Page 1



Pg. 24

FLIPPO Class of ‘65 Pg. 16





2 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013































BROADCAST PRODUCTION: BP FILM: F MULTIPLATFORM JOURNALISM: MP PUBLIC RELATIONS & ADVERTiSING: PRA ON OUR COVER Chet Flippo, Class of ‘65, on assignment in Huntsville for Rags magazine at the Texas Prison Rodeo in the early 1970s. Photo courtesy of Ernie Flippo


Junior MCOM major Keenan Jones [F] with his mother Angelic Brown at Bowers Stadium, moments before his coronation as SHSU’s 2013 Homecoming King. Photo by Bryan Blalock


4 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013

Mingling WITH THE




riority One brought another award-winning media figure to campus, hosting ABC News Radio White House correspondent Ann Compton for its “Mingling with the Media” event in the spring. The student-run PR firm cosponsored the event with SHSU’s Office of the President as part of the President’s Speaker Series. Compton joined Univeristy President Dr. Dana Gibson and longtime friend Peter Roussel on the stage of the James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center’s Concert Hall on April 23. A full-capacity audience of hundreds listened intently to the esteemed journalist’s anecdotes and reflections of a career spanning seven presidential administrations and her life as a mother of four. “Ann Compton has lots of wisdom, so we were able to take away a lot from her experiences and memories,” said senior George Mattingly [Print Journalism], an attendee who live-blogged from the event for an MCOM class.

Priority One offers MCOM students the opportunity to be a part of a working public relations entity while earning college credit through a practicum led by Roussel, the Warner Chair of Journalism and former White House deputy press secretary for President Ronald Reagan. “The way I try to conduct Priority One is that it’s their company, not mine,” Roussel said. “The students run it, and they pick the clients. Every now and then, I’ll make a suggestion or give a bit of advice, but I’m mainly just there for overall guidance.” Each semester, approximately ten PR students organize and promote an on-campus event with a guest speaker, called “Mingling with the Media.” The group has partnered with the Office of the President and tied the event to the President’s Speaker Series on two other occasions: SHSU alumnus Dan Rather and baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan’s visits to campus in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Maggie Collum, former director of special events for the Office >>



MINUTE BY MINUTE Senior George Mattingly [Print Journalism] live-blogged from the Ann Compton event for Dr. Robin Johnson’s MCOM 4365 Online Journalism class, using CoverItLive software. Mattingly described live-blogging as “a cool way to cover an event because people are getting updates as it happens.” “Readers are really in the moment,” he said. “This type of reporting teaches you to think on your feet. You have to be quick and accurate and focus on everything from the speech itself to the audience reaction to applause lines.” “Live-blogging is a good tool for journalists and a newer way to use multimedia in reporting,” Mattingly said.

6 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013

of the President, said Priority One complimented the Priority One students for their contributions to these events. “They came up with great ideas to get students involved, especially with social media and setting up in the mall area,” she said. “We basically walked together hand-in-hand. Our office provided the marketing materials and the students took it from there.” Priority One member and senior Jasmine Moore said her primary responsibilities were making sure that the event was properly advertised on campus via physical signage as well as promotional slides which appeared throughout the Lowman Student Center’s TV monitors in the weeks leading up to the event. “The main concern was getting people in the seats,” said Moore [PRA]. “Considering the time the event was (11 a.m.), I think turnout was outstanding. We put out Facebook statuses with

PREVIOUS PAGE Ann Compton talks with President Dana Gibson and long-time friend Peter Roussel. ABOVE Compton meets with Roussel , Dr. Jean Bodon and Priority One students at Austin Hall. TOP LEFT Roussel interviews Compton in the Channel 7 Studio. BOTTOM LEFT Compton adds her signature to the GPAC’s Wall of Fame. All Compton photos by Bryan Blalock OPPOSITE PAGE Photo provided by George Mattingly

trivia facts about Ann Compton. We’d go to the yard three times a week to get people to come out to the event.” Roussel emphasized that “Priority One provides the same basic functions a real world PR firm does.” “Students get the same training and on-the-job experience they would working for someone outside the university,” he said. “Having worked for five PR firms myself, I try to simulate that as much as possible.” Although Roussel helms the group, he insisted that “as far as day to day operations, it’s left up to the students.” “I try to teach from my experiences and hope the students find that helpful,” he said. “I let the students in Priority One do the heavy-lifting, and I’m there for advice as they need me.” Collum said Priority One also played a critical role in spreading the word about Compton’s achievements to the university community.

“A lot of times when we have speakers on campus, students might know the name or face, but not know who the person actually is,” Collum added. “One of the things we emphasized to the Priority One students was how important it is to make sure the student population knows about our guest’s accomplishments.” Compton has worked for ABC News since the Ford Administration, traveling to all 50 states to provide presidential reporting. Following the Watergate scandal, she became the first woman and one of the youngest reporters assigned to cover the White House full time by a network TV news organization, according to Compton moderated the 1988 and 1992 presidential debates and served as 2007-2008 president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, the veteran journalist was covering

a speech President George W. Bush gave to schoolchildren in Sarasota, Fla. According to, Compton was the sole broadcast reporter permitted to remain aboard Air Force One, and she traveled with the president throughout the day, covering his response to the terrorist attack for ABC News. The network’s 9/11 coverage, which included Compton’s reporting, later earned accolades from the News Emmys, the George Foster Peabody Award and the Silver Baton Alfred I. duPont - Columbia University Award. Compton praised Roussel and Priority One for their role in planning and executing her visit to SHSU. “One of the most enjoyable parts of my day was breakfast with the students of Mr. Roussel who clearly had worked closely as a team on arrangements,” Compton said. “That’s an important skill set.” —Colin Harris


Branching outTO


8 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013


he MCOM department broke new ground for the College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication last spring, when it inaugurated CoFAMC’s first class at The Woodlands Center (TWC). The 22 students in MCOM 3381 Principles of Public Relations served as pioneers for the College and the department’s initial steps toward establishing an alternative-campus option for the Public Relations & Advertising program. “With PR, people who are already in the workforce and looking to get back into school may be a market we’re missing out on,” CoFAMC Dean Dr. Ronald Shields said. “There’s potential to attract new students who are location-bound and can’t come to Huntsville.” Shortly after opening its doors in May 2012, SHSU’s The Woodlands Center has offered upper-level and graduate coursework in a variety of subjects for students looking for a change of pace from the main campus. “The Woodlands Center is a wonderful, state-of-the-art facility filled with technology to enhance learning,” TWC Executive Director Dr. Janet Mullings said. “From its inception, it was planned and designed for teaching.” Dean Shields toured TWC this fall and returned to Huntsville with hopes of installing more of the College’s classes in the “immaculate and beautiful” building. “The completed floors have wonderful teaching spaces already installed,” Dr.

Shields said. “The areas which haven’t been finished provide a wonderful avenue for customization to suit our needs.” In addition to high-tech classrooms, study areas, faculty offices and an 80-seat computer lab, TWC also holds a Barnes and Noble bookstore, an ARAMARK food P.O.D., an outpost of the Newton Gresham Library and a University Police Department office. Its One Stop Center for students provides admissions, academic advising, enrollment, financial aid and bursar services. These conveniences appealed to junior Amanda Joiner [PRA], who also preferred TWC’s modern aesthetic. “I like how open it is with lots of space and windows,” she said. “It’s not as dreary as some of the older buildings on campus.” While Joiner has yet to take a class at TWC, the Woodlands resident regularly uses the computer lab for school work. “Mainly, I want to go there because it’s closer to home,” she said. For students like Joiner and senior Calvin Nguyen [PRA] of Conroe, The Woodlands Center provides an ease of access previously unknown to SHSU’s commuters. Now a three-semester veteran of TWC, Nguyen has taken mass communication, marketing and psychology classes at the satellite campus. “The drive isn’t as bad as going to Huntsville,” he said. “I definitely save a lot of money on gas when I can just go to The Woodlands.” >>

“The Woodlands Center is a wonderful, state-of-the-art facility filled with technology to enhance learning.” -Janet Mullings, Ph.D., TWC Executive Director

FAR LEFT The open stairwell at The Woodlands Center features a multistory mosaic tile mural by artist Dixie Friend Gay, reflecting the greenery of the building’s surroundings. LEFT TWC opened on May 30, 2012, at 3380 College Park Drive.



2,000 Department chair Dr. Jean Bodon said TWC’s ability to draw students from the Houston area enriches the learning environment for MCOM classes. “About a third of [TWC] students are new to the university and older than most undergraduates,” Dr. Bodon said. “They bring a different set of life experiences to our community.” One example is senior Lisa Slaughter [PR], who works full time as an administrative assistant in the legal department of Chevron-Phillips Chemical Company LP. Slaughter currently takes two classes at TWC, including MCOM 3381, and has to use hours of vacation time to attend a third class on campus. “[TWC] is closer to work, only about 10 minutes away, so it’s much more convenient and with night classes, absolutely,” she said. “I see more


AT THE WOODLANDS CENTER IN FALL 2013 working people, older than the college students I see in classes in Huntsville.” Despite the allure for students living and working in outlying communities, most of the students in MCOM’s TWC classes reverse-commute from the main campus. Nguyen said several of his Huntsville-based classmates formed carpools for their PR class at TWC last spring. Sophomore Evan Elder [PRA] chose to take the MCOM 3381 evening section at TWC this fall, even though he has to make the 40-mile drive after being in classes at the Rather building all day. “If it was more than one day a week, it would take more consideration,” Elder said. “Driving down there once a week is no problem at all.” Although most sections meet in the evening, Dr. Mullings said

10 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013

more than 2,000 SHSU students are taking classes at TWC in fall 2013, and the number of courses and overall enrollment have consistently grown during the past year and half. A survey of TWC students revealed “overwhelming support” for more scheduling options for classes at the facility, so the university is currently exploring ways to meet popular demand, she added. “We’re totally full at night, but we’re growing our daytime offerings,” Dr. Mullings said. The MCOM department has scheduled two classes at TWC for spring 2014: MCOM 3381 Principles of Public Relations and MCOM 3385 Advanced Writing for Public Relations & Advertising. Plans for additional TWC classes in mass communication are in the works for summer and fall 2014. —Colin Harris

ABOVE TWC’s course selection and overall enrollment have consistently grown since its opening. RIGHT The green-based decor of TWC draws from the heavily forested enviroment of The Woodlands. BELOW TWC encompasses 144,164 sq. ft. over four stories with an adjacent parking garage.

