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Howard Beach grad makes airwaves in contest

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Howard Beach's Andrew Falzon, 22, a May graduate of Hofstra University, must know exactly what Murrow meant after placing second in the 2005 Hearst National Broadcast News Championships.Falzon went through three rounds of competition, traveled from New York to San Francisco, submitted the best of his previous radio work, reported in a place where he had never been and when it was all over, placed second for the country's top prize in collegiate radio journalism."It took me a few days to figure out the entire process," Falzon said. "I had placed 12th last year, so this year I figured 'let's see if I place any better.' It was probably the most pleasant surprise of my life to get this far."In San Francisco, Falzon and the four other finalists were given the same assignments, one of which was to find hard news concerning the centennial of the 1906 earthquake that rocked the city. "Had I been reporting in Long Island or New York City, that'd have been easy, but I didn't really have a broad base of contacts in San Francisco," Falzon said. Falzon dug up the contact information for a 102-year-old survivor of the earthquake, a geo-seismologist and an official from the San Francisco Fire Department. "I wrote, edited, produced, interviewed. It was a one-man band," Falzon said.For his efforts, Falzon was awarded scholarships totaling $5,000. Jan C. Watten of the Hearst Journalism Awards Program said the Hearst Foundation designed the national awards program to encourage excellence in journalism and journalism education. Prizes are awarded in writing, photography, television and radio news to undergraduates at accredited schools of journalism. Hofstra received accreditation in May 2002 and Falzon represented the school in the competition. "The Hearst awards are huge. The schools he was competing against were enormous, some of the cornerstones of journalism," said Bruce Avery, general manager of Hofstra's radio station WRHU 88.7 FM. "This is a whole new level that he's helped bring us to. He's a trailblazer."Falzon, who at Hofstra received degrees in broadcast journalism as well as political science and minored in technology and public policy and legal studies in business, was the station manager at WRHU for two years, managing a staff of 140. He graduated from Townsend Harris HS in Flushing."WRHU has meant so much to me during my college career," Falzon said. "It provided an environment where I could test drive a career." With extensive radio management experience, interviews with such public figures as Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Eliot Spitzer, Falzon hopes to one day anchor a network evening newscast, such as NBC Nightly News, but would be happy with working on the network news level in TV. "While at Townsend Harris they were just opening up the TV and Radio studios," Falzon said. "They also brought in a teacher for a new elective, broadcast journalism. After that I was hooked." Presently, Falzon is freelancing at Metro Traffic and Weather in Long Island, giving the Tri-State area live traffic reports every 15 minutes. "His skills are extraordinary. He is bright, compassionate, funny, and a natural leader," Avery said. "John Discepolo, who is now the main sports anchor at WNYW-FOX 5, was our sports director at WRHU years ago. I see similar things for Andrew."Reach reporter Albert Silvestri at news@timesledger.com or 718-229-0300, Ext. 139.

Posted 7:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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