WGCU-FMreporters recently won nine awards in 11 categories in the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters’ 2018 competition, for reports aired Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2017.
The individual honors follow WGCU’s recognition as Radio Station of the Year, announced by the same organization in mid-May. That award reflects excellence in overall news coverage and the newsroom’s service to the community through news and volunteerism. The station and reporters compete in a category for smaller markets; larger-market stations compete in a separate group.
At a ceremony April 14, WGCU reporters won six first-place and three second-place awards, dominating the nonprofit Florida Associated Press Broadcasters’ competition along with WUFT of Gainesville. Local winners, the award categories and titles of the broadcasts were:
- Jessica Meszaros, first place, hard news features for “After Protest, Manatee County Votes to Remove Confederate Statue”;
- Jessica Meszaros, first place, light news features for “Experience a ‘Dark Sky Park’”;
- Rachel Iacovone, second place, feature/cultural/historical for “Immokalee HS Graduation Rate is Up 5 Years in a Row”;
- Rachel Iacovone, first place, general assignment for “Gov. Scott Visits Everglades City, Still Without Power”;
- Jessica Meszaros, first place, general assignment, long format for “Everglades City Residents Still Without Temporary Housing After Hurricane Irma Storm Surge”;
- Quincy Walters, second place, continuing coverage for “City Dumps Toxic Sludge in Dunbar Neighborhood”;
- Jessica Meszaros, first place, investigative for “High Arsenic Levels on Pine Island Ignored by DEP, Lee County”;
- Julie Glenn and Matt Smith, second place, public affairs for “Trump’s Immigration Orders Hit Home in South Florida”; and
- Rachel Iacovone, first place, sports feature for “Bonita Springs YMCA Spends $300,000 on Pickleball.”
The WGCU news team had a remarkable year in many respects, perhaps most notably as Hurricane Irma bore down on Southwest Florida in September and on- and off-air staff ensured that the station remained a reliable source of local information until the storm clouds had passed.
Interim FM News Director Julie Glennrecognized the hurricane days as a time of cohesion that characterizes the WGCU staff. “Mutual respect brought out the best – not just during a time of crisis but throughout the year,” she said. “It has been beautiful seeing each person in this newsroom step up to help one another shine – it’s a work culture many strive for and few are able to achieve, so we are very lucky.”
The Associated Press is a not-for-profit news cooperative representing 1,400 newspapers and 5,000 broadcast stations in the United States. Thirty-seven broadcast organizations submitted 597 entries in the contest, which featured news, sports and weather stories.
WGCU Public Media is a member-supported service of Florida Gulf Coast University.