All photos provided by The Woodlands Center. © Aker Imaging, Houston, Texas


Global Center for Journalism and Democracy Presents:

KITTY PILGRIM “I used to come home to my sons at the kitchen table after a long hard slog at CNN, and they’d have Jon Stewart on. I’d say, ‘You’re not watching CNN?’ ‘No, we’re watching Jon Stewart.’ They learned about Kim Jong-il from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. They didn’t learn about him from CNN.” -Kitty Pilgrim


he growth of entertainment journalism in America could give rise to a “whole generation of ignorant people,” former CNN anchor Kitty Pilgrim warned students during a visit to Sam Houston State University. The well-traveled newswomanturned-novelist discussed the role of journalism in the information age as well as her recent transition to writing fact-based fiction at SHSU on Oct. 22. SHSU’s Global Center for Journalism and Democracy (GCJD) hosted Pilgrim for two events: an afternoon interview w i t h former C N N

anchor Kelli Arena, GCJD’s executive Pilgrim cited a Princeton director, in the Channel 7 studio and University study revealing that people an evening talk in the James and Nancy with an interest in current events are Gaertner Performing Arts Center. now consuming more news throughout More than 50 MCOM students the course of their day, whereas people attended the Peabody- and Emmy- who are not engaged with the news winning journalist’s interview, and have less incidental exposure to it due approximately 70 students and faculty to the growing number of specialized members were present for her evening publications. presentation. In decades past, people had to In both settings, Pilgrim spoke filter through hard news to seek about the expanding presence of out entertainment-specific content, celebrity gossip in the media. inadvertently becoming better She said people who are not informed in the process, she said. particularly interested in news are not Pilgrim mentioned the awardgetting news in the course of the day the winning 2012 movie “Zero Dark way that they used to, because they’re Thirty” as a product that fused news choosing entertainment and information into a compelling products dramatization. The critically acclaimed “We are getting a real film chronicled the Navy SEALs’ mission split-up on the amount to execute Osama bin Laden. of information going “A film like ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ … into certain segments of brings forth real social issues and the population,” Pilgrim an approximation of maybe what said. “That is extremely happened,” she said. “You get a huge worrisome because we’ll social discussion about a topic that have a whole generation would have been strictly a news topic in of ignorant people.” a previous decade.” Pilgrim also referenced “The Daily Show with Jon ABOVE Kitty Pilgrim speaks at the Stewart” and “The Colbert GPAC on Oct. 22. Photo by Stephen Report” as other examples Green. LEFT Courtesy of Pilgrim. of the fusion of news and

12 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013

entertainment. She said audiences for comedians Stewart and Colbert may not get information from other sources, a phenomena that exists even in her own home. “I used to come home to my sons at the kitchen table after a long hard slog at CNN, and they’d have Jon Stewart on,” Pilgrim said. “I’d say, ‘You’re not watching CNN?’ ‘No, we’re watching Jon Stewart.’ They learned about Kim Jong-il from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. They didn’t learn about him from CNN.” Sophomore Jose Medina [MP] said he agreed with many of Pilgrim’s points about getting news from various sources. “I’m a growing news junkie, so I’m always visiting different websites and watching TV programs to get my news fix,” Medina said. Intertwining entertainment with news predates Stewart and Colbert, CoFAMC Dean Dr. Ronald Shields noted. “She reminded me of when I studied Shakespeare as an undergraduate,” Dean Shields said. “He was popular during his time because he created a product that informed his audience about the world around them while also entertaining.”

In 1984 Pilgrim was working in Belgium as a graduate intern for the U.S. Mission to the European Community when she first noticed CNN — her future employer —while eating lunch at the US embassy in Brussels. By 1986 she had “abandoned all previous plans” and went to New York to work for the 24-hour news network media mogul Ted Turner had founded in 1980. “I really felt strongly about broadcasting in English globally,” Pilgrim said. “I really thought it would tie the world together and help people communicate.” Since 2010, Pilgrim has used her skills as a journalist to pen two “factbased fiction” novels: “The Explorer’s Code” and “The Stolen Chalice.” Both books are romantic adventure tales but differ from other mass-market paperbacks in that Pilgrim researched in depth the far-away locales her jetsetting protagonist visits to add to the authenticity of the stories and their descriptive, historical backgrounds. Pilgrim used Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park” as an example of how to weave “information throughout the plot line” of a novel. “[T]he first time Americans thought about DNA was when they read ‘Jurassic

Park,’” she said. “I like to put science in my books so that we all learn it easily, nice and fun.” Senior Connor Hyde [MP] interviewed Pilgrim to write a GCJD press release in advance of her visit. He said the research and writing that Pilgrim the author does is similar to what Pilgrim the journalist would do, albeit with a “fiction twist and a love interest.” “It’s informing through entertainment, but it’s still reading,” he said. “She’s adjusting to an audience that wants to be entertained.” Hyde said Pilgrim demonstrated to MCOM students that “as a journalist, there are different ways you can inform and tell a story.” “What [Pilgrim] is teaching students is how to write with a voice,” he added. Senior and GCJD intern Holland Behn [PRA] said Pilgrim’s speech provided insight to MCOM students about to embark on careers in media. “Everybody here deals with information, whether it’s entertainment or the news,” senior Holland Behn said. “To tie those two things together helped inform students of the possible paths they can take when they graduate.” —Colin Harris





Jenna Jackson at SHSU’s Homecoming game at Bowers Stadium on Oct. 12. Photo by Brian Blalock



roducer/journalist Jenna Jackson (Class of 1997) is the first female recipient of Sam Houston State University’s Outstanding Young Alumnus Award. “I can’t describe how honored I am to be chosen for the young alumni award and thrilled I’m still technically considered young!” Jackson said. “I know the huge array of people SHSU had from which to choose, and it’s amazing to me that I was the choice.” After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism and political science, Jackson worked as a reporter for The Beaumont Enterprise for nine months before moving to New York City to begin her career at CBS News. In 2012 she earned the News & Documentary Emmy Award in 2012 as producer on the “48 Hours” story about Anthony Graves, a Texas death-row inmate wrongfully convicted of six murders. “My nearly 15 years at CBS were an incredible journey for me,” Jackson said. “I honed my skills as a booker and producer. And I was in the amazing position to meet truly courageous people over the years - and tell their stories.”

In 2011 she started P&R Productions, which has churned out three documentaries, various commercial projects and an upcoming true crime series. Jackson credited her time at SHSU, where she met her mentor, Dan Rather, and worked as editor-in-chief of The Houstonian, as laying the groundwork for a successful career in broadcast journalism. “The key to growing solid journalists is a solid foundation in writing and reporting and ... an environment where students get real world experience,” she said. “You learn best not in a classroom environment - but by doing and making mistakes along the way.” “With the newspaper, radio and television stations on campus, Sam gives its students an instant advantage with real experience under their belts when they step out into the workplace,” Jackson added. —Colin Harris

BEHIND THE BASH Casey Hughes at the Distinguished Alumni Gala. Photo by Brian Blalock

Since 2012, the Distinguished Alumni Gala, one of the university’s most prestigious events, has taken place under the watchful eye of MCOM alumna Casey Hughes. SHSU’s Coordinator of Alumni Events and Event Marketing graduated from Sam with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations in May 2012. Hughes, who joined the Office of Alumni Relations in June 2012, loves her job, especially because “there’s a sense of alumni pride and loyalty” in the work.

Damian Mandola, with his grandson Rocco, at the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Gala at the Lowman Student Center on Oct.11. Photo by Brian Blalock



estaurateur Damian Mandola (Class of 1977) was one of three honorees of Sam Houston State University’s 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor that the university and the Alumni Association can bestow upon alumni. The commercially and critically successful entrepreneur graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Radio and Television and was a catcher on the Bearkat baseball team. He also opened his first restaurant, Damian’s Fine Italian Foods, in Huntsville during his senior year of college.

While at SHSU, Mandola was an on-air personality for the campus radio station, an experience that he said eased his later transition to co-hosting the TV cooking series “Cucina Amore,” “Cucina Sicilia” and “Cucina Toscana” on PBS. “[Mandola] left the discipline, so to speak, and used the skills he learned in communication to excel in the restaurant industry,” said Dr. Ronald Shields, Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication. The numerous restaurant ventures spearheaded by Mandola include Damian’s

Cucina Italiana, Mandola’s Italian Market and Carrabba’s Italian Grill, which he cofounded with his nephew Johnny in 1986. The self-taught chef said his passion for cooking contributed heavily to his success and encouraged college students to discover what they enjoy doing and pursue it. “You’ve got to find what really gets you out of bed in the morning and excites you,” Mandola advised. “Find what you love, and do it with all your heart, and you’ll be successful.” —Colin Harris

“[F]or me, to throw Bearkat events for Bearkats is a wonderful feeling,” Hughes said. “I fall in love with the university over and over again through bringing everyone together and networking.” Her projects range from casual tailgate festivities to grand VIP celebrations. “I handle all alumni events, A to Z,” said Hughes, whose responsibilities include marketing and sponsorship duties. She said her job becomes chaotic when she has to juggle the planning of eight to 13 events at one time.

This year’s gala – a black-tie dinner and award ceremony that took Hughes and her team months of preparation -- was a success despite a few last-minute changes, she said. Director of Alumni Relations Charlie Vienne said Hughes “always has a smile on her face” and “definitely brings positive energy ... and creativity to her work.” “The events she coordinates are always first class, elegant and leave attendees with a sense of pride and enthusiasm for Sam Houston State University,” Vienne said.

Hughes, a former member of Priority One, encouraged students looking for jobs in PR to strengthen their writing skills. “People are going to read your emails, they are going to read your press releases,” Hughes said. “If you’re not a good writer, then people aren’t going to respect you.” “Writing is important,” she added. “I don’t write that much, but when I do my words represent the entire alumni association, so my words mean a lot.” --Parbattee Maharaj


16 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013




15 deaths and numerous injuries, in addition to destroying buildings and other a Killeen, Texas, apartment fire property in the tiny Texas town. with three fatalities. The rookie reporter “[This] type of story is why you get was on site from midnight until 6 a.m. into the business,” he said. That night Bontke ended up working following the story and found he could not sleep when he got home due to the 21 hours straight to cover the unfolding story. He said he realized the business of adrenaline of covering breaking news. “If you can’t be up in the wee hours reporting meant at times “[he] was putting of the morning and you’re not exhilarated [his] life on the line” and that the toll of the because of this, then you’re not cut out for hours spent on the job “separates the men this job,” he said. “I’m lucky I found the job from the boys.” Bontke said he got threats of arrest exhilarating.” Now a reporter for KCEN-HD News, from police for “harassing” the public and Bontke graduated from Sam Houston praise from his boss for his efforts. “Jordan has proven to be a minor force State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication in May 2012. of nature!” KCEN-HD News Director Jim Within weeks, he “hit the ground running” Holland said. “He’s tireless, committed, at the NBC News affiliate in Temple, and always delivers on his stories.” Texas, putting his newly minted degree in As a “one-man band” for KCEN-HD, Bontke works as a lone reporter who broadcast journalism to work. Less than a year later, Bontke covered carries a video camera and shoots, edits the deadly fertilizer plant explosion in and writes his own material. nearby West on April 17, 2013. The tragedy, He sharpened his skills as a jack-ofwhich received national attention, caused all-trades at Channel 16, a public-access station in Fort Bend County, LEFT / ABOVE Jordan Bontke reports on the aftermath of the during his April 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, for KCEN-HD. junior year of college. His “really strenuous, tight schedule” required that Bontke wake up early to drive to southwest Houston and work for three hours before driving back to Huntsville for classes.

