Tag Archives: WWPT-FM

WWPT Rocks National Radio Awards

You don’t have to be a Staples student to love WWPT.

Plenty of folks in Fairfield County with no connection to the high school tune into the station — 90.3 FM — for news, sports, music, even dramatic readings.

It was one of the first high school radio stations in the country.

Now the John Drury High School Radio Awards confirm: It’s also the best.

For the 2nd year in a row.

Yesterday at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, “Wrecker Radio” walked off with the top prize: Best High School Radio Station.

But that’s not all.

Individual staff members won for:

  • Best News Feature Story (November 11, 2018: Jack Gersh, Cameron Manna)
  • Best Sports Play-by-Play (Basketball final, Trumbull vs. Darien: Greg Settos, Jake Gersh)
  • Best Sportstalk Program (Open Season – 2.o “The Return”: Jake Thaw, Nick, Kornfeld
  • Best Sportscast (A Sports Update: Greg Settos)
  • Best PSA (Don’t Text and Drive: Ben Gross)

The entire station also won Best Radio Drama – Adaptation for “A Christmas Carol – Act 1 of 2.”

WWPT-FM members who attended yesterday’s national awards ceremony in Illinois (from left): Brad Cox, Greg Settos, Reilly Caldwell, Jake Gersh, Cameron Manna and adviser Geno Heiter. (Photo/Jack Caldwell)

Those were not the only nominees from Staples. Others included Greg Settos for Best Newscast; Brad Cox for Best News Feature Story; Reilly Caldwell and Settos for Best Promo; Seettos and Lefty Penderakis, Jack Borowsky and Mark Didio, and Jake Gersh and Cameron Manna, Best Sportstalk Program (3 separate nominations); Art Shapiro and Settos, and Brad Cox, Best Sports Play-by-Play (2 separate nominations); Ethan Frank, plus Cox, Zach Iannacone, Will Rosenthal, Tim Luciano for Best Public Affairs Program (2 separate nominations); Jake Gersh and Isabella Siskind (Best PSA, 2 separate nominations); Gersh, Siskind, Dylan Mace, Dan Chu, Oscar Hachter, Jack Noble, Ben Howard and Matt Hirschler (Best Radio Drama – Original).

Congratulations to all, and of course adviser Geno Heiter.

Now set your radio to 90.3 FM!

(Hat tip: Jack Caldwell)

Jack Caldwell Covers The Super Bowl

WWPT-FM — Staples High School’s award-winning radio station — produces great sports broadcasters as regularly as the New England Patriots used to win Super Bowls.

Jack Caldwell is the latest in that long and storied line. He’s smooth and steady. He prepares well. He knows his stuff. He’s good.

In addition to play-by-play, he does music and news. This year’s, he’s WWPT’s executive director. In his spare time, he’s broadcast director for the student newspaper Inklings.

His sports cred comes naturally. He comes from a long line of baseball fans. His grandmother told stories of listening to Vin Scully call Brooklyn Dodgers games; together, Jack and she discussed their favorite (and least favorite) announcers.

His father Chris is in sports marketing. He’s worked at every Super Bowl since XXXIV (that was in 2000, for you non-sports fans). So Jack and his dad have never had a chance to watch the big game together.

This year — as an early graduation present — Chris took Jack to Minnesota. He tried to get 2 tickets, but wasn’t sure if he could. They decided they’d watch Super Bowl LII together — even if that meant doing it at the hotel.

Sunday morning, Jack’s dad surprised him with 2 tickets.

Jack Caldwell and his dad at the Super Bowl.

Before the game on Sunday morning, Jack attended an event with broadcast personalities Trey Wingo, Tony Romo and Cris Carter. After, he chatted with them. When he said he was an aspiring broadcaster, Romo and Carter posed for this photo with him.

You’ll notice Jack’s wearing his WWPT logowear. Fans were allowed to do “mock” broadcasts on a set at US Bank Stadium. This was Jack’s first broadcast ever with his father.

I’m not a betting guy, but I bet Jack’s broadcast was better than any other fan who stepped into that booth.

It was a working weekend for Jack. He watched and learned as much as he could.

WNBC reporter Bruce Beck — an avid WWPT-FM supporter and mentor — allowed Jack to shadow him as he worked.

On Saturday — despite 6 inches of snow — he explored many media sites, and visited the ESPN set. The Lombardi Trophy was there. Well, an ice sculpture replica of it, anyway.

