Gahanna Lincoln High School has its own idol - broadcast idol, that is.

Gahanna Lincoln High School has its own idol - broadcast idol, that is.

Senior Derek Cox has won the inaugural Broadcast Idol contest hosted by the Ohio Center for Broadcasting in Columbus.

"This was the first Broadcast Idol we've done, and we'll definitely do it again," said Tish Hevel, school director for the Ohio Center for Broadcasting. "The talent was tremendous. They're obviously getting good instruction."

Cox was the top online vote getter after viewers checked out his video from among four finalists at

A total of 216,000 votes were cast online from Nov. 10 to 17.

"The cool thing that happened was that we made a handout on how to vote, and (adviser) Mr. (Tom) Gregory handed it out the day before the voting ended," Cox said. "I heard people saying they voted for me."

Cox was officially announced the winner on the Broadcast Idol website at noon Nov. 19, but he had correctly projected himself as the winner after seeing his lead before voting ended.

In addition to Cox, Gahanna Lincoln High School senior Mark Batke also was a finalist as were students from Hilliard Bradley and Olentangy.

Cox will receive $500 for Gahanna's broadcast program for winning the contest.

"With the levy not passing, maybe it can help the TV program a little bit," he said.

E-mail invitations for Broadcast Idol were sent to all central Ohio high schools with a broadcast program, according to Hevel.

"We asked teachers to tell the students about it," she said. "We had 33 people register to enter. Then we had an event on Nov. 6, when they came down and they were coached by reporter Amy Lutz. They all read from the same script, and they went into our TV studio and did one take."

A panel of television experts, including Lutz, picked the four finalists after they presented a 1-minute script.

"We read the piece with a teleprompter; then it was decided by popular vote," Cox said. "We don't have a teleprompter in our TV department, so that was a new experience. It was nerve-racking, but anyone in that situation has some type of nerves."

Batke said each finalist read the same script.

"It was one take in front of a teleprompter," he said. "It was good to see how comfortable you are on camera."

Cox, 17, is a member of the high school speech and debate team, so he's used to pressure. He took introduction to television in his sophomore year, and he has taken classes in broadcasting for the past two years.

"Communications is definitely an interest," Cox said, adding that he would like to attend Northwestern University next fall.

He's the son of D.L. and Christy Cox.

He and Batke also were honored recently through the Ohio Valley Chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Batke is a 2010 Student Award of Excellence winner for his entry, "Teen Driving: Know the Rules," in the public-affairs/community-service/public-service category.

Batke made a public-service announcement about teen driving in fall 2009.

"It was during teen-driving safety week, and I entered it in a contest for Fox Sports Ohio, and I won that contest," he said. "It's just now being recognized with the Emmy. It's always nice to be recognized for your work, no matter when you did it."

Batke said he's honored to win an excellence award that covers a five-state area. He plans to study broadcasting at Ohio State University, Ohio University, Indiana, Ball State, Syracuse or Northwestern.

Cox received honorable mention in the sports category for "The Passing of Coach Nestor."

"It was a feature on (Lincoln assistant football) coach (Tim) Nester, who passed away last year," he said. "Any time you take an emotional story, it touches people."

A crystal pillar "Emmy" award will be presented to the high school as a result of the students' recognition. Gregory, Batke and Cox also will receive certificates recognizing the achievement.

"Both Derek and Mark have been leaders in the class and put a lot of extra effort in all the work they have done while in the TV program," Gregory said.