CEN-HD reporter Jordan Bontke’s first live shot was from

Part of Bontke’s job for Channel 16 was to shoot footage on the weekends, write and edit the stories on Mondays and finalize the news packages on Wednesdays so he could anchor on Fridays against a green screen. Bontke left Channel 16 after his junior year to intern for CBS’s KHOU Channel 11 in Houston his senior year. He operated the teleprompter for “KHOU News This Morning” and remembers spilling coffee during the three-hour program and having to clean it up with his feet in order to keep up with the live broadcast. At KHOU, Bontke also went into the field with daytime reporters, whom he called “the cream of the crop.” He said working with these major-market reporters provided a huge learning opportunity for an intern. He recalled that Gabe Gutierrez, a former KHOU reporter who now works for NBC National News, took him to lunch and shared tips on reporting technique. While at SHSU, Bontke was a DJ for the KAT 90.5 radio station before moving to Channel 7. He worked on the production side as a camera operator and technical director and eventually began anchoring Channel 7 News. “It’s good to do everything just because you have a good idea of what other jobs there [are] in TV,” Bontke said. In addition to his involvement in student media and his TV jobs offcampus, Bontke was a resident advisor for university housing. He also provided one of the voiceovers SHSU uses to occupy phone callers placed on hold with the university. MCOM majors need to be active during college so they can show prospective employers they have the skills needed for a job, Bontke said. He also >>


KCEN reporter Jordan Bontke, Class of 2012, was buying groceries when he received a text about the explosion in West, Texas. While still wearing his SHSU Mass Communication T-shirt, he rushed to the Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco to interview victims, witnesses and responders. LEFT Bontke traveled to Los Angeles to cover Holly Tucker’s journey on NBC’s “The Voice.” BELOW Bontke reports from West, Texas. All photos provided by Bontke.

advised MCOM students to pay attention to assistant clinical professor Mel Strait’s “emphasis on time management.” “Be your own self-motivator,” he said, adding that SHSU offers resources that students need to prepare themselves for life after graduation. “Get as much handson experience as you can!” When starting out in the industry, Bontke recommended that young journalists adopt a “can-do” approach to their assignments. “It’s just going out and having a good attitude, being able to learn things quickly, never saying ‘No, I don’t want to do that,’” he said. As a journalist, Bontke enjoys the challenge of investigative stories that turn him into a detective of sorts, searching for leads to more information. He said the question of “What’s in it for the viewer?” has been a guiding force in his reporting. His favorite pieces, however, are human-interest stories that strike a - Gabe Gutierrez, personal chord with his audience. Bontke’s NBC News Correspondent, follow-up coverage in West noted the former KHOU reporter milestones reached in the recovery from the explosion. His “feel-good” stories focused on people who were getting their lives and homes back in order and how the community came together to speed up the rebuilding of the town.

“Jordan’s curiosity seemed endless. He probably asked more questions than any other intern I can remember. But the questions were always smart and often taught ME something. That’s why I know he’ll be a great reporter.”

18 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013

Bontke strives for a “really impactful human interest story every week,” and he aspires to travel across the country or world as a reporter. “Even though Jordan’s a rookie, he’s already been sent on significant road trips, including Los Angeles to cover Holly Tucker on NBC’s ‘The Voice’,” Holland said. “We’re also thinking of sending him to Afghanistan to cover local troops deployed there.” Closer to home, Bontke’s stories continue to make an impact in the KCENHD community. A recent story centered on a central Texas couple whose wedding plans were ruined because the October 2013 federal government shutdown closed the park that was to serve as their wedding location. The day after the package aired, Bontke received phone calls from compassionate, concerned KCEN-HD viewers who eagerly offered their local business venues for free to the couple in distress. He said he felt happiness knowing that his story played some part in making an unfortunate situation better. “Jordan’s greatest attribute is his ability to interact with people,” Holland said. “They love him and tell us so. We now refer to that as being “Bontke’d!” —Matthew Trader

ABOVE Tracy Lau at the offices of the Alief Independent School District. Photo provided by Lau



hen Tracy Lau earned her college diploma, she went right back to the school district that paved her way to college in the first place. Lau currently holds the title of Web Specialist for the Alief Independent School District, where she handles news, announcements and other public relations responsibilities. In addition to website management, her job includes interviewing, writing, editing and photography – skills she honed as a MCOM major at SHSU. Alief ISD public relations specialist Craig Eichhorn, APR, described Lau as “a joy to work with” and “a professional in every sense of the word.” “She lives, breathes, eats and sleeps Alief ISD and never hesitates to go the extra mile to complete her projects,” he said. “She is very well-prepared to handle any situation that comes her way.” Lau earned a Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude and with highest honors in May 2012. A double major in political science and mass communication with emphasis in print journalism, she also minored in geology and was a member of the Eliot T. Bowers Honors College. While at Sam, Lau worked as an intern in Alief’s communications department.

This led to a part-time job until graduation and an offer to join the team full-time. Lau said she always knew journalism would be her pathway. Sometimes she works nights, weekends and holidays, but the trade-offs of working in the public sector over private industry were worth it. “Once you find something that is really rewarding, the payoff doesn’t matter as much” Lau said. “It’s a lot of work, [but] it’s about having passion and really loving your job.” Lau most enjoys interacting with Alief students and values the opportunity to get help and support from some of the same teachers she had while growing up. A similar connection to SHSU exists for Lau, who said she can still contact her professors and ask for career advice, “My favorite thing about Sam was how well I was able to interact with the professors and how personable they are,” she said. Assistant professor Dr. Robin Johnson remembered Lau as “very knowledgeable about computers” and one of the few MCOM 4365 Online Journalism students who coded their own multimedia projects. “She knew the programs that we learned, and if she didn’t, she picked them up very easily,” Dr. Johnson said.

College is a great time for students to figure out their interests and what works best for them, Lau said. “Knowing your strengths will help you.” Regardless of specialization, MCOM students are prepared for options in the communications field, Warner Chair of Journalism Peter Roussel said. “Tracy Lau specialized in the journalism track, yet today fulfills a position that emphasizes public relations skills,” Roussel said of his former student. Lau strongly advised MCOM students is to work on time management, a lesson she had to learn at Sam. “I was good at cramming and I worked best under deadlines… the typical print journalist thing,” she said. Lau also suggested that students use their phones to squeeze at least five minutes of news into their day, while standing in line or on a lunch break, to keep up with what is going on in the world. A former freelance writer for The Huntsville Item’s monthly Itz! magazine, Lau encourages MCOM students to challenge themselves and take advantage of opportunities available in college. “If you’re still young, you can afford to lose some time and sleep,” she said. —Katherine Oliver


RIGHT/BELOW Telemundo’s Kiana Rios reports. Photos provided by Rios




he long line of potential Channel 7 news anchors was intimidating, and Kiana Rios was not prepared. In fact, Rios did not learn about the tryouts until shortly before joining the line of hopefuls at the studio, thanks to the encouragement of a friend. “I was in jeans, and everyone else had on nice clothes,” she recalled. “My hair was in a ponytail, and I had no makeup on.” Rios nailed the audition and landed the job of news anchor for “Noticias de Español” Channel 7’s Spanish news program, laying the foundation for her career in broadcast journalism. “Kiana was fantastic at Spanish news,” said LeeAn Muns, SHSU’s broadcast operations general manager. “She was instrumental in working with the Spanish newscast as both weather and anchor.” Today Rios is a reporter and weather anchor for Telemundo Austin, a division of NBC Universal. She knew from an early age that she wanted to pursue a career in media, but when Rios moved to Texas at age 18 from Puerto Rico, she did not speak English. She learned quickly, attending Lone Star College before transferring to SHSU. Rios graduated from Sam Houston State University in May 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Mass Communication with emphasis in Broadcast Journalism. While working for the Spanish news, Rios produced weekly packages, gathered footage, conducted interviews, filmed stand-ups, wrote scripts and edited video.

“My friends were like, ‘Let’s go party,” but I was like, ‘No, I have to focus on my schoolwork and my news show,” Rios said. “I really loved what I was doing. Because I focused so hard during school, all these opportunities began to come.” Because of her hands-on experience at Channel 7, Rios was able to secure a summer internship at Univision 45 in Houston. She produced news packages at the Spanish-language network before advancing to supervise social media and edit commercials for the station. Telemundo hired Rios out of college, but the network initially wanted a veteran reporter. Rios said she was honest and straightforward in the interview. “You’re asking for three years of experience, but I can do it all,” she remembered telling her future employer. “I want to grow and improve my skills.” Telemundo offered Rios a reporting job in Midland, Texas, where she began her professional news career in fall 2012. She jumped into live reporting and also produced news packages that utitlized her skills in front of and behind the camera. On Oct. 1, 2013, exactly one year from her first day at Telemundo Midland, Rios joined Telemundo Austin. She now covers news and weather for the capital city. “I have a responsibility to the viewers to provide information about their community,” Rios said. “By reporting these stories, I help them and in a way act as their voice ... to expose pressing issues.” Telemundo viewers have recognized and approached Rios to thank her for being

20 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013

a part of their daily routine and reporting information they would otherwise not get. “These people allow me into their homes every day and depend on me to tell them what’s going on,” Rios said. “[Y]ou make a connection with them even if they don’t personally know you.” Rios aspires to report news on a national level but knows that years of hard work lie ahead to achieve that goal. “I’m here to learn,” she said. “Even when you’re an expert, there is still more that you can learn. I’m willing to learn every day.” Her plans include starting work on a master’s degree next year. “I hope one day after I’m done reporting, I can ultimately go back to Sam Houston and possibly teach mass communication,” Rios said. “Sam Houston is a wonderful place and is like a family that helped lead me to where I am today.” —Dharmesh Patel




rom when he was young, Zach Birdsong knew he was destined to be a sports reporter. “It’s what I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “Ever since I was little, I would pick up a newspaper and turn it to the sports section and read everything.” Now, a year out of college, Birdsong is living his dream and doing what he loves in the city of Tullahoma, Tenn. where he is the sports editor for The Tullahoma News. “I honestly couldn’t see myself doing anything else,” he said. Birdsong, a former sports editor for The Houstonian, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication with emphasis in Print Journalism from SHSU in May 2012. After living in Houston for most of his life, Birdsong wanted a change from Texas and looked online for a job in the surrounding states. Someone just hired by a newspaper in Manchester, Tenn., suggested he try The Tullahoma News. Birdsong e-mailed editor Susan Campbell, who interviewed him by Skype. A few days later, she offered him the job. Campbell had “no apprehension” about Birdsong. “You have to love sports to be a sports guy – number one,” she said. “He [knew] print journalism and AP style. He writes, and he’s been able to do photography. That’s what we wanted to hire.”

