Poe is America’s top college broadcaster
ASHEBORO — Annabeth Poe and her father, Don, cried when they learned she had won the national radio broadcast championship from Hearst.
“I never thought I could compete nationally,” the 2016 Southwestern Randolph High School graduate said last week. “It’s weird to think that I won a national contest.”
Poe had won the right to go to Houston in May for the national championships from Hearst. But the COVID-19 pandemic shattered those plans, forcing everything to be done online or through Zoom. She said the judges had met with candidates in a number of categories to give them their assignments.
Poe said his subject was to describe “the sounds of everyday life and how my life has changed due to COVID-19.” She texted her classmate at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media, Jared Weber, who was also a radio finalist, to brainstorm and figure out how they would attack the mission.
“The story (the idea) was more personal than anything I had done before,” she said. When she asked the judges for clarification, they told her it was “how you interpret it. We want to see creativity.
Poe said music has always been important to his family, something that “grounds me, comforts me”. So she chose to incorporate music into her two-minute audio story about life under COVID-19 restrictions.
But choosing the means was the easy part. During the four days she had to work on the project, Poe said, “I was really stressed, I didn’t know what to do. I had never done personal stories before. Most personal was a profile on a couple who sang at Grandpa’s church and his funeral.
Poe had started taking piano lessons in third grade after his mother, Jill, lost her battle with cancer. It was “to be an outlet for me”.
So when she had to leave Chapel Hill in March due to the pandemic, Poe had more opportunities to play the piano at her home in Asheboro. “It’s helped me deal with what’s going on, going home, not being able to see my extended family.
“I had been playing ‘Let It Be’ (by the Beatles) for a long time,” she said. “I played it at a gig in high school. It’s important to both (her and her dad, who has a very close relationship with her). With everything out of our control, let it be. anything you can do.
Poe based his radio story on living at home, watching the news on television with his father, and performing “Let It Be”. She sent it and was relieved it was over – win, lose or draw.
Then the Hearst judges called her on June 5 and told her she had won. Poe said she started to cry, then asked them to wait and tell her father. Don came in and they told him his daughter was the winner of the radio contest. Then both shed tears of joy.
Poe said they weren’t allowed to tell anyone until Hearst sent out a press release. She and Don didn’t know what to do with themselves that day, other than pacing the floors of the house – and giggling.
“It’s still shocking to me,” she said. “It didn’t sink.”
For winning first place on radio, Poe was awarded a $10,000 scholarship. Weber, her friend and classmate, took third place and $5,000. UNC-Chapel Hill Hussman School of Journalism and Media placed first in the Tag Team Championship, its fifth title in the past six years.
Poe cut his teeth in radio by taking classes on the subject and contributing to Carolina Connection, a student-run radio show sponsored by Hussman speaker Adam Hochberg. She listed as her favorite stories, in no particular order, people creating Instagram accounts for their pets, college kids campaigning on ‘driving is exhausting’, a cowboy church in Siler City and food insecurity. on the campus.
The food story was particularly instructive for Poe, who interviewed a college student who didn’t have enough money for meals and was forced to find creative ways to eat. “After the story aired, she received a letter from someone who had heard her. They sent him a $100 bill and said, “No Tar Heel should go hungry.” It showed Poe the impact journalism can have on people.
Poe said she was “very grateful for her family, her friends, her teachers” – especially Hockberg, her mentor who encouraged her to enter the Hearst competition. “My classmates are so amazing and supportive. When I was ready to quit, they always encouraged me, helped me. It’s an honor to learn with and from them. And my dad was amazing .
When asked what she learned from competing, Poe said: “I always learned about having confidence in myself, the importance of having a community and that you can go through (difficulties) with someone you know and trust.”
To listen to Poe’s winning radio story, go to the following link: http://www.hearstawards.org/championship/radio-news/2020-radio-championship/2020-first-place-radio-winner/ .