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Broadcasting students to compete against the best in the nation

Six Pittsburg State University students have been selected as finalists in the College Broadcasters, Inc., national broadcasting competition.

Six Pittsburg State University students have been selected as finalists in the College Broadcasters, Inc., national broadcasting competition.

Brandon Sutterfield, a senior from Spring Hill, Kan.; Sydney Ward, a senior from Carl Junction, Mo.; and Adrien Stolifer, a graduate student from Windom, Kan.; Katie Swatek, a graduate student from Wagner, S.D.; Claudia Alessi, a freshman from Brazil; and Ron Pettibon, a graduate student from Nevada, Mo., are among four finalists in the categories of “Best Public Service Announcement,” “Best News Reporting” and “Best Documentary/Public Affairs Program.”

This isn’t the first time Pittsburg State broadcasting students have competed at a national level, but it is the first time the university has had so many students recognized for their work.

“It’s an incredible achievement for our students, and I couldn’t be more proud,” said Troy Comeau, director of broadcasting. “We work diligently to provide a well-rounded curriculum that combines classroom theory with hands-on experience. We think this type of program allows our students to shine and the results really speak for themselves.”

The productions of the three finalists are as unique as the students themselves. Topics included sustainability, nursing simulators and the Westboro Baptist Church.

Communication major Brandon Sutterfield, who’s a finalist in the “Best Public Service Announcement” category, said the national recognition is a nice reward for the hard work he’s put into his studies.

“It’s great to be recognized and I think it will help me in the future,” said Sutterfield. “Dr. Comeau is a great professor and really pushes us to try new things. I don’t think I would have gotten as many opportunities to get hands-on experience at another school, so I’m really glad I chose Pitt State.”

Communication major Sydney Ward, who’s a finalist in the Best News Reporting category, said her experience in PSU’s broadcast program has helped prepare her for life after graduation.

“I never thought my news story would get so far in competition, she said. “It’s exciting because it reaffirms what I’ve learned at Pitt State. I’ve learned the importance of a telling a compelling story and of making every production your very best. I’m looking forward to the conference.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the university has four finalists in the category of “Best Documentary/Public Affairs Program.” The entry, which was produced by Adrien Stolifer, Katie Swatek, Clauida Alessi and Ron Pettibon, was originally part of a visual ethnography project, but once the students realized the quality of their work, they wanted to see how it would fare in a national competition.

“We’re really proud of this piece,” explained Adrien Stolifer. “Once we saw the reception it got in class, we decided to enter it into the Kansas Association of Broadcasters’ competition and it won first place. It’s almost mind-blowing to see it as a finalist on the national level.”

Competition winners will be announced during the National Student Electronic Media Convention Oct. 25-27 in Atlanta, Ga.

A full listing of categories and finalists can be found at the College Broadcasters Incorporated website,

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