Birdsong was excited about the job but anxious about the move to a new state. “I didn’t know anybody here so I was really nervous,” he said. As the sole sports writer for the newspaper, Birdsong ‘s first few weeks on the job were stressful. He said the hardest part was re-learning how to lay out pages with Adobe InDesign. “I could go out and write the stories … but learning the software again was a complete overhaul,” Birdsong said. He also picked up a new skill. “With the state of the newspaper industry, a lot of reporters have to do their own photography ... so that is one thing I had to get into,” Birdsong said. “Photography is not an easy thing to do sporting-wise,” he said. “I’m just now starting to get the grasp of it.” His typical work week is busy as Birdsong usually only gets Sundays and the occasional Monday off. The Tullahoma News publishes on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, so on the days prior, he pulls the stories and pages together. Tuesdays, Thursdays and some Mondays run late, as he covers games, mostly high school sports, and other athletic events. Campbell said Birdsong was able to hit the ground running at the paper. “He’s doing a great job and done a lot of things to bring a fresh eye to the sports

ABOVE Zach Birdsong on assignment for The Tullahoma News. Left photo by Andrea Agardy Right photo by Tim Lampkin

department,” she said. “He’s covering things that weren’t covered before.” Tullahoma is close to Manchester, the location of the Bonnaroo Music Festival. Birdsong proposed reporting on the first annual Roo Run, a Bonnaroo-sponsored 5K race, for his section. “He did a story on something that we never had covered in sports,” Campbell said. “It was really unique, something different, instead of just about the musicians.” Birdsong’s advice to MCOM majors is “keep working on writing, keep improving” and learn photography because “it’s just beneficial down the road.” He said he would not be where he is today without what he learned at SHSU. “I just can’t thank the university enough for providing me with the opportunity to get the education and just for the experiences I had while attending Sam Houston University,” Birdsong said. He also credited his former paper for preparing him for his professional career. “The training I got at The Houstonian --I can’t even put it into words how beneficial that was getting to cover every sport,” Birdsong said. “I would recommend getting involved with The Houstonian,” he added. “It’s a tremendous opportunity.” —JP McBride




et-setting students from SHSU ditched Huntsville for the glitz and glamour of the French Riviera this past spring, embarking upon an A-list, study-abroad adventure at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. For two event-packed weeks in May, 16 Sam students networked with movie industry insiders and enjoyed insider access at the world’s most famous film festival. “Unforgettable,” “mind-blowing” and “a defining experience” were some of the words the participants from SHSU used to describe their “trip of a lifetime.” In addition to rubbing elbows with celebrities and gracing the red carpet at film premieres in France, the students worked behind the scenes to

earn advanced elective credits through associate professor Tom Garrett’s MCOM 4399 Festival de Cannes Directed Study course. The “Film and Media Producing and Promotion in the International Market” minimester class provided hands-on internships for students interested in learning the real business of show business on an “out of country” campus. “[They] worked for companies like Lionsgate, Fox Searchlight, the Weinstein Company,” Garrett said. “Our students were office assistants within these suites.” While in Cannes, the SHSU interns did not do typical grunt work like getting food and coffee for VIPs. Instead, they helped with the coordination and

22 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013

execution of various professional events, including parties, workshops and press conferences. Garrett said he tried to tailor this year’s Cannes experience to every participant individually. He asked about the interests of each student and catered assignments to his or her specific career aspirations. With 25 years of experience in movies, the film festival veteran said he is able to find the best possible options. “A student might have desires of working in the UK after they graduate, so I try to pair [him or her] with a company that will help that,” Garrett said. Garrett explained that the studyabroad program granted students the enviable chance to be “flies on the wall,”

The MCOM film track’s first study-abroad program sent SHSU students to experience the 2013 Cannes Film Festival in France. Photo courtesy of Tom Garrett.

allowing them to see how the world of filmmaking worked on the business side. Junior Cheznay Dones [F] served as an intern for Nu Image/ Millennium Films, planning parties alongside some big names. “Not only [did I] work with the industry’s most notable people, I got to intern for celebrities such as Ahna O’Reilly, Tim Blake Nelson, and James Franco,” Jones said. Four SHSU students saw their own short films make their international debut at the festival. Junior Jonathan Kinsey [F] spent an entire semester producing, shooting, and editing his film with help from the music, theatre and dance departments at SHSU. He described the experience of showing “Illumenate” at Cannes as “awesome” and “life-changing.” In addition to screening his short, Kinsey also gained hands-on experience working for influential people in the film industry. “I was given the opportunity to intern for Mike Nichols with AbelCine, one on the largest international and domestic production equipment sales and

rental companies in the world,” Kinsey said. “During my internship, I helped him prepare rentals for “Saturday Night Live,” a Chris Rock feature film, and several other mid-range budget productions.” Although most participants are in MCOM, SHSU’s Cannes Film Festival Study Abroad Program is open to all SHSU students regardless of major. During the 15-day internship, students attend daily workshops, business and film market symposiums, networking meet-ups, red-carpet competition screenings and critique sessions for film submissions.

Prior to the internship, participants complete a four-week online preparation class. Upon arrival in France, they attend a four-day festival orientation, complete with a tour of the city of Cannes. Students who attended the 2013 Cannes Film Festival shared their journals and photos on MCOM’s film program’s Facebook page and the Today at Sam website on —Holland Behn

LEFT Holland Nixon and Jonathan Kinsey on the red carpet. Photo courtesy of Garrett. RIGHT Actor James Franco with Cheznay Dones. Photo courtesy of Dones.


Chet Flippo in his office at Rolling Stone in New York City, late 1970s. Photo provided by Ernie Flippo

24 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013


Chet Flippo Class of 1965

“One of the greatest bylines in the history of music journalism” - Cameron Crowe, Writer/Director of “Almost Famous”


early 50 years ago, Chester “Chet” Flippo Jr. was a journalism major at Sam Houston State Teachers College, facing graduation and pondering his future. “His work was exceptional,” recalled one of Flippo’s professors, Leon Hale, almost five decades later. “Twenty-five kids in a class, you always have two or three exceptional ones. He could write. He understood the process.” Hale remembered having a “counseling session” with the aspiring writer, who was “trying to figure what he’s going to do with his life.” “I gave him a suggestion, kind of a ridiculous one, one that I had planned for myself years ago when I was getting out of school,” said Hale, who went on to author 11 books and write a human-interest column for the Houston Chronicle and the Houston Post for 60-plus years. “I knew that Flippo was shrewd enough to do it, if it appealed to him.”

“If he couldn’t find anything else he wanted to pursue, he might borrow some money and buy himself a weekly paper,” Hale recounted. “With as smart as he was, he could make it pay. He was a hard worker.” “[A]long with the banker … and the doctor and a couple of lawyers, he could become one of the power brokers of the small town, acquire a little land and even make some money,” Hale advised Flippo. “He probably thought it was the stupidest thing he had ever heard,” said Hale, who saw his student’s byline on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine a few years later. Flippo’s rollicking ride as a music critic, chronicler and commentator included extended layovers at some of the top destinations in American media: Rolling Stone, Billboard and ultimately, Country Music Television (CMT). At the time of his death in Nashville, Tenn., on June 19, 2013, Flippo was the editorial director of CMT and, >>


Flippo working on Oakhurst Elementary School’s newspaper, circa 1950. Photo provided by Ernie Flippo

“Hey,” Jagger called after a not entirely successful version of “You Got to Move,” “this is the first show of our tour. We want to find out what we do good and what we’re doing terrible, so we’ll do a whole lot more.” The announcement was met with cheers and it was not at all a bad show; merely a show where the band was still finding its way. And after the second Baton Rouge set ended, Richards triumphantly holding his Fender overhead, the Stones were virtually whole again. Not since 1969 had they been such a metallic guitar band with such a forceful, if erratic, sound. In the space of 24 hours in Baton Rouge, they’d rehearsed for six hours, played two two-hourplus sets and left the stage sounding stronger than when they first walked on to it. No matter that they have been around for a dozen years. No matter that Charlie Watts looks like an old man — he doesn’t play like it. No matter that Bill Wyman may still tap his foot only once during a show. No matter that they do not have a hit single every month: They are, after all, the Rolling Stones and that stands for a great deal. Excerpted from “The Rolling Stones’ 1975 Tour: Baptized in Baton Rouge, Castrated in San Antone,” by Chet Flippo, Rolling Stone, July 17, 1975

the last chapter in a long, legendary career in music journalism. Numerous sources credit the Texanturned-Tennessean with championing country music during Rolling Stone magazine’s formative years and ultimately legitimatizing the genre in both alternative and mainstream American culture. “Chet was a fierce advocate for country music long before country was cool,” CMT President Brian Philips said in a statement on “Chet articulated the virtues and joys of country music with a passion and intelligence that helped make the genre respectable even among snobs and city slickers.” Born on Oct. 21, 1943, in Fort Worth, Texas, Flippo harbored a lifelong love of music. In 1951, he accompanied his parents to see Hank Williams play, a story he would share with his Billboard colleagues during trivia night. As a boy, Flippo used a mimeograph machine to publish a newspaper for his grade school, the first step in a journalism

26 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013

career that would evolve as news media did -- through print, broadcast and the Internet -- and land him six decades later at the helm of a website. After graduating from Sam in 1965, Flippo served in the U.S. Navy as a codebreaker during the Vietnam War, with tours in Morocco and Hawaii. While at sea, Flippo discovered a music magazine that launched in 1967 and began charting his course for a future in music writing. After four years of military service, Flippo’s storied career did get its start in a small Texas town. He worked as a reporter for a newspaper in Palestine but soon began wrangling freelance assignments for larger publications. Ernie Flippo said his older brother, who still believed his destiny was at Rolling Stone, wrote letters to the editor proposing that he cover the regional music scene as a stringer for the publication. The magazine gave Flippo a chance, and his earliest Rolling Stone assignments bore Texas datelines, including a 1970 story

on Janis Joplin’s 10th high school reunion in Port Arthur. His first Rolling Stone cover story was on Doug Sahm, a pioneer of Tejano music from San Antonio, in 1971. Flippo contributed regularly to Rolling Stone while in graduate school for journalism at the University of Texas in Austin, producing some of the earliest national coverage of the Austin music scene. Before completing his thesis on the rise of rock journalism, he eloped to Mexico with classmate Martha Hume, who would become his wife of 41 years and a music journalist in her own right. In 1974, Flippo earned a master’s degree in journalism from UT and that same year became Rolling Stone’s New York bureau chief when the magazine was still based in San Francisco, Calif. He was named senior editor when the magazine moved operations to New York in 1977. “[Flippo] wrote literally hundreds of articles, interviews and record reviews,” Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner said in an article on “[H]e was our resident country music expert for most of those years, but he was equally at home writing about rock or the music industry.” In addition to detailing the escapades of the Rolling Stones from 1975-1980, Flippo wrote career-changing, longform interview profiles of Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings and Tanya Tucker. He famously insisted upon not censoring a quoted expletive from his cover story of squeaky-clean musician John Denver and wrote a controversial article about John Lennon’s legal battles. Flippo’s insider-access reportage included articles on record label executives Clive Davis and Seymour Stein and a visit to the movie set of 1973’s “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” in Mexico, where he interviewed Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson and Sam Peckinpah. His story about George Romero resulted in Flippo scoring a bit part in the director’s 1978 horror classic “Dawn of the Dead,” as a zombie. “[Flippo] was part of the golden era that produced Hunter [S. Thompson], Tim Crouse, Tom Wolfe, Howard Kohn, Cameron Crowe, et al.,” Wenner said. “Those were his brothers at RS.” Flippo left Rolling Stone in the early 1980s, moved to Tennessee and authored the first of seven books about music. >>

It was a rowdy crowd [in San Antonio], perfect for the Stones and, if there is still magic in rock & roll, it was there the night of June 4th as the lights went down and “Fanfare” came up and the people in the first 20 rows surged against the plywood fence. The cry was deafening when the ten Super Trouper arc lights around the hall stabbed through the darkness to pinion Jagger and Richards in a blinding white circle at a tip of the star. In the lighting box, Jules Fisher, who was imported from Broadway to do the Stones’ lights, pointed proudly at his work. Seen from on high, the stage was spectacular — a delicately lit flower that seemed to be suspended and surrounded by what resembled a sea of waving eels which were, of course, arms held overhead and clapping….

