By Michele Tallarita ’12
Students in Mark Crain’s political economy course are taking two big topics to the airwaves this semester by producing a broadcast for local television.
The students are at work on the second edition of Lafayette Lens, a 30-minute program that will air on WLVT Channel 39, the PBS affiliate in the Lehigh Valley, Nov. 22, 24, and 25.
Crain, Simon Professor of Political Economy and chair of policy studies, is teaching the class in collaboration with the pros at PBS39, who are helping to coach the students in the skills needed to produce a professional broadcast.
Almost every aspect of the show is student run, including directing, filming, writing, scheduling interviews with industry experts, promotions, and public relations. Two sections of students, around 50 altogether, are working on the project.
The first edition of Lafayette Lens, “The Cyber Craze and the Shale Age,” aired last spring, stirring up great excitement as students saw their semester’s work reach 2.6 million homes.
“Strategic planning, problem solving, cooperation, and teamwork are essential to a successful broadcast, and students formed a number of close ties,” says Crain. “Our partners at PBS39 were delighted by the results and enthusiastic about producing a second edition of Lafayette Lens this fall.”
This semester’s edition will consist of two 15-minute segments titled “First Globals: What’s Different about the Millennial Generation” and “Additive Manufacturing: The Third Industrial Revolution.”
The first explores questions posed in famous pollster John Zogby’s recent book, First Globals: Understanding, Managing, & Unleashing the Potential of Our Millennial Generation. The book describes how Americans born between 1979 and 1994 are more globally aware and sensitive, how they want to make their workplace and planet better, and how to begin to understand them.
The students will report on many perspectives on the millennial generation, such as those of managers, professors, marketers, change-makers, and first globals themselves.
“I previously knew nothing about all of the logistics and behind-the-scenes work that goes into a broadcast, and I have learned so much about the planning that is needed,” says economics major Kristin Heaney ’14 (Allendale, N.J.), who is acting as both a package producer and reporter, having recently interviewed Zogby himself. “Many of the public speaking and interviewing skills I have learned from the PBS producers have helped me overall.”
Policy studies and economics double major Dan Valladares ’14 (Wyckoff, N.J.) is serving as co-host of the broadcast. He recently interviewed S. Kent Rockwell ’66 for the segment on additive manufacturing, otherwise known as 3-D printing. Rockwell is chairman and CEO of ExOne, one of the major producers of industrial 3-D printers.
3-D printing is a groundbreaking technology that allows objects to be made on the spot from digital designs. The segment plumbs the possibilities—and challenges—of this technology, such as its global implications for business and the legal requirements needed to govern it.
As head producer of this segment, John “Mac” Ahsler ’14 (Chatham, N.J.), an economics major, finds himself at the helm of many small teams all striving to create one fluid broadcast. He facilitates class discussions and is in constant correspondence with scriptwriters, directors, his PBS39 advisers, and Crain.
“We are expected to meet deadlines, work together, talk with professionals in different industries, come up with new ideas and present them succinctly to a large group,” he says. “To me, these are all things that can be helpful no matter what you choose as a career.”