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CNN news plans live telecast on Richmond’s campus

Published: February 7, 2013, 12:55 am ET
Collegian Reporter

CNN staff will run a live telecast program from the University of Richmond campus next Tuesday, Feb. 12.

CNN producers have arranged a 30-person group of Richmond city community members to watch and give feedback on President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night. These participants have been selected through an outside company hired by CNN, said Linda Evans, assistant director to media and public relations for Richmond’s campus. Participants will use handheld devices to register what they like and dislike about the speech and will be asked their opinions on the speech by an undisclosed CNN reporter, said Evans.

“Whenever we can get national media attention for the university in a positive way, it’s wonderful,” Evans said. “It gets our name out there, so people can hear about us.” Any positive national attention could lead a prospective student to check out Richmond’s campus or website, Evans said.

CNN has never been to campus before, Evans said, but the program representatives contacted her last Wednesday, Jan. 30, asking to do the live broadcast. CNN senior producer Eric Fiegel has acted as the lead contact, Evans said, and will bring his crew from the Washington, D.C., bureau to campus next Monday to set up. Fiegel was unable to comment until the end of the week.

“We have a lot of the local media on campus,” Evans said. “But to get a national live broadcast on campus is quite unusual, and to have three in one year is very unusual.” NBC producers visited Richmond’s campus in the fall for other political news coverage.

A CNN crew scouted out a campus location last Monday morning, Evans said. The Whitehurst Living Room was chosen for the location of the telecast, she said, because it has a lot of character, and many other rooms were already booked.

The largest issues for set-up crews are the size of the room and the amount of heavy furniture inside, said Bob Rodgers, manager of Richmond’s catering office. On Monday, there was a mass logistical meeting among the campus police department, the events office, technology services, an electrician, catering, and marketing and public relations.

The dynamic of different groups working together works wonderfully on Richmond’s campus, Director of Catering Joe Wolff said. There were about 20 people meeting about this one event, he said.

“It’s really amazing to see how so many different parts of the campus come together whenever we have an event like this,” Evans said. “With this one, we had very little notice.”

Participants of the focus group will arrive on campus around 6 p.m., Evans said, and the State of the Union address will start at 9 p.m.

“The work that goes into hosting a national media outlet like CNN is truly a team effort,” Evans said. CNN’s telecast will be a closed, contained set, she said.

Rodgers said that the CNN employees would surely make the participants feel comfortable and welcome, and Richmond’s team was committed to the comfort and success of everyone involved. Richmond will be making history by aiding in CNN’s coverage of history.

Contact staff reporter Kylie McKenna at kylie.mckenna@richmond.edu

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