BVU’s Frantz Earns Iowa Media Education Award

Dr. Andrea Frantz, professor of digital media, was awarded the prestigious John Eighmey Service Award from the Iowa College Media Association. Students also earned 33 awards through their work with BVTV, The Tack, and KBVU.

A prolific wordsmith, Buena Vista University’s Dr. Andrea Frantz succumbs to laughter recounting the tale of a grand career honor, one bestowed upon her recently at the Iowa College Media Association awards dinner, one of 33 accolades earned by BVU in the organization's annual contest.

“I ran out of words,” she says with a smile.

Frantz was caught off-guard as her colleague, Jerry Johnson, BVU assistant professor of digital media and a 2015 winner of the John Eighmey Service Award, took his place at the podium to introduce the 2020 honoree, presented to the individual whose efforts have been instrumental in advancing the quality of media education in Iowa.

"Working with students makes this amazing. And, this country has never needed student journalists more than it does now."

Dr. Andrea Frantz

“I had my head down, texting a picture to (BVU student) Olivia Wieseler, who is working in Washington, D.C., this semester,” Frantz says. “Olivia had just won the prestigious First Amendment Award, an award that represents my passion. I took a photo of the plaque and was sending it to her.”

Johnson enthusiastically described the 2020 honoree as Frantz continued texting. Soon, words ringing all too familiar suspended in the air around her table, penetrating her state of oblivion, really.

“Jerry was describing me!” she says with a laugh.

Frantz rose to the applause and walked to the head of the room to accept her plaque. The writer/educator then ran high on inspiration, low on verbiage.

Before nodding and returning to her seat, she noted how undeserving she felt was for the award, summarizing, “This is really for our students. Working with students makes this amazing. And, this country has never needed student journalists more than it does now.”

The winner packed a punch in 15 seconds of fame, a fleeting span of time decades in the making.

Andrea Frantz was raised in a home devoted to free speech and free press. The daughter of John and Alice Breemer, of Grinnell, remembers walking with her mother as Grinnell College students joined members of the community in a protest. Her father, longtime editor of the Grinnell Herald-Register, covered the march, rather than participate in it.

“I learned about newspapers by watching my dad,” she says. “I can still remember Dad taking important calls for the newspaper at our home, standing there on the only phone we had in the house, a rotary phone at his desk.”

A pair of first-place plaques from 1977 decorated the wall above the desk. One noted Breemer’s “Best Story” while the other hailed his “Best Editorial” from that year’s Iowa Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest. Breemer, who died in 2005, won state honors for his writing on multiple occasions in the 1970s and 1980s.

Since 2012, Frantz has made BVU students and the University’s digital media program her professional passion. BVU’s digital media students topped all comers in winning the Society for Collegiate Journalists inaugural Sweeps Award in 2019. KBVU, which Frantz supervises, was named Iowa’s top collegiate radio station of the year in 2019, and again in 2020.

BVU students earned more than 30 state awards, including eight first-place accolades, at the recent Iowa College Media Association trade show in Des Moines. Organizers saved Frantz’s award for last.

“I don’t deserve this,” she says while glancing at the plaque in her Lage Communications Center office. “I see this as going to someone who has 50 years in this important work. I only have 30.”

Her return to BVU with the hardware in tow, is a bit on the temporary side as educational challenges await this semester at the University of California-Berkeley and through Georgetown University’s online instruction. As the 2018 George Wythe Award winner, Frantz will challenge herself to learn all she can about podcasts and social-impact storytelling in the one-semester sabbatical that comes with earning BVU’s highest honor for excellence in teaching.

“I’m combining my passion for social justice with what I do in digital media,” says Frantz, who will also take a brief respite from teaching U.S. Citizenship classes in Storm Lake, an important role she’s played in this diverse community since 2013. “I knew newspapers and not a thing about the audio world when Dr. Bruce Ellingson, BVU professor emeritus of digital media, retired. I made this program my own through trial and error. Thankfully, our hardworking students have embraced it.”

Though the professor maintains some unsteadiness when it comes to forecasting experiences at Berkeley and through Georgetown, she’s firm in this assessment: It’s good and necessary to leave one’s comfort zone. That’s how we learn; how we grow.

“I’m heading out to practice what I preach to our students all the time,” she says.

Digital Media students with awards

Student Awards

Here’s a look at the following Iowa College Media Association student award winners from the BVU digital media department:

First Place: Best Sports Program, Tanner Frost – KBVU; Radio Feature Package, Charisma Mendez – KBVU; Long-form Radio Package, Guy Tannenbaum, Omar Alcorta, Iran Carlos, Allyssa Ertz, Tyler Brunner, and Tanner Frost – KBVU; Best Podcast, Tyler Brunner – KBVU; Best Multimedia Slideshow, Allysa Ertz, Ella Wiebusch, and Olivia Wieseler – The Tack; Best Opinion Writing, Olivia Wieseler – The Tack; Best Interactive Content, Allysa Ertz – The Tack; and Best On-Air Personality, Omar Alcorta – KBVU.

Second Place: Best Promo, Tyler Brunner and Job Saunders – KBVU; Best Show (entertainment), Tyler Brunner – KBVU; Radio Feature Package, Guy Tannenbaum, Omar Alcorta, Iran Carlos, and Tyler Brunner; Long-Form Radio Package, Timothy Jeffries – KBVU; Best Variety- Music and Comedy Program, Mason McGrew, Guy Tannenbaum, and BVTV Crew – BVTV; Best Sportscasting, Guy Tannenbaum, Nick Henrichs, Mason McGrew, and BVTV Crew – BVTV; Best Short Film, Mason McGrew – BVTV; Best Multimedia Slideshow, Tanner Frost, Elijah Zaiger, and Timothy Jeffries – The Tack; Best Investigative News Story, Autumn McClain – The Tack; and Best Blog, Stefan Collins – The Tack.

Third Place: Best Show (entertainment), Omar Alcorta – KBVU; Radio Feature Package, Guy Tannenbaum and Isabel Haas – KBVU; Best Podcast, Austin West and Lavell Harris – KBVU; Best Variety- Music and Comedy Program, Zach Hess and BVTV Crew – BVTV; Best Short Documentary, Emily White and Noah Bardwell – BVTV; Best Multimedia Slideshow, Jordyn Daggs-Olson – The Tack; and Best on Air Personality, Job Saunders – KBVU.

Honorable Mention: Best Promo, Tyler Brunner – KBVU; Best Show (entertainment), Job Saunders –KBVU; Best Sports Broadcast, Guy Tannenbaum and Tanner Frost – KBVU; Best Blog, Anthony Gallagher – The Tack; Best Staff Editorial(s), Allysa Ertz and Ella Wiebusch – The Tack; and Best Interactive Content, The Tack Staff – The Tack.