Topic: College of Communication Information and Media

April 20, 2015

Payne Horning, a senior dual majoring in telecommunications and journalism, as well as political science, won the Indiana Associated Press Broadcasters Association's top award for student journalists.

Payne Horning follows the daily maneuvering that shapes laws and policies with the same intensity basketball fans have as they obsess over the NCAA tournament.

The news major has spent four years at Ball State applying his interest in politics to his roles at Indiana Public Radio (IPR)—Ball State’s network of NPR stations—as well as at university’s student-run station, WCRD. And for the student-run television newscast, NewsLink Indiana, he’s covered Muncie politics for a cable audience throughout Delaware County.

“Democracy doesn’t work very well if the public doesn’t know what its elected officials are doing,” says Phil Bremen, a Ball State telecommunications professor who is Horning’s mentor and friend. “Payne Horning is among the journalists who do a really fine job of keeping us informed. He’s just younger than most.”

"Enrolling at Ball State is the greatest decision I have made in my budding career."

Payne Horning,
Ball State senior

His tireless work and dedication to his craft resulted in the Indiana Associated Press Broadcasters Association naming Horning on April 18 as the best student reporter. It was the second time in recent years that a Ball State student has been honored. In 2013, Sarah Phinney, now a television journalist at WDRB News in Louisville, Ky., received the award.

“The award represents the culmination of a sound education and great opportunities I received at Ball State,” says Horning, who will graduate May 2 with a dual degree in telecommunications and journalism with an additional degree in political science.

“Without the experience and mentoring I received at Indiana Public Radio, I wouldn't be half the journalist I am today. To have Indiana's most decorated radio newsroom located right in the heart of campus is an invaluable resource for aspiring broadcasters.”

Attitude, professionalism help transform WCRD

Telecommunications instructor Terry Heifetz credits Horning with transforming WCRD through his professionalism and can-do attitude. Under Horning’s leadership as news director, MTVU and Best College Reviews selected WCRD as a top college radio station.

About Payne Horning

Age: 23

Hometown: Creston, Iowa

Major: telecommunications, journalism, political science

Graduation: May 2015

Activities: Indiana Public Radio, WCRD, NewsLink Indiana, Student Government Association, campus tour guide, TCOM Student Advisory Council

Awards: 2014-2015 Indiana Broadcaster's Association Award, 2014 Political Science Department's Wendell Gruenewald Scholarship, 2012-2013 WCRD Member of the Year Award, 2012 and 2013 John Eiden Radio Scholarship, 2013-2014 Broadcast Education Association's Abe Voron Radio Award

“He helped put WCRD on the news map,” Heifetz says. “When he became news director there, he motivated the news staff to produce more in-depth stories. The station added more special event news coverage and became quite aggressive. Now, WCRD is winning national news awards, partially because of the tone that Payne set.”

Horning also honed his reporting skills during internships.

He interned at the Indiana Statehouse during the 2014 legislative session. This semester, he is covering the 2015 session as a legislative correspondent for Indiana Public Broadcasting.

In addition, he worked at the Reuters News Service, where he served as a regional coordinator and managed 10 staff members, who updated vote count numbers in Detroit-area counties in the 2014 general election. He also interned at CBS Radio News in Washington, D.C. for the summer in 2012.

Following graduation, Horning is planning a career in public policy journalism.

“At the intersection of government and an informed citizenry are political reporters,” he said. “And because of Ball State, that’s where you will find me. The political science program taught me how our complex government works and the news program gave me the skills to ensure it works.”

Letterman Building studios sealed the deal

After several years of breaking news stories and developing skills for today’s multimedia news channels, Horning recalls it was his first visit to Ball State the role it played.

Other Award Winners

Best Reporter (professional)

Stephanie Wiechmann


Best Enterprise Story

Stephanie Wiechmann


Best Public Affairs

Indiana Weekend with John Strauss

“When I was a high school student, I was looking online for a great news school, and Ball State was at the top of every list,” he says. “I immediately fell in love with the campus, but it was the studios in the Letterman Building that sealed the deal. I wanted to work right here and nowhere else.

“Enrolling at Ball State is the greatest decision I have made in my budding career. The news-track concentration taught me how to embrace the 21st century model of reporting without sacrificing the core tenants of journalism. Now, I am more equipped than ever to assume my role as a member of the Fourth Estate.”