Student wins two radio awards


Contributed by Doug Westerman

“KQAL is a place where my major and my love of performance cross.” Bermudez said.

Reanne Weil, News Editor

Eric Sevareid was an American author and CBS news journalist from 1939-1977 who was one of a group of elite war correspondents who were hired by CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow. For his accomplishments in the business, The Eric Sevareid Awards were created and named for him. Each year, the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association presents these awards to the best work done by broadcast news operations and journalists working in small, medium and large markets in a six-state region on radio, television and online.

There are multiple categories for the awards which include Student Market Radio, Student Market Television, Small Market Television, Medium Market Radio and Medium Market Television. Many different universities from six states in and around the Midwest were nominated for these awards, yet one university stood out to the panel of judges: Winona State University.

Specifically, what stood out was the work of third-year student Jiovani Bermudez. Bermudez works at KQAL, Winona State’s radio station, as a production assistant and radio host. He also runs a music shift on Fridays from 9-12 p.m. and creates a podcast for the student newspaper, The Winonan.

Bermudez was entered into the Student Market Radio category and took first and second place out of the three possible awards that were given out. Bill Stoneberg, producer at KQAL, spoke on the types of awards Bermudez received.

“We produce five shows a week, four of which I mentor the students in producing,” Stoneberg said. “Jiovani won for a Culture Clique called ‘Growing Up in a Cult’ and an Art Beat called ‘Last of the Better Days Ahead: Charlie Parr Book Reading’.”

Bermudez mentioned that those were the first two shows he created at the station since starting as an intern in the fall of 2022.

“At the end of that internship, the end of that semester, Bill [Stoneberg] and Doug [Westerman] told me about the competition,” Bermudez said. “I said my best one to submit was the cult story because it was a conversation where someone was sharing their story.”

Bermudez’s love for radio stemmed from his previous work as a features writer for The Winonan and his decision to be a mass communication: creative digital media major and film studies minor.

“I love performing on stage,” Bermudez said. “KQAL is a place where my major and my love of performance cross.”

Stoneberg explained the submission process and how the final edits were due and completed in January of 2023 for the work from 2022.

“Every year I submit my work, and I try to submit work from both of my production assistants,” Stoneberg said. “Usually everyone gets to submit at least once during their college career if they’re working for us, but we submitted two for him [Bermudez] in the same category and he won both of them.”

Bermudez said he was completely surprised when he found out he won for both shows.

“I remember I was sitting down, and I wasn’t really sure how to respond,” Bermudez said. “But of course, I wouldn’t have done it without the training and the advice that I got from Bill and Doug from these shows, so I wouldn’t necessarily say it was all mine.”

In order to create the content needed for radio shows, students must go out into the community and research what people of the town want to hear about. Stoneberg said that over time, that has become second nature to Bermudez.

“I think he could call the owners at No Name friends by now,” Stoneberg said. “In fact, the last one he did was a storytelling event they did down there, and the last story of the show was him. He got up on stage an did a story impromptu.”

When editing the shows together, Bermudez claimed that it takes him some time to edit out longer pauses, breaks and occasional “Um’s” that people say in interviews. However, he leaves a few in there to make it more natural.

“You don’t want it to seem like it’s robotic or perfect,” Bermudez said. “Because if it’s perfect, it’s not human, it’s not the individual.”

Stoneberg spoke highly on Bermudez’s character qualities not only as his assistant, but as a person.

“He has a real good passion for this type of work,” Stoneberg said. “He’s got some real good motivation and ambition and he excels at it because of that.”

Doug Westerman, a professor in the Mass Communication Department at Winona State and KQAL General Manager, claimed that Bermudez’s passion for this type of work is a breath of fresh air.

“He’s a unique talent for someone his age and his ability,” Westerman said. “His passion for storytelling is like nothing I’ve seen in my 12 years at the station.”

Bermudez reflected on his love for the job and even advertised himself a little.

“This job gives me the same thrill of being a reporter, just in a different manner,” Bermudez said. “I encourage people to tune into 89.5 FM, and if you hear my voice, you know it’s going to be good!”