The houselights came up as Richards led the group into a slashing, brutal “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and even a few of the cops could not resist moving in time to that savage syncopation. Jagger finished it off grandly by dumping buckets of ice into the crowd and then standing stock-still, one fist raised high. As one of the finer moments in rock history, it was unmatched — until two nights later in Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium when “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” became an awesome guitar duel between Wood and Richards before 53,231 paying customers. The crowd booed for a full two minutes when they realized there would be no encore. from “The Rolling Stones’ 1975 Tour: Baptized in Baton Rouge, Castrated in San Antone,” by Chet Flippo, RS, July 17, 1975

While at Sam Houston State in the early 1960s, Flippo was on the Alcalde yearbook staff and in Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Photo provided by Ernie Flippo


My cab is cruising through the winding entrance of the Harbour Castle Hilton in Toronto, temporary home for the Rolling Stones, and I have no idea what to expect. All I know is what I’ve read (and written myself): Keith Richards has been busted again; his bust -- right here at the Harbour Castle -- happened just days after his common-law wife, Anita Pallenberg, was arrested by Mounties at the airport; and there is serious talk that the Stones have had it. I know the Stones are here to record two nights of live shows at El Mocambo Tavern to complete a live album. But now with the busts, the Stones are once again in chaos. I’d been with them before, in 1975 on their Tour of the Americas, and there had been speculation then that the end was near. I know I’ll have to face Mick Jagger with what has become a tired question: could this be the last time? Perhaps for the first time, he’ll have to give the question serious thought, and an answer. But first there was the Stones hierarchy: aides, attorneys, security, and the two men I would run up against most frequently in Toronto: Paul Wasserman, number one among rock & roll press agents (the Who, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Linda Ronstadt, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Neil Diamond), who is often paid to keep his clients out of the press. And manager Peter Rudge, formerly American manager of the Who, currently manager of Lynyrd Skynyrd, a dapper but hyper Briton, well-known for pulling the unexpected. Rudge has been trying to keep the activities of the Rolling Stones in Toronto a secret. God only knows what will happen when he learns that I’m here. from “Keith Richards Meets the Mounties and Faces the Music,” by Chet Flippo, RS, May 5, 1977

••• “Your last story was all fucked up,” Stones tour manager Peter Rudge was yelling at me as we suffered along in a Terminal cab en route from Dallas to Fort Worth. “How’s that?” I yelled back over the sound of the cab’s air conditioner, wheezing away in an unsuccessful attempt to

combat the 105 degree temperature. But it wasn’t the heat that had Rudge on edge. It was the usual Rolling Stones tour insanity. And it could only get worse, I realized with a sinking feeling. Stones tours have a manic quality unequaled in rock, with an ever-present current of madness that could be unleashed at any moment. The anticipation of some dark unpredictability was doubly high on this tour as show dates were added and dropped left and right. If Rudge was any barometer of the Stones’ mood — which he usually is — the band was a coiled spring. “Who said you could come on the tour anyway?” Rudge rattled on in his clipped, British tones.

from “The Rolling Stones: The Road Ain’t What It Used to Be,” by Chet Flippo, RS, Sept. 7, 1978

••• “I’m ‘fraid rock & roll has no future,” Mick Jagger said. His famous lips formed a perfect moue of distaste, as if they hated to utter such treason. Jagger was curled up on the chocolatebrown sofa in the living room of his second-floor Manhattan apartment. Golden sunbeams and raucous street sounds flooded through his open windows, and he welcomed both, jumping up to lean out the window when a reggae beat wafted in from a passing radio. “Why doesn’t it?” I asked him while opening two bottles of Löwenbräu. He turned back from the window and laughed. The flashing diamond set in his left incisor was a mark of his long years of service to rock & roll. The age lines around his eyes were as old as the weariness and cynicism in his voice. “’Cause it doesn’t,” he said flatly. “There is no future in rock & roll. It’s only recycled past.” He sounded genuinely sad. We both fell silent and stared into our beers. from “The Rolling Stones Grow Old Angrily,” by Chet Flippo, RS, Aug. 21, 1980

28 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013

He served as a journalism lecturer at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville from 1991 to 1994 before relocating to Nashville, where Flippo served as Billboard magazine’s Nashville Bureau Chief from 1995 to 2000 and the country music editor of from 2000 to 2001. In an interview with Billboard, country music star Alan Jackson said Flippo “respected the importance of real country music.” “[Flippo] had a genuine understanding of its history and a true appreciation for it,” Jackson said. “He was out there telling the world about country music long before it was the ‘cool’ thing to talk about. He told it like he saw it, and I’m glad he did.” In 2001 Flippo joined CMT. As editorial director for the network and its companion site, he interviewed artists and oversaw the music content of CMT programming, according to For a dozen years, Flippo wrote the “Nashville Skyline” column for CMT’s site, “in which he celebrated artists who would benefit from his attention and took the industry to task for crimes of trend-hopping, image manufacturing and anything that smacked to Chet of disloyalty to country’s core values,” Phillips said. “Chet was a stoic Texan, fiercely loyal and intensely private … honest to the core and widely regarded as a bit enigmatic,” Philips said. “For all, it was a terrific privilege to work with Chet Flippo.” In a CMT interview, writer/director/ producer Cameron Crowe said Flippo “mentored many and inspired all who worked with him” and shared “one of >>

OPPOSITE PAGE, LEFT Flippo in the U.S. Navy, 1960s. RIGHT Flippo interviewing Texas bluesman Freddie King, 1971. THIS PAGE Flippo with Dolly Parton, 1970s. Photos provided by Ernie Flippo. BELOW Flippo in Knoxville, 1991. Photo by Chris Berkey, Reprinted with permission from the Knoxville Journal

Books by Chet Flippo

“David Bowie’s Serious Moonlight: World Tour” (Dolphin Books/Doubleday, 1984) “Your Cheatin’ Heart: A Biography of Hank Williams” (Doubleday, 1988) “On the Road With the Rolling Stones: 20 Years of Lipstick, Handcuffs, and Chemicals” (Dolphin Books, 1985) “Yesterday: The Unauthorized Biography of Paul McCartney” (Doubleday, 1988) “It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll: My On-The-Road Adventures With The Rolling Stones” (St. Martins Press, 1989) “Graceland: The Living Legacy of Elvis Presley” (Collins Pub San Francisco, 1993) “Everybody Was Kung-Fu Dancing: Chronicles of the Lionized and the Notorious” (St. Martins Press, 1991) – an anthology of 32 pieces by Flippo on ‘70s/‘80s pop culture


ABOVE Flippo with Willie Nelson and President Jimmy Carter at the taping of “CMT Homecoming: Jimmy Carter in Plains,” 2004. Photo by Rick Diamond/ WireImage, reprinted with permission of Getty Images

the great secrets about Flippo -- all that genius just happened to reside in the heart of an unforgettably charming guy.” Crowe’s 2000 film “Almost Famous” drew from his own inthe-trenches experiences as a teen writer for Rolling Stone, where he met and worked with Flippo. The movie includes a line that namechecks “Flippo’s Who story.” In 1998 the Country Music Association bestowed Flippo with its CMA Media Achievement Award. The International Country Music Conference honored him with the Charlie Lamb Award for Excellence in Country Music Journalism in 2006. Flippo’s vast credits include penning the liner notes for 1976’s “Wanted! The Outlaws,” which

30 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013

became the first country album to sell 1 million copies. His articles, music columns and reviews appeared in media outlets such as The New York Times -- which dubbed Flippo “a dean of pop music journalism” -- New York Magazine and Texas Monthly. Flippo wrote about the CMA Festival, or “Fan Fair” for his June 6, 2013, “Nashville Skyline” column, which became his final publication. “Chet Flippo is one of the great bylines in the history of music journalism,” Crowe said. “Take a trip through the archives, find his books, read his reporting,” Crowe added. “You’ll find every color and all the soul, hilarity, pain, flavor and depth of what it is to love music.” —Stephen Green

ABOVE The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Dierks Bentley, Roseanne Cash and Bobby Bare were among the friends and family who gathered at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville on Oct. 14 to celebrate Flippo’s life and career. Photo reprinted with permission from NEAR RIGHT The program for the private memorial event included a retrospective slideshow, live music and fond remarks in remembrance of the much-admired journalist. Photo courtesy of Joe Nick Patoski FAR RIGHT From Rolling Stone magazine’s 10th anniversary issue, Dec. 15, 1977. Photo provided by Ernie Flippo PAGE 48 Flippo’s famous chili recipe, from one of his most popular “Nashville Skyline” columns, “Chili Time in America: Chili, Beer, Country Music and Football.” Reprinted with permission from Photo by Cesar Jimenez





am Houston’s legacy of heroic service to his country continues at the Dan Rather Communication Building, where several military cadets, reservists and veterans lead civilian lives as mass communication majors. For U.S. Army reservist and MCOM senior Carl Havlik [BP], the military paved his way to SHSU, in addition to fulfilling a family tradition like Sam Houston’s. “I enlisted because I needed money so that I could go back to school,” Havlik said. “My grandfather served in the Army, so I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could do it.” Havlik, an E4 Specialist in the Army, is currently in his fifth year of military service. U.S. Navy combat veteran and MCOM senior Treay Shewell [BP] said he was looking for a change when he decided to follow his buddies into the military.

“I basically went because of my friends,” Shewell said. “I was in junior college at the time, and I was getting tired of it. So I wanted to do something different.” Shewell, an OS2 Second Class Petty Officer in the United States Navy, spent four years on the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier and four years in the naval reserves in Houston. MCOM senior and military veteran Ryan Cavel [PRA] enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps after visiting every branch’s recruiting office. “I talked with the Marine recruiter -he was blunt, honest, and told me it was going to be hard, but well worth it,” Cavel said. “I signed up and never looked back.” Cavel, a Corporal E4, served in the Marine Corps for four and a half years, including a year at the Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, three and a half years at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and a 2007 tour in Iraq. Senior Ryan Leonard, an English major and MCOM minor, said he joined the U.S. Army to change his life and in response to the events of 9/11. “I was in a dead-end job, and I felt like I had a lot more to offer than working on a loading dock,” Leonard said. “The military offered me that opportunity.”


A Sergeant in the Signal Corps, Leonard served four and a half years in the Army, stationed at Fort Drum, NY, which included a yearlong deployment in Iraq. A love for writing fueled Leonard’s interest in earning his college degree and studying English and mass communication at SHSU, something that the Army has helped to make a reality. “The GI Bill is there, and you might as well use it for something that can better your life,” Leonard said. More than 800 SHSU students are military veterans -- “a small demographic, but a very interesting one in that most know what they want to do and want to get the degree to do it,” Fernando Chavez, manager of SHSU’s Veterans Resource Center, said. “Ultimately they need that degree to be successful in getting the career they want now.” “We’re not the traditional student that comes in straight out of high school,” said Chavez, who is a Navy veteran. “We’re typically 22 or older, with life experiences and training all around the world. We’re going to be different.” Shewell’s military service took him by sea to destinations around the world, including Iraq, Iran, South Korea and Hong Kong. “Being in wartime scenarios and seeing a lot of the world ... I just have a different point of view,” Shewell said. For Shewell and Havlik, who are college roommates in Huntsville, the most significant adjustment to college life was to lighten up, especially since many students “haven’t experience real life yet,” Shewell said. “[T]here’s no reason to be so wound up,” Shewall said. “[College is] just an extension

THIS PHOTO Marine veteran Ryan Cavel plays a federal agent in “Siren,” a student-produced film trailer. Photo courtesy of Monty Sloan BELOW Photo provided by Cavel OPPOSITE PAGE Photo provided by Ethan Lockhart

of high school. You’re just more prepared for getting a job.” “People are way too serious now,” Havlik said. “Life’s too short to be uptight. You’re here one day, then you step on an IED and … you’re gone in an instant.” Leonard said his life experiences can make it difficult for him to relate to his classmates. “I don’t really connect too well to the typical students -- they’re quite a bit younger than me,” he said. “It has a lot to do with youth. We have some young vets, but there’s something about … the military and deployments that make people grow up really fast.” Lessons learned in the military have carried over to school, Leonard said. “I learned really quickly in basic training that when the person in charge is talking, then just listen,” Leonard said. “So I do that in class, and ... it really irks me when people [don’t], because it’s disrespectful.” “I’m waiting for the professor to explode, but a professor’s not a drill sergeant, so they tend to get away with it,” he added.

