La Verne graduates receive honors from BEA

Raylene Lopez
Staff Writer

Three University of La Verne graduates have been awarded for their work in the Broadcast Education Association’s Festival of Media Arts.

Dan Jerz, Christopher Norman and William Hernandez, who all graduated in 2019, won awards in the Student Audio Category for work they did as students at the University of La Verne.

The BEA Festival of Media Arts had 1,700 entries.

Jerz and Norman placed first place in the Comedy or Drama category for their sci-fi radio drama “The Intergalactic Voyage of Dan Rogers.”

Jerz wrote the script for the film and voiced the main character Dan Rogers.

The radio drama follows the adventures of Rogers, who finds that he is only human stuck aboard a spaceship.

Rogers’ only companion is a witty A.I. computer as they not only battles aliens but their own insanity as boredom takes over.

Jerz said the award came as a surprise just out of left field.

“I worked on this project basically a year ago now and suddenly it’s getting new life into it,” said Jerz.

Jerz worked with Norman, who edited the show and was in charge of audio.

While some sounds were taken from a sound bank, Norman created the majority of audio effects for the show.

This consisted of Norman recording himself doing activities such as walking around the booth or using tools.

“Personally I feel like I would lose myself in that world, it’s like that was always my favorite part realizing wow this is something that I kind of just read off from a script,” Norman said.

While they all worked hard to achieve this, they all acknowledged Mike Laponis, professor of communications and general manager for LeoFM Radio, for his guidance on their projects and pushing them to improve on their skills.

Laponis said the best part of being a professor is seeing his students succeed and while he is proud that his guidance helped the alumni win their awards he said they are the ones who did the real heavy lifting.

“They’re the ones that had to put in the effort and the time and the dedication and have the passion for it,” Laponis said. “I just sort of steer and suggest and cheer on a little bit.”

Hernandez was given the Award of Excellence in the Specialty of Show category for his pre-produced show “Wilskeezy’s Hip-Hop Era.”

Being a big hip-hop fan, Hernandez had a long list of influencers but finding an old iPod from when he was in high school helped him narrow down the list.

The show featured hip-hop artists like Kanye West, Drake, and Lil Wayne, background on the artist, Hernandez’s opinions, interviews with fans, and Hernandez’s favorite songs from the featured artists.

“I remembered all the memories I had specifically getting the music, listening to it, plugging an aux into it and bumping it in the car,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said the project became more than an assignment to him.

“I felt the enjoyment of it like immediately. I get to work with something that I love,” said Norman.

The graduates will be awarded in April at the BEA convention in Vegas.

Raylene Lopez can be reached at

Raylene Lopez

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