411 from FOX 25: Alumni return for College Tour series

by Brook O'Meara-Sayen / Beacon Correspondent • October 22, 2014

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Fox 25 visited the Emerson campus
Fox 25 visited the Emerson campus

For once, President M. Lee Pelton was seen outdoors without his trademark Ray-Ban sunglasses.

But to be fair, it was still dark.

Seated next to Fox 25 Morning News commentator Doug “VB” Goudie in the cold pre-dawn hours of Friday, Oct. 17, Pelton kicked off the program’s live broadcast from Emerson.

“We’re a place of creativity and innovation,” he said at 6:55 a.m, listing famous alumni and professors and joking with Goudie.

The college was the latest stop for the four-hour show’s “Morning News’ College Tour” series, which profiles Boston-area institutions every fall. This year, it featured Babson College, Wheaton College, University of New Hampshire, and Assumption College, according to the show’s website.

Behind Goudie and Pelton were members of the women’s soccer team, who cheered and laughed throughout the interview.

“Our coach thought it [would] be a good idea for the whole team to come and support Emerson,” Annie Carroll, a sophomore on the team, said in an interview with the Beacon. “So we did it as a team effort, and it was pretty fun.”

As the sun began to rise, four of Emerson’s a cappella groups sang a rendition of Emerson’s alma mater to the delight of onlookers and the newscasters.

“I like that all the a cappella groups can band together,” said junior Emily White, a member of Achoired Taste, in an interview with the Beacon. “We have one song we can all sing together.”

From there, Fox 25 reporter Elizabeth Hopkins joined Goudie in interviewing students and faculty from various academic divisions and extracurricular groups, including some from Emerson’s entrepreneurship program and visual and media arts department.

The broadcast ended with a rousing performance by junior performing arts students Alexis Harter, Andrea Sweeney, and Kaitlin Corbus of “You Could Drive a Person Crazy,” a selection from the 1970 musical Company.

At first, the early-morning event attracted little attention, but around 8 a.m., student and faculty foot traffic picked up, many lured by the prospects of free coffee and being on TV.

Several companies opened tents near the taping—including Dunkin’ Donuts; Teddie, a peanut butter brand; and Canobie Lake Park, an amusement park in New Hampshire—and provided promotional materials and games for onlookers.

Fox 25 contacted Emerson in August about the feature, and worked closely with the school to plan the on-air programming, said Carole McFall, assistant vice president for communications and marketing, and director of media relations. 

“It’s been a really collaborative process,” McFall said. “They gave us an idea, sort of an outline, but I’ve been working with them on who will be interviewed and trying to get as many student groups involved as possible.”

Emerson was an obvious choice for the show, said Maggie Hennessey-Nees, a Fox 25 spokesperson, because of its urban location and ties to Fox 25.

Eight of the 21 anchors and reporters listed on the Fox 25 website graduated from Emerson, including anchor Maria Stephanos and both of the Morning News hosts, Gene Lavanchy and Shannon Mulaire.

Catherine Parrotta is a 2007 graduate who now works at Fox 25 as a morning reporter and fill-in anchor. The visiting Emerson alumna said it was like a trip down memory lane.

“The part I saw is just as I remembered it,” Parrotta said in an interview with the Beacon. “You have so many talented students, and I love the energy they bring to the city and to campus.”

Lauren Feeney, a senior journalism major said she woke up early to participate. She was dressed in Emerson-branded apparel as she stood with other students in the background, hoping for a chance to be on TV.

“Just to see the Fox 25 newscasters is really fun since I’m a journalism major,” said Feeney. “I think that’s a really a good experience to already have, looking forward into my future.”

Many at the taping were interested in the equipment Fox 25 brought and looked on as each segment was set up and produced. Parrotta said that she thought it was a great opportunity for students looking to enter the TV industry.

“I’m hoping for the journalism students, this is kind of a glimpse at what their jobs will be like in the future,” she said. “I know that when I was a student here, that was so helpful, to be able get hands-on experience, or to be able to see how the process goes.”