Founded in 1981, WZND has been a large part of Illinois State University’s (ISU) history. There are opportunities for students to get involved within the organization. During a typical semester, WZND hosts around 120 student interns and gives many opportunities to those students to learn and grow in particular ways that suit their lives’ ambitions. From on-air experience to behind-the-scenes work, WZND ensures that students will feel prepared and knowledgeable upon graduation.
“We give students the opportunity to learn and make mistakes here, so they don’t do them out in the real world,” said faculty advisor Steve Suess, who also is the director of convergent radio broadcasting for the school.
Despite the obvious challenges that a campus radio station would face with the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, WZND continues to shine with its dedicated students and faculty.
“WZND is one of the greatest student-run radio programs in the entire world, and that’s not just me saying that. We are winning awards every single year,” said Suess. “In fact, the Broadcast Radio Association rated our radio program as the 2018 Radio National Signature Station. It is a great place to be. There are times that we win awards over professional radio stations in the country. We do an excellent job educating students, but also with sending out a professional product.”
This great record of performance rings true today because WZND continues to be award winning. The College Broadcasters, Inc. (CBI) is a member-driven organization serving students and advisers of college and high school electronic media outlets. Through events, programs and a network of expertise, CBI provides its members with educational and professional opportunities and facilitate advocacy. WZND was highlighted in three different categories in the 2020 National Student Production Awards.
“CBI’s awards are national-level awards,” said Suess. “Most universities are lucky to even get one or two nominations, and this is our fifth year in a row getting three or more awards.”
Cosette Nowik, senior history education major, received fourth place in the nation in the “Best DJ” category. Nowik’s show, “Cosette Nowik Air-Check,” can be listened to on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and Saturdays at 1 p.m.
“Having an opportunity to discover what I’m passionate about, as well as continuously learn at WZND has been incredible—to say the least! I have had countless mentors throughout my time here,” said Nowik. “They have provided input, constructive critiques, and continuous support. In addition, my growth as a DJ, as well as a leader, has given me the confidence I never knew I had. It has allowed me to experience a metamorphosis unlike anything I’ve experienced before, and I’m very grateful.”
Other awards that WZND received was for the “Best Newscast” in which it received third place with its entry “Snow Day” and for “Best Station Imaging” in which WZND received first place with its entry “WZND Imaging Demo.” As one can imagine, this has been a large boost in morale for the station, especially since the station is not functioning as it would without the pandemic.
“Being recognized for our talents and strengths makes us work even harder,” said WZND director of music and journalism major Dani Burgrabe. “It is an honor to be recognized and awarded for the work we put into WZND. We were all extremely excited to even be nominated for any award.”
Despite the challenges that the University has face from the pandemic, WZND continues to educate and provide experience for all of its students. It is an amazing place within the School of Communication that allows students to express their creativity and share it with the world, beginning at least with the Bloomington-Normal area.