UW-River Falls journalism students attended the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Student Seminar in Middleton on February 25 where they won five statewide awards. Michelle Stangler photo. 

UW-River Falls students win five state broadcast journalism awards

Accolades showcase students’ talent, diligent effort, faculty say

Feb. 27, 2023 - University of Wisconsin-River Falls students garnered five awards, including two first-place honors, at the February 25 Wisconsin Broadcasters Association (WBA) Student Seminar in Middleton.
The annual seminar is attended by college students and broadcast journalism educators from across the state and included the presentation of this year’s Student Awards for Excellence.

“I am happy to see so many UWRF students represented among the five awards and heartened that broadcasting professionals have recognized their work,” said Andris Straumanis, journalism program director in the UWRF Communication and Media Studies Department. 

Michelle Stangler, a journalism and agricultural marketing communications major from Watertown, earned first place in the news series and documentary category for her longform radio story, “Dairy Farming Not as Simple a Life as it May Seem” that aired last summer on the student-run radio station WRFW (88.7 FM). The documentary was produced with support from the UW-River Falls Donovan E. Rasmussen Broadcast Journalism Fellowship. It is available online at
Stangler, along with fellow WRFW members Emily Marsolek and Jacob Jensen, won another first-place honor, this time in the live special category for the radio station’s October 2022 program leading up to the inauguration of Chancellor Maria Gallo. Stangler also earned second place for her radio air check, a demonstration recording that showcases an announcer’s abilities.
In addition, Stangler was one of four university students statewide who was awarded a WBA scholarship. She received the $1,500 David L. Nelson Scholarship.

Students in the UWRF Music and Stage and Screen Arts Department also won accolades. They received two awards in the special television programming category for short films produced during 2022 as part of the Advanced Field Production course.
Austin Albright, Tyler Buss, Sevki Cevik, Matthew McCarthy, Wesley Papp and Kat Peine earned second place for their production “Ghost Light,” a film about a young woman dealing with the death of her mother. “Ghost Light” may be viewed at
Third place went to students Ben Brannon, Zoe Palmer, Bradley Horwath, Cam Wallace, Irene Yoshizumu and Logan Carlson for “Consequences,” a comedy about bullying in school. “Consequences” may be viewed at

This year was the first time the Music and Stage and Screen Arts Department participated in the WBA seminar, and the fact that their two submissions were both accorded awards “was a pleasant surprise,” said Erik Johnson, associate professor of digital film. The awards and event “created a buzz” with that department’s students, Johnson said, and provided attendees with valuable networking opportunities. 

“To see how cool this was for our students, and how it benefits them … to me it makes a lot of sense to keep this going in the future,” he said. 

Since attending last year’s WBA Student Seminar, Stangler said she has been motivated to see more representation of the “small but strong (journalism) program at UW-River Falls.” She said she is honored to have received the awards and scholarship, but more importantly, she wants to continue to grow students’ involvement with media organizations like WRFW.

Stangler said she is humbled by the opportunity to depict the lives of people living in rural America. 

“My goal is to help tell the stories of people involved in agriculture, and while I am appreciative of the (awards) honor, I am more grateful for the people I have met and the trust they have within me to help tell their story,” she said. 

Straumanis praised the effort that went into students’ work, particularly that of Stangler.

“I am particularly pleased with Michelle Stangler’s first-place award for her broadcast documentary about the dairy industry. She worked hard on the project,” he said.

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