Cavel’s Marine training taught him to be punctual when reporting for duty, a habit he said more students should adopt. “Just show up to class,” Cavel. “Be where you’re supposed to be -- and on time. That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned. It makes such a big difference.” MCOM junior Ethan Lockhart [BP] serves as a cadet in SHSU’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). Lockhart said that after taking an ROTC class, he found that he enjoyed the camaraderie and decided to join the Bearkat Battalion. For Lockhart, the ROTC has “made a big difference” on how he conducts himself as a college student. “You learn a sense of discipline,” Lockhart said. “You learn how to manage your time well. You pick up on a lot of things that can help you in your studies and classes. It’s very beneficial.” Chavez said many veterans join student organizations on campus, such as College Veterans Association (CVA) as a way to integrate into the educational environment. >>



“Ultimately what we did [in the military] is help,” Chavez said, adding that a natural transition is to find a way to become involved in serving the college community. Leonard, who currently works as the Regional Veterans Services Coordinator for Tri-County Services, learned about CVA soon after entering SHSU and was immediately drawn to join the group.

“It’s just nice to be around other vets,” said Leonard, now treasurer of CVA. “It was great to be around people who were of the same mindset.” Chavez said the U.S. Armed Forces promote the value of higher education more heavily than in decades past. “Like any other employer, they want a more educated workforce,” he said.


34 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013

Lockhart, a military science minor, plans to join the Army as an officer after he earns his college degree in May 2015. His long-term goal is to become a television or film producer after a career of military service. “I’ve always found editing interesting, so I want to be in that scenario for a while and work my way from there,” he said.


Cavel, a member of both Raven Films and SHSU’s Public Relations Student Society of America chapter, has juggled classwork with writing movie scripts and working on student-produced films, including an acting role as a federal agent. He hopes to pursue a career that combines his talents, interests and MCOM major. “I really like to write,” Cavel said, who initially wanted to work as an advertising copywriter. “The more I got in, the more I saw the PR side to it. It didn’t seem like a bad deal to me since I get to use my writing talents for both [PR and advertising].” Havlik and Shewell are both slated to graduate in December 2013 with

Bachelor of Arts degrees in mass communication. While at Sam, they added to media experience to their military resumes by working behind the scenes for Cable Channel 7 and co-hosting a weekly radio show on 90.5 The Kat. “I’d like to be a working screenwriter,” Havlik said. “But realistically, what I’d like to achieve is working for broadcast news.” Shewell aspires to lead his own crew on a movie or TV set one day. “It’s a pipe dream, but being a director would be awesome,” Shewell said. “I’ve done all the little jobs, so sitting in the big chair [sounds] pretty nice.” —Christian Vazquez

RADIO SHOW Navy veteran Treay Shewell and Army reservist Carl Havlik hosted a special Veterans Day program on their weekly radio show on 90.5 The Kat, with MCOM senior Mike Hawkins [BP] RIGHT Photos provided by Shewell and Havlik OPPOSITE PAGE Photos provided by Army veteran Ryan Leonard



Photo courtesy of Monty Sloan




tudents in MCOM’s year-old film track screened their work in downtown Huntsville for the first time on Aug. 30. The Old Town Theatre Festival at the J. Philip Gibbs, Jr. Centre for the Performing Arts featured nine short films produced, directed by and starring SHSU students. “Film is a culture,” said associate professor Tom Garrett. “We make movies, and it’s an art. We create something that ultimately comes together through a culture of watching films, talking about films, planning and doing all the strategic stuff to make something happen.” The night began with a red-carpet meet-and-greet for audience members and students involved in the production of the evening’s entertainment. “[S]tudents did everything for the festival, including promotions and planning,” said adjunct faculty Cheryl Eschenfelder, who serves on the theater’s board. “They’ve been a tremendous asset.” Organizers Garrett and junior Monty Sloan [F] were motivated to strengthen the film program’s ties to the community. “The real idea is to get our films to as wide an audience as possible,” Sloan said. “We need people to see our work.”

Senior Ryan Cavel [PRA], a gaffer for “Nine Acres,” was among the attendees. “The Old Town Theatre is a great, local venue to screen some of our work,” he said. “I wish we could use it even more often.” In 2013 the Old Town Theatre added an inaugural film season to its slate of stage and musical entertainment. Garrett discussed the idea of a student film showcase with Eschenfelder, to provide an opportunity for student-filmmakers to expand their audience off campus. “Having events in town draws people who don’t go to the university on a regular basis,” Eschenfelder said. “It enables us to bridge the gap and bring residents out to see what the students are doing without having to go up the hill to campus. The community has a chance to connect with the university in a way it hasn’t before.” Garrett said outreach is crucial when the program is “insulated” on campus. “[O]ur agenda … was to let the community know what we’re doing, so that when other projects are being done and we want to ask for locations ... we have some street cred,” he said. Sloan said screening films for the public provides an invaluable resource for film students: the outsider’s perspective.

36 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013

“It’s partly about exposure and saying ‘we’re here and we’re making films,’ but it’s also a chance for our stuff to be viewed, and for us, as students, to grow from that,” he said. “Comments from people who aren’t involved in making films will help us refine our craft.” The event also functioned as a recruiting tool for at least one student interested in studying film at SHSU. “[This prospective student] was able to go to that event and see the stuff that our school was already doing,” Sloan said. “Even though we’re new, he got a chance to see the level of quality of what we were already producing.” Film students learn technical aspects of movie production through coursework, but community partnerships like the Old Town Theatre Festival provide them the opportunity to develop another skill set necessary for success in the film industry. “They call it show business for a reason,” Garrett said. “There’s an entrepreneurial spirit that a filmmaker has to have, because producing a movie is about 3 percent art, and the other 97 percent is hustle, organization and getting the word out there for people to see it.” —Colin Harris

Reprinted with permission from AP

McLaughlin flips the script

Screenwriter starts new chapter at SHSU


n intrepid group of MCOM students signed up for John McLaughlin’s May 2013 minimester class, eager to learn from the screenwriter whose credits include films “Black Swan,” “Hitchcock,” “Parker” and “Man of the House.” Taught online by New York City-based McLaughlin, MCOM 3375 Scriptwriting provided a rare insider’s perspective on a highly competitive field. “Right off the bat, it was an interesting class,” said junior Kessler McLaughlin [MJ], who is not related to the writer. “It absolutely made a difference that he was a critically acclaimed screenwriter.” John McLaughlin took on the class at the suggestion of MCOM department chair Dr. Jean Bodon and associate professor Tom Garrett. “John and I go back to 1988,” Dr. Bodon said. “We made a movie together. I was the producer, [Garrett] was the director, and John McLaughlin was the writer.” Dr. Bodon said he asked his friend to teach because students who want to work in Hollywood should learn from people who have made major motion pictures. “It is very important to know how they think, how they construct a story, how they direct because they are the best in the field,” Dr. Bodon said. “Students should learn from the very best in the field.” A valuable thing for people interested in screenwriting is to meet a screenwriter, said McLaughlin, adding, “It’s great to have access to people that do what you would like to do.”

McLaughlin said he shared a realistic view of a writing career with his students. “What I can offer is what I deal with every day, which is people telling me, ‘We’re looking for this or we would like this more if this was in it,” McLaughlin said. “That is something people who have not worked in the industry are not going to understand, no matter how many books they read.” “I was able to explain to the students that the finished screenplay is not always what ends up on film, because you go through so many drafts,” he added. One of the assignments was to write the first 20 pages of a script, or one act. Kessler admitted that submitting his work to a professional writer intimidated him at first. McLaughlin surprised him by e-mailing that he did have comments but to feel free not to look at them. “[He said] ‘I want you to continue writing this screenplay and submit the finished product to me because I can see potential in it,’” Kessler said, noting the feedback came from “someone who actually produced a working script and turned it into a working motion picture.” “Even if my screenplay does not get published, the comments that he can provide for character and story development are invaluable,” he said. The MCOM 3375 students impressed McLaughlin in the two-week minimester. “People really worked hard and wrote stuff – and wrote it very quickly,” he said. “Mostly it was just me communicating

with them, telling them what I think and what they need to concentrate on.” McLaughlin continues to be a resource for some of the writers in his class. “I still have students completing plays that I am communicating with,” he said The accelerated schedule and the online component were critical in allowing McLaughlin to teach for SHSU. “I am always working on five or six different jobs at one time,” he said. “Luckily it all worked out.” Dr. Bodon said he plans to recruit more industry insiders to guest-lecture and teach for the department, adding that “students want professors [who] really have something special to offer.” McLaughlin first visited SHSU in fall 2011, when he hosted a campus screening of “Black Swan” and encountered MCOM students excited to learn more about scriptwriting. “[T]here is an elitism in the whole film business, and I really think that you can live in east Texas and write stuff better than most of the stuff that we see,” he said. “I don’t see why people there shouldn’t have the same opportunities.” McLaughlin, a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, currently holds the title of Distinguished Scholar in the MCOM department. “Everyone I have met at Sam Houston has been really nice – the kids and the faculty,” he said. “It is a lovely school, and I am proud to be associated with it.” —Christopher Young

John McLaughlin’s nickname is “Dynamite,” according to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB). “Someone put that in, and I was told about it a year ago,” McLaughlin said. “At one point, they were going to take it down because it’s not really true. I said, ‘Leave it. That’s a great nickname.’”



Makeover The Mass Communication program concentrates on the future of media


year after introducing a slate of revamped emphases and two years after joining the College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication, MCOM’s four concentration coordinators said that the department has strengthened its mission to prepare its students for the future of media. The MCOM department has had to change to keep up with a changing world, said professor Janet Bridges, Ph.D. “The department has moved from one college to another, has added several new academic areas and has reoriented some of the existing majors to meet the needs of changing world of mass communication,” Dr. Bridges said. “This seems like positive growth to me.” Under the new program of study, the MCOM major at SHSU comprises four distinct specializations: • PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING, headed by Dr. Bridges • MULTIPLATFORM JOURNALISM, headed by assistant professor Robin Johnson, Ph.D. • BROADCAST PRODUCTION, headed by clinical assistant professor Mel Strait • FILM, headed by associate professor Tom Garrett

Some of the most significant changes to the MCOM major include the addition of the Film track and the merger of print and broadcast journalism into one allinclusive track. Dr. Johnson said creating a Multiplatform Journalism concentration was necessary due to both the evolving field of journalism as well as students’ decreased interest in print journalism. “We decided to combine print and broadcast because the numbers of students in print were not as large as they used to be,” Dr. Johnson said. “There is a decline in the need for print journalists so we looked around and asked a bunch of people in the industry what they were looking for,” Dr. Johnson added. “They said they wanted employees with a variety of skills with a core in journalism, so we changed our program to meet that demand.” Having a variety of skill sets is very beneficial in the journalism field, Dr. Johnson said. “Employers want somebody who can write,” he said. “They want a print journalist first and foremost, but they also want that person to have the ability to shoot videos as well.”

