February 6, 2023

Crystal Mic Awards – INBA’s contest for Illinois TV, radio stations

Welcome to the INBA Crystal Mic Awards, below are the entry instructions. Entries for the 2023 contest will begin July 1, 2023.

Where to enter


In the dropdown, for “Select State” choose: Illinois News Broadcasters Association

FYI: Large Market stations include Chicago and St. Louis. Small Market entries are for stations serving an Illinois audience outside of the Chicago/St. Louis metro markets. Entries can include border markets in Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Indiana which have a signal in Illinois. Our awards platform is Rock Our Awards and payment is made through PayPal on the Rock Our Awards portal. You can also pay by check made out to “INBA Awards” sent to Tanya Koonce/INBA Treasurer, 1470 N. Main St. East Peoria, 61611.

Questions? Contact Contest Manager H Wayne Wilson: hwilson@mtco.com

Important deadlines

For work completed July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023

Entries accepted starting July 1, 2023

Finalists announced: August 2023

Awards presented: Sept. 9, 2023, at the Illinois News Broadcasters Association Fall Convention in Urbana.

Price per entry

Large Market TV, $45

Small Market TV, $30

Large Market Radio, $35

Small Market Radio, $20


INBA Crystal Mic Award for Best Station (Large and Small Market Television and Radio):

Entry should contain parts of locally-originated, regularly-scheduled newscasts aired on any date during the contest period, minus commercials/PSAs. Other components may include separate examples of spot news, features and other work to showcase the overall performance of the news operation. Entry must contain a written overview that lists in bullet-point form descriptions of the included items. All entries should be as they appeared on air without additional voice-over or narration. Entries may be edited.

Time limit: 50 minutes for TV; 25 minutes for radio.

Entry Limit per Station: One

INBA Paul Davis Crystal Mic Award for Best Newscast (Large and Small Market Television and Radio):

Entry should include one locally-originated, regularly-scheduled newscast, minus commercials/PSAs on any date during the contest period.

Time limit: 25 minutes for Television and 15 minutes for Radio (after commercials/PSAs are removed)

Entry Limit per Station: One

INBA Crystal Mic Award for Best Reporter (Large and Small Market Television and Radio):

Entry must include at least three non-documentary stories broadcast during the contest period. Stories should demonstrate research and writing skills while also displaying initiative in reporting and performance. The entrant should be an individual who regularly handles daily assignments but may also handle occasional special assignments.

Time Limit: 25 minutes for Television and Radio

Entry Limit: None.

INBA Crystal Mic Award for Best Weather Operation (Large and Small Market Television Only):

Entry, minus commercials/PSAs, may include up to four weather blocks from at least two different individuals aired during the contest period. Presentations should demonstrate knowledge, performance and ability to present useful information to viewers.

Time Limit: 25 Minutes

Entry Limit per Station: One

INBA Crystal Mic Award for Best Digital Presence (Large and Small Market Television and Radio):

Judges will view a station’s website, social media feeds and apps. Judges will consider content, overall appearance, ease of navigation, success at building an online audience and community involvement. Station entries should include a listing of digital offerings and evidence of community engagement.

Other important information

  • All entries must be submitted online.
  • Entries must be submitted to www.rockourawards.com. Be sure to read the information on the home page concerning the entry process and appropriate file sizes and types.
  • Create a profile (username and password) by clicking the “Register” button on the top of the homepage.  Complete the information, click submit and you’ll be taken to the Illinois News Broadcasters Association homepage. 
  • From the homepage you can review awards rules, submit an entry, view and edit an entry, or edit your station’s information.
  • To enter a category, click “Submit Entry” and fill in the information.  The headline/title should be what you would want shown on a plaque.
  • Acceptable file formats to upload to the site are .mp3, .jpg, .gif, .png, .bmp, .doc, docx, .wma, .pdf, .mp4, .wmv and .mov files.
  • RockOurAwards.com requires video entries to be linked from YouTube, Vimeo, other video hosting sites, or a station website.  Simply copy/paste the videos URL in the “Add Link” section.     
  • Special characters should be avoided in file names.  Stick with letters, numbers, &, dots, dashes and underscores, “NO # or apostrophes” 
  • If you have questions, are running into trouble, or need to reset your password, email info@rockourawards.com or call 800-471-1875.

Ryan Denham

I recently attended my first INBA conference—and it won’t be my last. The combination of professional and student journalists learning together is electric. Everyone learns from each other and walks away with new friends (and LinkedIn connections). I know I did.

Brian O'Keefe

One of the greatest benefits for me has been getting to see and know other parts of the state. I’m not from Illinois and traveling to spring and fall conventions over the years has transformed dots on a map to memories of places that enhance my story telling process.

Nora Baldner

The support INBA gives to student journalists is vitally important as we all discover how technology is changing news dissemination, INBA monitors and actively encourages truth, transparency and accountability from students and their universities.

Molly Jirasek

One of my top goals in my career was to get to Chicago. Thanks to INBA I met Margaret Larkin. She remembered our great conversations about Chicago and first alerted me to a job opening in the city I might be interested in. Lo and behold, I got that job! INBA helped me reach my dream.

Bob Roberts

INBA is as much about friendship and as it is about achieving common goals. It provides two things individual newsrooms cannot: in-service training, and the ability to speak out on issues affecting the profession. But most of all, it brings newspeople together.

Aaron Eades

As a student, it's often difficult to picture what working in the real world will be like. For me, the INBA bridged that gap by giving me the chance to talk to professionals who used to be in the same shoes I'm in now.

Alexis McAdams

INBA played a huge part in preparing me for my broadcasting career. The INBA conventions connect students with on-air talent and news directors who give feedback on now to improve your work. Through relationships I made at those conventions, I was able to obtain my first on air reporting job.

Mike Miletich

Joining the INBA was one of my best life decisions. I met some of the best broadcast journalists while I was still a college student. Plus, I ended up getting a job through the connections I made!

Michelle Eccles McLaughlin

INBA is an organization that really caters to continuing education for professionals. It offers a relatively inexpensive way to learn new things, reinforce best practices and network.

Andrew Tanielian

INBA taught me how to network in a meaningful way. The scholarship process taught me how to endure a hard job interview and thrive.

Jennifer Fuller

INBA is not only a great networking tool, it also provides advocacy and support for journalists in an ever-changing world.

Jeff Bossert

When I was working in radio for the first time, I had no idea whether I could truly handle the demands. But INBA made me curious and want to improve. Even now, when I’ve maybe worked a lot of hours or planned some stories that didn’t come together for one reason or another, what I learn from an INBA conference gets me re-invigorated about the business.

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