A lifelong love for broadcasting led Baylen Parker, a graduate of the University of Troy, to receive national recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists when he was named a national finalist in the “Radio Feature” category of the Mark of Excellence. Awards 2021.
Parker discovered his interest in broadcasting as a child while playing sports video games with his brother on their PlayStation 2.
“I was talking to myself while we were playing, basically being the commentator for the game, and I realized that I wanted to do something with broadcasting and commentary eventually,” he said. “As I got older, I saw all the things you can do commentating and broadcasting sports – radio, live streaming, stuff like that – and I saw my opportunity. My older brother worked at a radio station when he was in high school, so having those relationships and seeing what it’s all about and how it works interested me.
Parker, a native of Brewton, Alabama, transferred to TROY for his final two years in college and majored in broadcast journalism. In his senior year, he interned with TROY Public Radio.
Each year, the teachers of the Hall School of Journalism and Communication submit several student works to the SPJ and other journalistic organizations. Parker said he knew there was a good chance his shows were submitted, but he didn’t know which interviews or how many.
“When I started my internship, Joey (Hudson) told me that they were submitting some of our stories for awards, just to see if we could win anything,” he said. “It shocks you a bit because when you do an internship, you don’t think you can be recognized for your work at a national level.”
In May 2021, Parker interviewed author and TROY English professor Dr. Kirk Curnutt about his contribution to “Alabama Black,” an anthology of 16 stories from across the state. He said Curnutt and his fellow writers wanted to capture the darker side of storytelling in Alabama and believes the change in subject matter is what got him the judges’ attention.
“I feel like it was the proximity to home and a different topic than a lot of other submissions,” he said. “A lot of stories at the time covered COVID, elections and politics, and mine was kind of a break from that and something different.”
The Mark of Excellence Award honors the best in student journalism across multiple mediums, including print/online, art/graphics, television, videography, and other platforms.
Judges can choose one national winner in each category and up to two national runners-up. If the judges determine that none of the entries has met the standard of excellence, no prize is awarded. Several categories in the “Audio” section did not name winners or finalists.
“We are very proud of Baylen and all of our recent award-winning students and graduates,” said Kyle Gassiott, COO, host and producer of Troy Public Radio. “We are always thrilled and honored at Troy Public Radio to train and mentor the next generation of great audio journalists and storytellers. Baylen’s success story is a great example of what our students can do with a microphone, hard work and their creativity. »
Listen to “Black Alabama: A Conversation with Author Kirk Curnutt” here.