38 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013

Prior to 2012, SHSU had no film program. A year after its introduction, the Film emphasis has become one of the fast-growing concentrations in the department. “I’m really excited about the outcomes I’m just starting to see now,” Garrett said. “I am very grateful that the Raven Film group existed when I showed up – that was a great foundation. Over the past year, I’ve seen the culture start to get some traction. There’s no question the students will put the program on the map.” As with other MCOM areas, Garrett said he, too, has seen changes in the film industry. “The challenge with starting a program, especially film, is having the equipment and tools to expose students to the field,” Garrett said. “For the last five years, the industry has become such a hybrid. Because of technology, it was nothing like it is today.” “We used to have to plan everything and do story boards because everything had a price tag on it, but today it’s much easier,” he added. “It’s more art-based than vocational.” >>





MCOM sophomore [MP] Lemmis Stephens III and assistant academic advisor Edgard Sanchez meet at the SAM Center. Photo by Kaleigh Treiber


Students can easily combine other interests with a film concentration, Garrett suggested. “Do the thing that you have a passion about and you can learn the technique of film to combine those things,” he said. “It’s an art but it’s also a business. You need to learn and understand that.” “I’ve never known anyone to get out of school with a film degree and just get a job,” Garrett added. “[W]here you intern at and where you volunteer at is important. You get a reputation real quick.” Strait said the mass communication department’s “tradition is with broadcast production and broadcast journalism,” despite the recent overhaul to SHSU’s MCOM program. Although the Broadcast Production emphasis is the only concentration that has retained its original name, Strait said the specialization has also transformed over the years in the “real” world, and, as a result, in the education world. “Job opportunities are not what they once were, but there are still conventional television positions to be had, as well as jobs that require the same skill sets in areas connected to social media and a variety of educational environments that didn’t even exist 20 years ago,” Strait explained. With any profession and field of study, Garrett said if students follow their hearts, everything will fall into place. “Find something you love to do,” he advised. “Go wherever you have to go and while you’re doing it, help somebody else out…. Go where your passion is, do what you want to do and the rest will come.” While much the world may be changing in terms of technological advancements, Dr. Johnson said there is no better time than the present to be a part of mass communication. “This is the most exciting time in history to be a journalist,” he said. “There are so many options —blogging, broadcast, print—it’s literally an environment where you can invent yourself.” Dr. Johnson encouraged MCOM majors to take advantage of the growing opportunities available to them. “[G]o out and do,” he advised. “Learn in class what you can, be out there, engage with social media, write, and get out there and do stuff.” —Hannah Zedaker

40 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013

MCOM students discuss their new concentrations

Brittany Gallaher [BP]

Timothy Thompson Jr. [F]

“I get to learn about film but also all the other aspects: writing, TV, radio.”

“I love music, and I love entertaining, and I want to make [them] visual.”

Shanice Jones [PRA]

Riata Robledo [F]

“I eventually want to be a publicist and ... an event planner.”

“I want to be a female Quentin Tarantino.”

Ryan Bates [MP]

Brittany Glaze [MP]

“I like to write, and I like talking to people, so this is a good fit for me.”

“There are more opportunities ... to get a job with this kind of degree.”

Khoi Nguyen [F]

Jacob Traylor [BP]

“I chose to be a filmmaker because I wanted to live out a different life ... a mad scientist, a rogue NSA agent or a hopeless romantic searching for the love of his life -- and for that 90 minutes, I want to let others feel what I feel.”

“I’m interested in working on radio and TV.”

Reporting by Brian Burke Photos by Cameron Walker and Brian Burke

Photo by Kaleigh Treiber



enior Connor Hyde [MP] scored a major clip for his writing portfolio this fall, after United Press International published an article he wrote for UPI Next’s mentoring program. The news story, headlined “Immigrants overstaying US visas a major problem, experts say,” ran with his byline in the Top News section of the wire service’s website in early September. “I’ve never covered politics and policy before, but I wanted to be challenged,” said Hyde, who is currently sports editor of The Houstonian. Kelli Arena, executive director of SHSU’s Global Center of Journalism and Democracy, recommended Hyde to the UPI Next program, which matches students with veteran journalists. Former Washington Post reporter Betsy Pisik served as Hyde’s mentor for

the 553-word article about an immigration loophole. “He developed this hard-hitting story and made it readable,” she said. “It was so good we put it on the UPI wire, and it went out across the international wires.” Pisik commended Hyde’s initiative in tackling the complex, controversial topic. “Connor found a fantastic source, a professor who had terrific insights into why immigration is and isn’t working here in the US,” she said. “The fact that he found this man and made contact with both sides of the aisle to get their views -that was all him.” A former intern for Community Impact Newspaper and the Huntsville Item, Hyde honed his skills as a news reporter throughout the mentorship. “The biggest thing I learned is the importance of being informed,” he said,

adding that he had to keep up with daily politics in Texas. “Understanding who you need to talk to, what questions to ask, all sorts of things about good sourcing.” Pisik described Hyde as “terrific,” “extremely patient, hard-working and creative.” “You always wish you had longer deadlines,” she said. “Connor was really patient throughout the process. Time was the biggest frustration for us.” One of the original crop of UPI-Next mentors, Pisik said she hoped to work with other up-and-coming journalists like Hyde in the future. “I wish that more schools had that proactive interest in pairing students with professionals,” Pisik said. “A lot of journalism students could benefit from this sort of program.” —Colin Harris

MIRANDA LANDSMAN INTERNS WITH DAN RATHER IN NYC Senior Miranda Landsman [Broadcast Journalism] spent this past summer in New York City, working as an intern for legendary journalist and SHSU alumnus Dan Rather (Class of 1953). Each year the MCOM department invites juniors and seniors to apply for this internship opportunity. The selected candidate is eligible to earn academic credit through the summer MCOM 4398 Professional Internship course. Photo courtesy of Landsman




“The Kat” KSHU celebrated its 40th birthday in October, capping four decades as Sam Houston State University’s radio station. KSHU, which operates from the first floor of the Dan Rather Communication building, provides approximately 70 student DJs with the opportunity to bring music and information to local and online audiences. “The station has provided an opportunity for all kinds of students, not just mass communication majors to get hands-on experience,” Hatton said. The DJ-hosted shows run from early morning until late night, five days per week. On Oct. 7, 1973, KSHU launched as a small-time radio station that broadcasted out of the Peabody Library with only 10 watts of power – just enough juice to reach the edges of campus – according to Debbi Hatton, instructor and KSHU faculty adviser. The radio station gained local fame for live-broadcasting about Old Main as it burned down in 1984, despite the Peabody Library itself in danger of catching fire, Hatton said. The station’s signal now reaches almost all of Walker County and has become an entertainment and news hub

for both SHSU students and Huntsvillearea residents. “We have an excellent following,” said LeeAn Muns, SHSU’s broadcast operations general manager, who estimated the station’s regional audience at between 50,000 and 70,000. “A lot of local businesses play our station,” she said. “You might be surprised by how many people actually tune in to the student media here at Sam.” Kat fans worldwide can listen to the broadcast, since the station began streaming live online in 2011. KSHU recently won a ZipWhip social media competition, which gave Kat listeners free text-messaging of song requests to 936-294-4400. “Things have really changed,” Muns said. “We’re fully automated with a digital signal and tens of thousands of songs. We’re keeping up with the times.” MCOM students like broadcast journalism senior Trent Scott plan and execute the day-to-day content. Scott has been involved with The Kat for four years and is the current student radio director. “Working there is a blast,” he said. “It’s the best part of my week, whether it be hosting or scheduling.” The station’s current playlists draw from classical music, jazz, classic rock, college rock/indie and hip-hop.

“If you haven’t listened to 90.5 in a while, you might be surprised by how the music has changed,” Muns said. “We play a lot of recent hits that you’d hear on commercial radio stations and that people have on their iPods,” she added. “We try to program it so you can sing along to your favorites from every genre.” Muns, a KSHU veteran DJ herself, hosted a Sunday-morning oldies show in the early 90s when she was a student at SHSU. “Friends would call in and tell me that I forgot to turn off the microphone because they could hear me singing along,” she said. Damian Mandola, a 1977 graduate of SHSU’s radio/television/film department, hosted a late night, call-in show on KSHU during its early years. “The radio station was just starting back then,” he said. “We were in the basement of the Peabody building, before it had been restored, so everything was musty and old.” Mandola, who is one of SHSU’s Outstanding Alumni for 2013, recalled his stint on the university airwaves with fondness. “It was a really interesting time, but we had a lot of fun,” he said. —Kassidy Turnpaugh

Photo provided by LeeAn Muns

42 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013

MCOM senior and DJ Stephanie Romero [PRA], Dr. Jean Bodon and President Dana Gibson at the El Gato ribbon-cutting ceremony at Rather on April 18, 2013. Photo by Brian Blalock

Ashley Tillery DJ A-Train

“I played music from the ‘80s and ‘90s, and that was fun to listen to. I liked the music and the feeling of being a DJ live on the radio.”

DIVERSIDAD EN EL RADIO After debuting on 90.5 HD2 in 2012, El Gato has entertained Huntsville-area and online listeners with around-the-clock Spanish-language music programming. “The Spanish station plays the latest music releases by top Latin artists,” Broadcast Operations General Manager LeeAn Muns said. “We have something for everyone: a mix of old- and new-school, Caribbean, tropical, Latin pop, oldies.” Spanish radio at SHSU originated as an idea of President Dana Gibson, Ph.D. “Dr. Gibson suggested that we utilize our HD band as a Spanish-language station that could work with the foreign language department and Spanish speakers at SHSU,” Muns said. The university subsequently approved funding to build an all-new radio studio on the third floor of the Dan Rather Communication Building. El Gato aired its first broadcast in spring 2012. In April, approximately 50 guests gathered at Rather for a celebratory lunch and a ribbon-cutting ceremony with President Gibson at the El Gato studio. Senior George Mattingly [Print Journalism] attended the event and took photos for the Houstonian.

“It was exciting to see the faculty, staff and students celebrate Spanish radio coming to the university,” Mattingly said. “El Gato shows off a different facet of what we can do with mass communication and media, and it adds to diversity on campus.” Along with local outreach, El Gato’s Spanish-speaking DJs and programs could provide SHSU with additional entrants and submissions for state tournaments. “By having two radio stations, we have more opportunity for students to get hands-on experience, and we are starting to be able to enter more radio competitions,” Muns said. Assistant professor Maria Feu Lopez, Ph.D., plans to integrate El Gato with her SPAN 2312 Spanish for Radio and SPAN 4317 Spanish for Media classes. Dr. Lopez also hopes to develop linguistic diversity assignments and social journalism research projects that engage the station’s rural listeners for Academic Community Engagement courses, explaining that El Gato has great potential. “[T]he audience is there, and it’s a growing audience,” Dr. Lopez said. “We can make it happen little by little.” —Kassidy Turnpaugh

Solenn Riou

DJ Mademoiselle S “Being a DJ always keeps you busy, because you have to introduce the songs, read a PSA, announce the weather...”

