Wisconsin Community Media, in conjunction with the Alliance for Community Media’s Midwest Region, recently announced its annual award winners for the 2020 Best of the Midwest Media Fest.

The Sun Prairie Media Center is happy to announce that 19 original shows created for either KSUN television or 103.5 FM The Sun Community Radio received awards at the fest.

Included in the 19 awards were two “Best in Show” winners: Producers Eric DeVries and Eric Zuniga were honored for “Best Cultural /Ethnic Program” and students from the Prairie Phoenix Academy under the supervision and guidance of Terri Simpson won the “Best Program Produced by Youth” for a short documentary on student culture at the school.

Volunteer producer Mark Gonwa was a big winner, taking home an “Excellence” award for his 103.5 FM program “Song Archaeology,” which focuses on connecting popular songs through themes.

Elsewhere Gonwa won “Achievement” awards for his program “Take Immediate Cover,” which features the best, strangest, and must-hear versions of tracks initially made famous by other artists, as well as for interviews he conducted with local musician Beth Bombara and the Incredible Hulk himself, Lou Ferrigno.

Gonwa also won “Merit” awards for his weekly dive into the blues “Bluesology,” his recording of the Wise Jennings concert held last summer to commemorate the fourth anniversary of 103.5 FM, and for his TV series “A Man, A Mouse, The Magic,” which he co-hosts with Sun Prairie School Board Vice President Tom Weber. Gonwa and Weber’s TV show is a thorough look at everything going on with the Walt Disney Company.

George Chavez won an “Achievement” award for his radio series “Making the Connections,” a project of the city’s Neighborhood Navigators program, which seeks to connect residents with local resources.

Also receiving an “Achievement” award was “Inside Your City with Aaron and Chris,” a KSUN program featuring city administrator Aaron Oppenheimer and The Star managing editor Chris Mertes. “Inside Your City” features news about Sun Prairie happenings and politics as well as interviews with local newsmakers.

Jamison Rabbitt and Mike Roth won an “Achievement” award for “Reel Reviews,” their long-running weekly look at what new films are available both at theaters and streaming at home.

Rachel Hanson, host of “Simply Fun Cooking,” won a “Merit” award for her monthly cooking show, which is produced at the Sunshine Supper. Finally, longtime SPMC volunteer Mike Powers won a “Merit” award for producing a program featuring an interview and performance with Christian musician Josh Calhoun.

Back on the radio side, Steve Sabatke won an “Achievement” award for “Council Playback,” his radio show during which he interviews the mayor and city council members on what is happening at City Hall. Tina Paulus-Krause was given an “Excellence” award for her morning radio program “Your Leadership Legacy,” which seeks to motivate and inspire early morning risers.

Finally, Sun Prairie Media Center sports coverage won three “Merit” awards: Mike Mathison, Getonn Harper, and Marc Borland were recognized for their coverage of the 2018-19 Sun Prairie Cardinal boys’ basketball team; Jamison Rabbitt, Mike Powers, Bill Baker, and Marc Borland won for their coverage of the 2019 Sun Prairie Cardinal football team, and James Wyngaard was selected for his radio coverage of the 2019 Cardinals girls’ softball and baseball teams.

SPMC director Jeff Robbins was pleased with the results.

“We have the best community media producers around,” Robbins said, “and I’m pleased that the judges of the Best of the Midwest Media Fest agree.”

Robbins said he believes there is another group that deserves some credit for the number of awards.

“Besides thanking our awesome producers, I would like to thank our Friends of Sun Prairie Media Center group,” Robbins said. “They picked up the cost for entry fees this year so producers didn’t have to spend any money to be honored for work that they are already doing for free. So kudos to our awesome Friends group!”

To be eligible for an award, a program must have been produced and/or distributed through the facilities of a community media center and premiered on a cable access channel, community radio station, or its website.

Want to be an award-winning community media producer? The SPMC is currently looking for producers to take advantage of its awesome studio facilities and excellent staff. The SPMC is especially interested in anyone looking to produce a sports talk show, local news content, or video documentaries.

Individuals interested should call 608-837-4193 or check out sunprairiemediacenter.com, where program ideas can be submitted directly to SPMC staff.

Episodes of SPMC’s award-winning programs can be accessed by going to sunprairiemediacenter.com or by downloading the new Sun Prairie Media Center app, available for free from the App Store or Google Play.

The award ceremony, originally scheduled to be held in early May in Milwaukee, has now been postponed to October due to social gathering concerns related to the spread of COVID-19. See wisconsincommunitymedia.com for more information on the Media Fest.

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