Gannon University’s student-managed radio station, 90.5 WERG, has hit a wealth of success at the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) Abraham and Borst Awards earlier this month. WERG won “Best College Station in the Nation,” and a slew of other awards as well, including “Best Use of Social Media” and “Most Creative Promotional Event.” I talked with Chet LaPrice, Operations Manager of 90.5 WERG, and learn a little more about him and the radio station’s recent triumphs.

1. LaPrice is a graduate of Gannon University and began working at 90.5 as a first-year student.

“I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in electronic media communications arts in 1992, and I earned my Master of Business Administration in 2011.” Not only did Chet attend Gannon for both degrees, but he also started his work with WERG as a freshman. “When I was a freshman, within three weeks I had a tour of the radio station, [and] I had a shift. It’s a wonderful thing to come to Gannon University and be able to do that right away.” Chet believes that it’s good to give students opportunities to join interactive organizations during their first year of college.

2. LaPrice operates WERG 90.5 in a way that promotes students’ growth. By having students primarily operate the station, he allows them to learn new material that will help in the future.

“We run the station with a two-part mission. First is to serve the Erie community with an alternative type of programming. The other part of the mission is to serve as a learning laboratory for the students and the School of Communications and the Arts so they can learn all of the skills essential in running a professional broadcast operation. We’re writers, we’re performers, we’re producers, we’re creative people, and this is the kind of outlet that serves those things that helps hone those talents and skills.”

3. LaPrice’s love of radio and broadcasting began at an early age.

“There was always a love of listening to radio and TV stations […] When I was in high school, I had a very long bus ride to and from school and I would just listen to my Walkman. It occurred to me that these people on the other end are people, and they seem to be having fun with this, and I thought, ‘Maybe I could do that.’” From that point on LaPrice worked in the broadcasting business, and has been for 15 years.

4. LaPrice is excited for the future of the School of Communications and the Arts, especially with the construction of the new building on campus for the department.

“It’s a very exciting time for our department to have that kind of building and the tools, not only for the students here, but for recruiting future students. We’ve always known our department was special […] we’re seeing the university investing in us and that’s a humbling thing.”

5. Despite working for a radio station that predominantly plays alternative music, LaPrice says his taste in music varies, ranging from country to indie-rockers like Arcade Fire.

“I can’t narrow [my tastes] down to one thing. I worked in country music for a number of years, but I love modern rock as well.”

By interviewing Chet LaPrice, I could tell that he is truly passionate and loves what he does for a living. It is easy to observe that he is so proud of his students, their recent success and their plans for the future.