James Ashford DJ IllMatic

“[The Kat] gave me the opportunity to be heard by the great listeners of Sam Houston and Huntsville.”

Edward Gutierrez DJ No Bueno

“It’s scary at first, but that fear goes away over time.... Having all the people out there listening to you is a really great experience.”


The Houstonian SHSU’s independent, studentrun campus newspaper publishes twice weekly. The Houstonian is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Story meetings are open to new and current writers at 5 p.m. every Tuesday in Rm. 210 of the Dan Rather Communication building. The Houstonian’s faculty adviser is Dr. Robin Johnson.

Channel 7 SHSU/City of Huntsville’s cable-access channel, Cable Channel 7, airs weather, news, and other studentand university-produced programming. The station also broadcasts Huntsville City Council meetings. Anchors for Channel 7 News are Kessler McLaughlin, Christian Bermea, Teashia Harrison, Ryan Smith and Steven Snook. The Channel 7 faculty advisers are Kelli Arena and Mel Strait. —Reporting by Caitlin Adamcik Photos by Kaleigh Treiber


he MCOM department’s first annual Media Madness event kick-started the fall 2013 semester for new and current majors. More than 100 students flocked to the LSC ballroom on Aug. 27 to learn about the new MCOM emphases, student media outlets and MCOM organizations. The main goal of Media Madness is to inform students about opportunities to get involved with Channel 7 television news, The Houstonian newspaper and The Kat and El Gato radio stations, said instructor Debbi Hatton, the event’s organizer. Hatton described Media Madness 2013 as “very successful,” especially considering its newness. The event primarily targeted new students and provided an overview of the department’s academic and extracurricular offerings, she said. As students signed in and entered the ballroom, they scored free items for attending Media Madness. “[W]hen you first walked in, they offered cool things – not just shirts, but key chains and water bottles and all sorts of stuff,” junior Tiffany Jones [PRA] said. MCOM department chair Dr. Jean Bodon began the event with opening remarks, followed by presentations by MCOM faculty members and student organization leaders. Sophomore Grace Ngo [MP] said the line-up included department speakers and organizations “getting their names out there.” “I already knew about all of them,” Ngo said. “[M]edia Madness was more for freshmen, but I really liked going.”

44 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013

Senior Stephen Green [MP], editorin-chief of The Houstonian, told students about the importance of “getting handson experience as soon as they step foot on campus,” which “provides an education that you can’t get in a classroom.” “Employers want to see examples of what you can produce outside of class assignments,” Green said. “Working for student media will boost your knowledge and sharpen the skill set you’ll need when you graduate.” The event eventually moved to the Dan Rather Communications building for a “social hour” and refreshments. “Everyone could meet the professors, which is really good for those incoming students and freshmen,” Hatton said. Sophomore Paige Jackson said transfer students would “definitely” benefit from attending Media Madness next year. “I tried out for the [Channel 7] anchor position, and I learned about that from the event,” said Jackson, who transferred to SHSU this fall from Lone Star College. Freshman Josh Dragoo described Media Madness as “extremely informative” for incoming students who, like him, are new to the MCOM department. “[T]he opportunities that they gave us made me feel like I had an upper hand on the people that didn’t go,” he said. Hatton already has plans for making the next Media Madness an even greater success than the first one. “We are definitely going to publicize it more,” she said. “We’re going to [reach out to] the current students and really try to get them involved.” —Cameron Walker

National Association of Black Journalists The National Association of Black Journalists provides opportunities for MCOM majors and other students interested in the field of journalism to gain insight on what they will do once they graduate.

For more information:

NABJ holds workshops on internships, resumes and networking to help students with a jumpstart to their future careers in media.

Faculty Advisor:

Facebook, Twitter (@NABJSHSU) or Blake Whittaker at

Meeting times:

Every Monday @ 5 p.m. in DAN 319 Dr. LaChrystal Ricke Radcliffe

Blake Whittaker NABJ President

“NABJ is the perfect organization that can help you strive to be one of the best journalists.”

National Broadcast Society The National Broadcast Society gives members exposure to the journalism industry.

For more information:

NBS hosts guest speakers, networking opportunities and visits to television and radio stations. Members also create projects for submission to the regional and national NBS conventions.

Meeting times: Every Wednesday @ 5 p.m. in DAN 319

Faculty Advisor: Kelli Arena

Cameron Bunch NBS President

“I joined NBS AERho to expand my knowledge and get involved with my field.”

Public Relations Student Society of America The Public Relations Student Society of America allows PRA majors and other students to prepare for careers in the field of public relations.

For more information:

PRSSA members attend professional events, including a recent trip to the PRSA Communications Summit at Dallas.

Every Tuesday @ 5 p.m. in DAN 319

Facebook: search for PRSSA-SHSU Chapter

Meeting times:

Faculty Advisor: Peter Roussel

Raven Films Raven Films focuses on preparing students for work in the film industry through networking, workshops, internships, hands-on experience and education.

For more information:

Raven also makes small-scale productions to give members the opportunity to work on a movie set and experience filmmaking from pre-production to post-production.

Every Tuesday @ 5 p.m. in DAN 125

Sehar Tejani PRSSA President

“This was the one organization that I knew would help me get hands-on experience as well as learn and grow for my career and future.”

Twitter (@RavenFilmsSHSU) or e-mail

Meeting times:

Faculty Advisor: Tom Garrett

—Reporting by Caitlin Adamcik

Fariha Alam

Raven Films President “It’s this environment of support and growth that initially attracted me to the organization.”









Alumni Angel Scholarship

Sophomore Alumni Angel Scholarship

Radio-Television Alumni Angels Scholarship Nicole Angel Junior Alumni


Senior Alumni Angel Scholarship


Transfer Student Angel Scholarship


Omar Jon Sanchez Memorial Production Scholarship

Charles Moser Brenham Scholarship

Col. John W. Thomason Jr. Scholarship

CBS / Dan Rather Endowed Scholarship


Dr. Ferol Robinson Endowed Tomorrow’s Journalists Scholarship


Frank Q. Dobbs MCOM Memorial Scholarship


Houstonian Staff Endowed Scholarship



Ferol Robinson Endowed Scholarship

Dr. Ferol Robinson Journalism Endowed Scholarship



Carol A. Callahan Journalism Endowed Scholarship


Kelly Edgar & Ina May Ogletree McAdams Endowed Scholarship

46 • MCOM AT SHSU | Fall 2013

Dr. Ferol Robinson Journalism Endowed Scholarship


Alpha Epsilon Rho R/T/F Scholarship



Print Journalism

Broadcast Production: TV





Public Relations

Broadcast Journalism

Broadcast Production: Radio

Media Sales


“Winning the first Director’s Trophy for overall on-site competition excellence throws down the gauntlet for future competitions. We are the university to beat.” – Dr. Robin Johnson “Every mass communication department in the state wants to win this trophy, so we definitely have a target on our backs. Our response...bring it!” – Debbi Hatton


First Place | Sports Writing for Radio



Second Place | PR Press Release

First Place | Sports Writing for TV Second Place | News Writing for TV









Advisors Debbi Hatton, LeeAn Muns & Robin Johnson

First Place | Radio Advertising Third Place | Spanish Radio News Anchor

Second Place | Breaking News Video Package

Second Place | TV Advertising

Second Place | Radio News Anchor

Third Place | Editorial Cartoon

Honorable Mention | TV News Anchor Re-elected as Student President of TIPA

Honorable Mention | Feature News Photo

Honorable Mention | Print News Writing


Chet Flippo's Famous

chili recipe The frost is on the pumpkin, and you know what that means. It’s chili time in America. Time to cook up a big pot of some serious chili. Let’s plan this so the chili will be bubbling and ready at just about the time the big game comes on. Put on some music, starting with Guy Clark’s “Texas Cookin”....

Pop a cold one. And start fixing a big pot of Chet’s Tennessee Velvet Chili. I like hot chili, but to me, it seems pointless to take chili beyond the dimension where you can actually enjoy the many flavors and textures that make up a good chili. Burning your mouth is not the point of making chili. Accordingly, my little recipe is not about heat levels but about taste and character. Start preparations about three hours before kickoff. Take about two pounds of sirloin steak and cut away almost all the fat, leaving a small amount for flavor. Slice the steak down to cubes no larger than a half-inch across. Brown the cubes in olive oil in a pot on low-medium heat. I like to use my Le Creuset heavy cast iron pot for chili and soups and sauces because the heat radiates evenly throughout the pot -- vertically as well as laterally. As the steak cubes brown, toss in a minced garlic clove and a chopped large white onion and a dash or two or three of salt. When the meat is browned and the onions are starting to turn translucent, add a 26-ounce box of Parmalat Pomi chopped tomatoes. You can use canned tomatoes if you want, but the Pomi tomatoes are far less acidic and much lower in sodium than the canned variety. Then stir in six ounces of a good tomato paste. Get the mix to a light boil. Add five tablespoons of chili powder, one teaspoon of cayenne pepper, a teaspoon of cumin, a teaspoon of oregano and a teaspoon of paprika. Fill the six-ounce tomato paste can with water and stir that in. As the mixture coheres, add a dusting of cocoa powder and a couple of small squares of dark chocolate (I had Ghirardelli on hand). Add a dash or two of Secret Ingredient. I’m not disclosing my Secret Ingredient. You should experiment to find yours. After all ingredients are added, take it down to a bubbling simmer. Note: there are no beans in this chili, and there never will be. I like to cook a separate pot of pinto beans as a nice side dish, but Real Chili does not lie down with beans of any variety. Especially kidney beans. Simmer for roughly two hours or so, until the meat is thoroughly tender and the chili assumes a velvety texture. Add salt to taste and a dash of beer every now and then to keep the mixture aerated and to let the hint of barley and hops invigorate the

chili. (The alcohol cooks off, so the chili is alcohol-free, although you may not be. I like adding Michelob. Different beers impart different tastes.) Fix some cast-iron skillet cornbread. You can cook from an original recipe although I kind of like the Martha White quick-fix packages. About 10 minutes before you’re ready to serve the chili, stir a heaping tablespoon of masa flour into about a third of a cup of warm water and add to the pot, stirring thoroughly. This will bind the chili. Let it simmer another five minutes or so. Turn the heat off and let the chili rest for a minute or three. Serve with pinto beans, cornbread, crackers, corn chips, green onions, jalepenos and bowls of chopped onion, grated sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream and plain yogurt for toppings. And cold beer. Meanwhile, if you’re lucky, your significant other has gone to Hazel Smith’s Hot Dish recipe page on and has whipped up a Grated Apple Pie and popped it into the oven. After a steaming bowl of Chet’s Tennessee Velvet Chili, get that apple pie out of the oven, cut a generous slice of pie and cover it with a big scoop of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream, get in the recliner, kick back and enjoy the game. This is what God intended for you.

Reprinted from “Nashville Skyline” with permission from

For more on Chet Flippo, see page 24

Photo by Cesar Jimenez


The newsletter of the Department of Mass Communication at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you