UCCS Radio wins broadcasting awards

L-R: Tristan Snook, Professor M.J. Arjomand, Caitlyn Branine and Brody Schmidt with their trophies

After – almost single-handedly – reviving UCCS Radio, Station Manager Caitlyn Branine and the program were recognized with two well-earned awards from the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) in early March.

Nominated for the Best Student Station Manager and Best Streaming/On-Line Only Radio Station, Caitlyn, along with her faculty advisor Professor M.J. Arjomandi, Sound Engineer Tristan Snook and Director of External Affairs Brody Schmidt, attended the IBS awards ceremony in New York on March 2 and snagged the win for both categories.

L-R: Tristan, Caitlyn, Brody and M.J. at the IBS Conference

This recognition comes after years of hard work and devotion to getting the station up and running again. Back in 2022, Caitlyn was interested in doing social media for the radio, but after COVID effectively shut the program down the station required much more.

“I approached the school about doing social media for the radio and they said I definitely could, but they needed a station manager first,” Caitlyn laughed. “I went and talked to my parents about it, and they said ‘well, why don’t you do it?’ ​And ​luckily, ​I ​had ​my ​dad, and he ​already ​had ​experience ​in ​radio and ​was ​able ​to ​help ​me ​rebuild ​the ​whole ​thing ​based ​on ​his ​knowledge.”

Caitlyn and her father then spent much of summer 2022 reestablishing the program, with Caitlyn learning how to run the equipment, finding shows to feature and music to play. It was an intensive process that had her tabling events on campus just to find content and other student employees.

“We ​spent ​all ​summer ​rebuilding ​it, ​and ​then ​I ​spent ​all ​of ​fall ​2022 ​​promoting, ​advertising, ​tabling ​as ​much ​as ​I ​could, ​​trying ​to ​get ​the ​word ​out ​there, all on my own,” she recalled. “​I ​remember ​going ​to at least ​ten ​events ​to table ​during ​Clyde’s ​kickoff ​and ​disorientation ​week.”

Though it took extensive time and effort, Caitlyn’s hard work brought the station back to its former glory and then some. She now has Tristan and Brody helping her run it and has incorporated several unique shows in the rotation, including one of her own called “Radio Roulette.”

“I had so many ideas that I wanted to do for my show, but I couldn’t stick down to one,” Caitlyn said. “‘Radio Roulette’ means it can be anything. Another slot of mine is recording artist interviews, where I sit down with an artist for 30 minutes or so and promote it on the station.”

Trophies for the Best Student Station Manager and Best Streaming/On-Line Only Radio Station awards

Other featured programs have included a horror segment run by Cody Parish, UCCS Student Life Program Director, where he and his partner talk about movies, books, games, podcasts and all horror-related things between. Another student runs “Normal ​Radio ​Station,” a show that focuses on something obscure or different for each session. They also had a program based on music history, with the student host making every ​episode a spotlight on ​different ​a music ​genre, ​decade or event.

Caitlyn notes that students are volunteering their time and effort, doing the research themselves, and how that makes it even more special that they love participating.

“I ​love ​seeing ​how ​happy ​the ​students ​are ​who ​come ​in ​to ​record,” she said. “​One ​of ​the ​things ​that ​we ​don’t ​have ​the ​luxury ​of, ​that ​most ​college ​radio ​stations ​do, ​is ​paying ​people. ​The ​students ​who ​do ​have ​shows are doing it entirely as ​volunteers, so ​it ​makes ​me ​so ​happy ​to ​see ​how ​much ​fun ​they’re ​having, ​how ​they ​always ​want ​to ​come ​back ​and ​keep ​doing ​it, ​and how ​they ​love ​talking ​about ​and promoting them.”

This passion, the station’s structure and its commitment to staying UCCS-centric are what Caitlyn feels sets it apart from other college radio programs. Like any station, ads are an unavoidable part of the lineup, but Caitlyn makes sure to keep their runtime to a minimum and ad content relevant to the Mountain Lion community.

“Our ads are usually only about a minute long, and it’s just one ad every 15 minutes that either promotes one of the station’s shows or is about a campus event or activity update,” she explained. “It’s a good resource for the campus and the community. It spreads the word about what’s going on on campus, and if anyone wants to promote their club or their event, they could always come and record an ad.”

Clearly these efforts have been recognized, considering the station’s recent wins in NYC. While at the conference, Caitlyn and her team all had a chance to attend informational sessions for their respective station roles.

“The conference was great because it had something for everyone on our team,” said Caitlyn. “Tristan, who is working to take over as station manager after I leave, attended all of the sessions about being a station manager. Brody attended all of the sessions about marketing and promoting your station and MJ went to the sessions on being an advisor for a radio station.”

Caitlyn with her well-deserved trophies at the IBS conference

The group also managed to fit in some sightseeing and get to know NYC a little better.

“We had so much fun on the trip,” Caitlyn said. “MJ and I toured the Audacy building in New York, which houses multiple known FM and AM radio stations in New York, and got to see all of their recording studios and even watch people in action live on the air. We saw the Book of Mormon, which is my favorite Broadway musical of all time, and Saturday night we went to dinner to celebrate winning the awards and then walked around Times Square. On Sunday, we took a tour of One World Trade Center.”

This opportunity was especially sweet for Caitlyn, considering the efforts she’s put into UCCS Radio over the years. Winning both of the awards and seeing the program thrive helps her feel at ease for when she graduates and has to leave it behind, though she has plenty of good memories and experience to take with her.

“We didn’t even think we were going to win either of the awards because we were up against some much bigger schools,” she said. “After winning, it feels like my hard work has officially paid off. I’m very excited.”

Now that Caitlyn knows the station is in good hands with Tristan, Brody and MJ, she’s preparing for graduation and what she’ll pursue beyond.

​”I’m ​interested ​in ​doing ​kind ​of ​any ​social ​media, so I haven’t thought as much about specifics, but ​I ​love ​event ​planning and entertainment so that area of social media would be fun, but I’m open to different types,” she said.

Whatever she sets her mind to, Caitlyn’s certain to achieve it, as her time as station manager has shown.

“I have the kind of mindset that anything is possible, so if I’m determined to make it happen, it’s going to happen,” she said.

About UCCS Radio

The mission of the UCCS Internet Radio Station is to provide an innovative medium for creative expression of thoughts and ideas to students, staff and faculty at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and the community at large. The UCCS Internet Radio Station seeks to provide a platform for the dissemination of information, news and entertainment to the campus and the community. We encourage and support unique, non-traditional, and diverse programming that is not found in commercial radio.