As for the game: Jack’s a Jets fan; his dad likes the Lions. Going in, they were “reluctantly” rooting for the Eagles. But when the training scene from “Rocky II” was shown as Philadelphia’s hype video, they were won over for the night.

It was a fantastic weekend. There’s nothing like sharing the Super Bowl with your dad.

Especially when you can take a photo like this, moments after the final whistle.

BONUS STORY ON JACK CALDWELLAs a sophomore, knee surgery forced Jack into a wheelchair for 6  months.

His favorite sport to call is ice hockey. When the Wreckers made the state semifinals — at the “Yale Whale” arena — he worried he could not get to the press box.

WWPT friends and family helped him up, then helped him set up equipment. He called the game — an overtime Staples win.

That support meant a lot to Jack. It meant even more when that broadcast earned him a 2nd-place award in the national John Drury radio competition.

Last year, Jack and the station won honors in every Drury category they entered.

WWPT-FM faculty advisor Geno Heiter (left) and student broadcasters jump for joy after earning 12 John Drury Awards.

The Super Bowl — seeing media row and shadowing Bruce Beck — was a fantastic experience. Jack learned a lot about “real world media,” and looks forward to sharing that knowledge with everyone involved in media at Staples.

For his senior internship at May, he’ll work on the “Anna & Raven Show” on Star 99.9 FM. He hopes to study broadcast journalism in college (he will hear from schools in March).

After that — well, like other WWPT sportscasters, the sky’s the limit.

The Super Bowl was an important weekend, Jack says.

“I got to have a real fan experience,” he notes. “So if I begin to cover events for real in broadcasting, now they won’t seem as daunting.”

Two Christmas Carols

Staples High School’s Candlelight Concert is the music department’s gift to the town.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

On Friday night, Steve Ruchefsky and Rondi Charleston threw their annual holiday party, at their beautiful Myrtle Avenue home.

Like many gatherings around Westport, it was a warm, wonderful way to catch up with friends of all ages.

But Steve and Rondi’s party was extra-special. Their daughter Emma — now a student at Berklee College of Music — joined with fellow former Orphenians for a few Christmas songs.

No offense to any other party with carol singers, but — well, take a listen:

 

Thanks to Emma Ruchefsky, Joe Badion, Bailey Claffey, Ian Goodman, Nick Massoud, Nick Ribolla and Sarah Quagliarello for reminding us all why music may be the greatest gift of all.

SPECIAL HOLIDAY BONUS: Last week, Staples’ Audio Production and Theater 3 classes combined to produce a live radio broadcast of “A Christmas Carol.”

It includes all the voices from Charles Dickens’ classic — plus music, clever sound effects, even old-time radio ads for products like Pepsodent.

If you missed it on WWPT-FM, just click here. Instructors Geno Heiter and David Roth, and dozens of students, offer a perfect soundtrack to your holiday.

And so — in the immortal words of Tiny Tim — “A Merry Christmas to us all!”

A Host Of Reasons To Help ABC

Alert — and proud — “06880” reader Michael Wolfe writes:

On a recent weekend in suburban Chicago, I shrugged off beautiful spring weather to sit in a dark auditorium with other proud Westport parents and their kids. We watched as over a dozen Staples students received prestigious John Drury High School Radio Awards.

Jarod Ferguson with one of his John Drury awards.

As each student collected their honor, we heard extra-enthusiastic cheers from the mom or dad in attendance. So when Jarod won not 1 but 2 awards, I gave him the loudest acknowledgment I could.

But there was one major difference between me and the rest of the Westport parents that day: Jarod isn’t my son. In fact, I’ve known him less than 3 years.

Yet that morning I felt as excited for him as I would have for my own 2 kids.

In a way, that’s what he’s become.

Jarod Ferguson, born and raised in Philadelphia,  is one of 7 boys from around the country living in Westport through the great local chapter of an incredible national program.

A Better Chance Of Westport was founded 15 years ago to provide academically gifted, highly motivated and economically disadvantaged young men of color (African-American, Latino, Asian-American and Native American) the opportunity to live in our community, and study at Staples.

In fact, one of Jarod’s Drury Radio Awards was for a broadcast about leaving his home and coming to Westport as an ABC Scholar.

ABC’s Glendarcy House on North Avenue. Scholars spend some weekends with host families.

Imagine this: A 9th grade boy leaves his own family and friends behind, moves to Westport to live in a home with several other boys, and is supervised closely by resident directors who live with them and help keep them on the path to success.

