in strategic communication student. “Given all the work our students put in, it’s wonderful to see them receive the respect they deserve.”
Media pioneer, investor, advisor and 1977 graduate Louis A. Borrelli Jr., who coined the term “Pros with GPAs” to describe Oswego’s student media teams, has long been impressed with their product and was particularly thrilled to see their increased collaboration.
“The fact is our graduates have to know how to do everything,” Borrelli said. “As incoming students, they have the ability to get involved in anything and everything, and it’s something the school encourages. The skillsets in all three operations are essential for what they’ll need when they get out of school.”
The three sports directors all work together on the weekly WTOP show “Laker Connections,” which airs Tuesday night and further solidifies the emphasis on the student media organizations working together. “It’s cool to work with them both at the same time,” Grieco said. “Even when we’re on the set, we can share ideas with each other.”
Some Oswego students work in all three organizations; Parzych was the editor-in-chief of The Oswegonian last year, where Grieco was able to learn from him and now appreciates him as a colleague.
Hockey games sometimes mean multitasking for the busy sports reporters. “I’ve done radio broadcasts, then rushed down to Coach (Ed) Gosek’s office to talk to him” for an Oswegonian story, Grieco recalled.
While still producing a weekly print product, the organization remains engaged with sports in the digital space with real-time social media coverage and follow-up stories to complement the work of the other organizations. “The Oswegonian’s contributions this year have been so good,” WTOP’s Wilson noted.
‘Really good work’
The opportunity for hands-on experience as soon as students start at Oswego means they can learn and grow in multiple organizations.
“I think that’s the best thing about this campus, that there are more than 200 clubs and all the things you can do,” Parzych said. “You get the freedom to be students, but also do some really good work as well.”
Grieco agreed. “We get to do professional-level work,” he said. “That’s a real positive of coming to Oswego. I think this collaboration means we’re always trying to raise the bar.”
Students in media organizations “are able to meet other students and gain experience in the field,” Wilson said. “You can take this collaboration on a college campus and take it into the workforce.”
The design of the Marano Campus Center intentionally housed the student media organizations in close proximity when that part of the building opened in 2007, presaging the eventual increased collaboration.
“Our college is a great place for someone who wants to be in media to get involved from the very start and learn what they can do,” Borrelli noted. “You can’t do that other places. It’s laid a good foundation.”
In addition to the connections the personnel have developed, the emergence of digital and social media — with its avenues for live coverage and the quicker news cycle — has been one factor that has worked in favor of more interaction, Grieco noted.
The teamwork and creativity also means more ambitious projects: For WTOP — whose hockey pregame shows recently earned the Best Specialty Programming honor from the New York State Broadcasters Association — the season also included the first TV road broadcast in years, assembling and sending a crew for the Feb. 15 game at Plattsburgh.
“It was a new arena for us, so it showed we can go anywhere and do the job,” Cairns said. “We got up at 5 a.m., left at 6 and got back around 5 the next morning so it was like a 24-hour experience for us. But looking back now, it was one of my best college experiences.”
The three sports directors continue teaming up for their Tuesday night sports show this semester, and WTOP and WNYO have sometimes continued to have collaborative broadcasts during the spring sports season.
For the media organizations, creating future opportunities for students remains a goal.
“If this is what we were able to do in our first year working together so much, think about what we could do five years down the road with new technology,” Cairns said.