From staff reports
MaryAnn Chase was surprised to happen upon her alma mater being featured on national television Wednesday -- and pleased when she stopped to watch.
A retired teacher who earned her master's degree from Ohio University, Chase wasn't aware FOX News was broadcasting portions the "FOX & Friends" morning show from the Athens campus Tuesday and Wednesday in conjunction with its coverage the Ohio primary election.
"I felt so proud of Ohio University," Chase said. "I think that alumni across the nation are going to be proud to see the way that their school was represented.
"It was an outstanding showcase of the quality of students that Ohio University has," said Chase, who was so pleased that she put in a call to President Roderick J. McDavis' office to share her thoughts. "The young people -- both on the panel and in the audience -- were well-informed on all issues and on both sides of the aisle in terms of representing Democrats and Republicans."
On Tuesday, 26 minutes of the three-hour "FOX & Friends" originated from Baker University Center and featured interaction between the primarily student audience and FOX's Alisyn Camerota and Geraldo Rivera as well as live debates by Forensics Team members. Wednesday's show, which included 29 minutes broadcast from Athens, highlighted the opinions of more than 40 students called on to participate in focus groups.
Based on that amount of airtime and FOX News advertising rates, the exposure would have cost the university more than $2.7 million.
FOX News also has given the two-day event significant play on its Web site, streaming content and including a webcast of "The After Show Show" that features a behind-the-scenes look at the production and interaction between audience members and the on-air crew. Regional FOX affiliates also have noted the broadcasts.
Such a significant appearance on the national stage increases the university's name recognition and draws attention to the quality of its students and academic programs.
"Clearly from a marketing point of view and a university point of view, the coverage is very good for the university," said Chris Moberg, chair of the marketing department. "Just being on the television and the webcasts raises awareness of the university."
Moberg said the excitement of the week's events created a positive atmosphere on campus that was hard to ignore.
"As somebody who loves teaching and just being on a college campus, the events were positive," he said. "There was a lot of energy in Baker Center this week, and I'm sure it had a positive impact on campus life."
FOX Network consultant Woody Fraser was impressed with the students' showing, calling them "very articulate, very real, very eager to participate and smart as a whip."
"If I was interested in Ohio University and I saw this, I would say, 'I'm there,'" added Fraser, who created, developed and produced many of television's most successful shows. Among them was "The Mike Douglas Show," for which he hired FOX News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, a 1962 Ohio University graduate. Today, he serves as a consultant to Ailes.
Camerota agreed with Fraser's assessment of the students' knowledge, noting that she and other members of the FOX team pushed the notion that young people vote based on image rather than substance.
"The rap on college kids is that they vote on likeability," Camerota said. "These kids care about policies. They know the policies that excite them about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. These kids could not be tripped up."
For many of the students, this week's shows provided their first opportunity to witness a live national broadcast.
"It's a lot more involved than I thought," graduate student Anne Gerbensky-Kerber said. "There is a lot going on, but there is a lot of down time in between shots from here. It's very interesting. I have a lot of questions about what people are doing and why."
Gerbensky-Kerber attended Tuesday's session, at which Fraser and Camerota were happy to share some of the "jargon" and explain technical aspects of the production.
Brooks Jarosz, a junior majoring in broadcast journalism who works as a development producer with WOUB-TV, had the opportunity to work as a production assistant for senior producer Jennifer Cunningham.
In the days leading up to the production, he was FOX's man on the ground, helping to arrange advance aspects of the production. During the live shows, he did everything from soliciting questions for the on-air talent to drumming up audience applause on cue.
"It was interesting to see how a network does things compared to a local station," said Jarosz, who values the industry contacts he made through his role. "The more I know technically and the more I know about the field, the better. It is only going to make me more versatile and more marketable."