They are given educational opportunities they would not otherwise receive — but must give up the daily connection to family that so many of us take for granted.

That’s why the host family program is so important.

Upon entering ABC of Westport, each scholar is assigned a host family (and a 2nd alternate family). Each Sunday during the school year — and once a month, for an entire weekend — the scholar spends the day with members of the host family (usually, but not always, including other children). That family’s role is to provide comfort and support outside of the ABC house, and a connection to the kind of family life the boys have left behind in their hometowns.

Each Sunday morning at 9, we pick Jarod up at the ABC house. He comes to our home, and joins our family. We are not his babysitters, nor do we provide entertainment.

Instead, like we do for our own 2 kids — also Staples juniors — we provide encouragement, attention and support for Jarod’s activities and interests.

Jarod with the Wolfe family, and his mother Angela.

We offer a bit of guidance from time to time (which, as with our own teenagers, is often met with an appropriate level of eye-rolling).

We give Jarod enough space to explore his own needs and feel like a regular kid. Then, on Sunday nights at 6 when we sit down for our family dinner, Jarod takes his place at the table. He’s one of our own.

We had encouraged Jarod to explore opportunities at WWPT. It seemed like a natural for a sports nut like Jarod. It took him a while to find his way there, but his recent awards sparked a real passion. He hopes to continue with the station next year, and perhaps pursue a career in sports journalism.

It’s been less than 3 years since we began hosting Jarod. They’ve flown by.

The shy and unassuming child has grown into a more confident and outspoken young man. I hope our presence in his life has had something to do with that.

But honestly, hosting him has given back to us as much as we may have given him.  My own kids have a better understanding of the world outside the Westport bubble that they’ve grown up in. They have learned the importance of giving back, and have made a friend I hope can last beyond their years here.

And my wife and I have been graciously allowed by Jarod’s mother to share in his life and achievements. We’re not quite his parents, but we feel a stake nonetheless.

All of this comes from letting an eager and humble student join us for part of our weekend. Not a bad trade-off at all.

ABC of Westport is always looking for families interested in hosting a scholar like Jarod. I encourage everyone to learn more. For more information, email abchostfamilies@gmail.com.

It’s an experience you and your family will never forget.

Pic Of The Day #48

This trompe l’oeil mural stands in the Staples High School hall, outside the WWPT and TV studios. It was painted by students in the mural class. (Photo copyright Lynn U. Miller)

Radio And Robotics Raves

There are 12 categories in the John Drury High School Radio Awards.

Staples’ WWPT-FM was nominated in 7 of them — sometimes more than once.

Yesterday — at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois — they won 1st place in every category they were nominated for. The teenagers (and advisor Geno Heiter) snagged a total of 12 awards, in news, sports and public affairs.

Including the big one: Best High School Station in the Country.

The winners! WWPT-FM faculty advisor Geno Heiter is in shades and a beard, at right.

Congratulations to these Staples students — the next generation of radio stars:

1st Place
Best Newscast:
Cooper Boardman, Channing Smith (“WWPT News Update”)
Best Public Affairs Program: Jackson Valente, Jarod Ferguson (“A Better Chance ‘Social Justice’)
Best Radio Drama Adaptation: Staples Players and Audio Production classes, with support from WWPT (“Dracula”)
Best Sports Play-by-Play:  Cooper Boardman, Jack Caldwell (Football — Staples vs. Darien)
Best Sportscast: Buster Scher (“Knicks — Past 2 Seasons”)
Best Sportstalk Program:  Cooper Boardman and Jack Caldwell (Staples Field Hockey State Championship Show)
Best High School Station: WWPT-FM

2nd Place
Best Sports Play-by-Play:  Cooper Boardman (Basketball — Staples vs. Danbury)
Best Sportstalk Program:  Jack Caldwell (Interview with NHL announcer Chuck Kaiton)
Best Sportscast:  Luck McManus, Hunter Duffy (NASCAR championship interview)

3rd Place
Best Newscast: Zachary Halperin, Nieve Mahoney, Jack Moses (Politics — Election Reflection)
Best Sportscast:  George Goldstein, Sam Zaritsky (Fulmer Trade)

WWPT-FM faculty advisor Geno Heiter (left) and student broadcasters jump for joy after earning 12 John Drury Awards.

Also yesterday, Staples sophomores Nick Durkin, John McNab and Daniel Westphal, and freshman Nathan Wang won 5 awards — including 1st Place Overall — in the Marine Advanced Technology Education Center’s New England competition, in Sandwich, Massachusetts.

