MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Two Martinsburg radio stations were honored by their peers Saturday at the 2022 Excellence in Broadcasting Awards in Morgantown, taking home multiple awards in music programming and the news/talk format.
The event was hosted by the West Virginia Broadcasters Association Saturday to recognize outstanding work in both radio and television.
Martinsburg’s flagship music station, Today’s 97-5 WLTF was named the Adult Contemporary Station of the Year.
Program Director and morning show host Rona Mensah said, “It is thrilling to be recognized by the Broadcasters Association for the work that we do on the air and in the community. Every day, we strive to be the station of choice for our listeners with music, entertainment, and information.”
“It’s a team effort with talented, invested professionals who also have a lot of fun and they exude that energy on the air,” Mensah said.
In the news/talk format, WEPM/WCST (known collectively as The Panhandle News Network) was named News/Talk Station of the Year in West Virginia.
“WEPM turned 75 last October,” News Director Marsha Chwalik said during her acceptance speech. “I’m mindful every day of the legacy that the people who went ahead have laid for us and the trust that listeners put in us to be truthful and dependable with the news product that we put out.”
Panhandle Live, heard weekday mornings on the network, won statewide for Best Talk Show. The show can be heard weekday mornings on the network at 93.7 and 93.5 on the FM dial and 1340 and 1010 on the AM dial. The network is also streamed at
Jordan Nicewarner and Marsha Chwalik began co-hosting the show a year ago. When the award was announced, Chwalik got emotional. “We work hard every day to tell the Panhandle’s story.       We like to say that we talk to news makers and difference makers all the time.”
Some days it could be West Virginia Secretary of State or Attorney General calling in. Other days, it might be one of the local sheriffs or Martinsburg’s Chief of Police. The show features local authors and historians as well as community groups, 4-H, and those involved in local theatre.
Nicewarner also serves as Sports Director for the Panhandle News Network. He won for Best Play-By-Play for his entry, which was a compilation of play-by-play from Berkeley Springs High School football and Shepherd University football and basketball.
For Nicewarner, “It was a great experience to be able to be a part of the programs, staff, and student athletes at both Berkeley Springs and Shepherd.”
“Being so well received in the community and having a great product on the field made it a great first year of broadcasting sports in the panhandle,” said Nicewarner, who joined the Martinsburg cluster early in 2021.
Punctuating his winning entry was the nail-biting finish Nicewarner called when Shepherd University Rams quarterback Tyson Bagent completed a last-second, Hail Mary pass against Kutztown University that sent the team to the NCAA D-II Football Semifinals against Ferris State.
Chwalik’s entry won for Best Newscast statewide and featured excerpts from Dr. Jim Siegel with the US Fish and Wildlife Service based at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown. “That was one of our more popular interviews,” Chwalik said. “We ran that story before the Brood X Cicadas had really emerged, and Dr. Siegel was telling our listeners what to expect.” The May 18th newscast also featured updated COVID-19 numbers and a story about a shooting in south Berkeley County.
For Chwalik, who has been News Director since 2020, the untimely death of Martinsburg Mayor Harriet Johnson was a huge story in 2021, but if she had to pick the biggest, “beyond COVID-19, which was woven into our news coverage most days over the past two years, it had to be the Andy McCauley, Jr. trial.”
McCauley was tried and sentenced to life without mercy in the death of concealment of the remains of 15-year-old Riley Crossman of Berkeley Springs. Crossman would have been graduating from Berkeley Springs High School this spring.
“We were in the courtroom every day of that trial and were able to let our listeners in on some of the details they weren’t getting when they watched COURT TV,” Chwalik said. In the entry for station of the year, Chwalik can be heard reporting the verdict from the courthouse.
The winning stations are part of WVRC Media. The Panhandle News Network is also an affiliate of the MetroNews statewide network of news organizations.