Washington Township woman receives Gracie Award for radio documentary

Washington Township woman receives Gracie Award for radio documentary

Washington Township woman receives Gracie Award for radio documentary

NJ.com, February 28, 2014

GLASSBORO -- When the call came, Allie Volpe brushed off receiving the Gracie Award like it was no big deal.

Volpe, 21, of Washington Township has been awarded with the American Women in Radio & Television 2014 Gracie Award for her radio documentary called "Heroin High."

“To be honest, at first I wasn’t blown away by the award because this is the sixth award for this documentary,” said Volpe, a recent Rowan graduate. “But once it sank in that Lena Dunham and Maya Angelou, among others, won Gracies I kind of freaked out a bit.”

The documentary was produced by Rowan students Joe Mineo and Robert Zettlemoyer. The story is about heroin use in South Jersey high schools — an idea that came from one of Volpe's family members.

“Like many good ideas, it came as a suggestion from my mom. She actually told me about it a few times, but I didn’t really have anywhere to use it,” Volpe said.

Volpe said her mother knew someone whose son had died of a heroin overdose and she thought it would make a good story.

“We talked to students at Rowan, people that had drug addictions in high school, administrators in high schools and law enforcement,” she said. “A lot of people said that even though there are drug awareness programs in schools it’s not completely getting rid of the problem.”

Derek Jones, interim station manager at Rowan Radio, and Volpe's professor, said the goal for the students in the class was to get their documentary aired on the radio, not to win awards, but to make it good enough to be aired.

“All documentaries had to be screened by me in order to receive approval to air,” Jones said. “Once they met my criteria to air — including credible sources, proper writing skills and production value — it was given the green light to air.”

Before the class even began, Volpe and Mineo knew they would both be in the class together and decided they needed to be in the same group in order to produce "Heroin High."

Jones said the class was able to pick their own topics, and he felt they needed to be creative.

“Thirty minutes is a long time for a radio documentary,” he said. “And I had some concerns with their topic. We met at least three or four times to discuss who they would talk to, the angle they would take.”

The 30-minute radio documentary aired on WGLS-FM on Dec. 31, 2012, and Volpe said it still draws attention.

“It’s funny how it’s still getting traffic after all this time,” she said. The documentary is available by podcast at Rowan Radio's site.

Volpe is also joining former students Rachael Burgess, Julia Giacoboni and Kelly King as other Rowan Radio 89.7 WGLS-FM members to win a Gracie award.

"Heroin High" has been awarded second place in the student educational audio category in the Broadcast Education Association 2014 contest, has been a finalist for Best Radio Documentary for College Broadcasters, Inc. 2013, received the Award of Distinction for Student Production for the 2013 Crystal Awards, first place for Student Production in the Garden State Journalists Association 2013 contest as well as second place in Enterprise Reporting for the Philadelphia Press Association 2012 contest.

“I think it’s an important topic, and I don’t think people outside of the students understand the problems, unless you’re involved,” Jones said.