The quartet — competing as Team Curriodyssea, which is not affiliated with the high school — designed, built and programmed underwater remotely operated vehicles.

Team Curiodyssea members (from left) Daniel Westphal, Nathan Wang, John McNab and Nick Durkin.

Team Curriodyssea also won golds for Engineering Evaluation, Highest Score on the Underwater Challenges, Technical Report and Poster Display.

They advance to the international competition next month in Long Beach, California, where they’ll face 27 other teams from North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Sounds like a great story for WWPT!

And The Winners Are…

Cooper Boardman and Jack Caldwell have made a career out of broadcasting Staples High School sports on WWPT-FM, and the Staples Television Network.

They’ve called plenty of big wins, and a few heartbreaking defeats.

Yesterday, the 2 student announcers got a few victories of their own.

Cooper and Jack — who serve as co-directors of sports — were finalists in an eye-popping 14 IBS National Broadcast Awards categories.

In a ceremony held at New York’s Hotel Pennsylvania, they won 3: Best Play-by-Play Football (Jack and Cooper); Best Play-by-Play Basketball (Cooper); Best Use of YouTube (Cooper).

Cooper Boardman (left) and Jack Caldwell, with their 14 trophies.

Cooper Boardman (left) and Jack Caldwell, with their 14 trophies.

IBS stands for Intercollegiate Broadcasting System. It’s been around for 77 years. With the growth of high school radio — pioneered by, among others, Staples — the organization recognizes younger announcers too.

Cooper — a senior — will attend Syracuse University’s prestigious Newhouse School of Public Communications. Jack is just a junior. After one more year of calling Wrecker games, he’ll head off to college for broadcast journalism too.

Unlike last week’s Oscars, these awards won’t be taken back. But like many WWPT stars before them, Cooper Boardman and Jack Caldwell are already on the road to radio success.

Click here for an audio link to Cooper and Jack’s winning football broadcast. Click here for a link to Cooper’s You Tube channel. Below is one sample of his work.

(Hat tip: Jim Honeycutt)

It’s A Wonderful Life, Indeed!

Take out your earbuds. Move over, Spotify. You’re so old school, iTunes.

Staples students are embracing a cutting-edge new technology: radio.

But not just any radio: a 1940s-style radio drama.

WWPT_logoTomorrow (Thursday, December 22, 1 p..m.), Geno Heiter’s Audio Production class and David Roth’s Theater 3 Acting class collaborate on a radio broadcast of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

They’ll use the original 1946 script — including Lux toilet soap advertisements from that long-ago time.

Similar WWPT-FM productions have won top awards in the John Drury national high school radio competition. Check it out:

It’s a phenomenal event — and a great undertaking. High school students incorporate live drama skills, sound effects and radio production into an entertaining, uplifting performance.

You can hear it locally on 90.3 FM, or by clicking here for the livestream.

It is indeed a wonderful life!

PS: The 2016 Candlelight Concert is also available on WWPT-FM (and via livestream). It’s broadcast at random times — so keep listening!

Let’s Go Wreckers!

The only thing more important than sleep to Westport teenagers on a Saturday morning is supporting their ice hockey team in the state finals.

Here’s the scene at 8 a.m. today, at the train station:

Staples fans headed to hockey finals

By train, fan bus and car, a large contingent is heading to Yale’s Ingalls Rink, for the 10 a.m. Division III championship match.

Can’t make the game? Tune in to WWPT-FM 90.3 — or click here for the livestream, anywhere in the world.

More Candlelight News: Video On YouTube, Concerts Livestreamed

If you can’t get enough of Staples High School’s Candlelight Concerts — and if you don’t mind one more “06880” post about them — read on:

You can watch last weekend’s 75th anniversary broadcast 2015 by clicking here. The student-run telecast was led by Justin Schwebel and Cooper Boardman.

Meanwhile, WWPT-FM will air 20 Candlelight Concert CDs — plus 2 old-time, student-produced radio dramas  (“It’s A Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Carol”) from now through New Years. If you’re in the area, tune in to 90.3. If you’re anywhere else on the planet, click here for the live stream.

Candlelight: The gift to the town that keeps on giving.

(Special thanks to Jim Honeycutt, Staples’ Media Lab teacher who makes all this amazing stuff happen.)

A collage of Candlelight Concert album and CD covers, through the ages.

A collage of Candlelight Concert album and CD covers, through the ages.