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Campus radio and television stations meet challenge of covering terrorist attacks

10/2/2001
October 2, 2001

APSU's campus radio station WAPX-FM MAGIC 91.7 responded to the attack on America Sept. 11 by offering eight hours of live programming.

Dr. David Michael von Palko, director of broadcast and cable operations and professor of communication, anchored the coverage, which included guest interviews with Dr. David Kanervo, chair of the political science department, Terri Williams, executive director of Crisis Line, Dr. Dewey Browder, professor of history, Dr. Fredrick Grieve, associate professor of psychology, Dr. Bert Randall, professor of philosophy, and David Wesner, technical coordinator for theatre, former Manhattan resident and Vietnam veteran.

Phone interviews were conducted with Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Wendell Gilbert (BG-Ret.), the American Red Cross and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

MAGIC 91.7 also carried live addresses by President George W. Bush and Governor Don Sundquist.

John Moseley, general manager of WAPX-FM and associate professor of communication, provided technical and engineering assistance for the radio station and Cable 99, the designated cable channel controlled by the department of communication and theatre.

"John was a critical component in our ability to provide the coverage we did," said von Palko.

"One of the many, and I do mean many, things he did was to re-engineer our Associated Press wire service so I was able to read the latest press bulletins from a monitor in the control room. He also set up a camera so we could feed what was happening in the control room live onto Cable 99. Later in the morning, he put the television control room live on Cable 99 so some of the broadcast students could read Associated Press copy live on camera," said von Palko.

"One of the most gratifying aspects of our coverage was the number of students in our department who pitched in and helped out throughout the day. While I was perhaps the most visible person in the production, it was a team effort. There's no way I could have done what I did without the help of a great many people, such as John and Dr. Mike Gotcher, chair of the department of communication and theatre, the students and, of course, the guests who spent time talking with me on air about various aspects of the day's tragic events. I think we certainly lived up to our name as the Voice of Austin Peay," said von Palko.

Campus radio and television stations also carried a live broadcast of Dr. Sherry Hoppe's inauguration. The video signal produced by Cable 99 was captured and used to stream the event on the ethernet.

"That was another team effort from department faculty and students," said von Palko.

"Department Chair Mike Gotcher and General Manager John Moseley were involved heavily in orchestrating the various tasks that had to be completed to allow the cablecast and Web-stream to occur, most importantly, getting the cables installed between the concert hall and the cable station. Without Gotcher's leadership role and Moseley's expertise, the cablecast would have been technically impossible," said von Palko.

Von Palko, who came to APSU in 1983 to build the campus radio station and start a mass communication program, was promoted to director of broadcast and cable operations, and Moseley, former station manager of WAPX-FM, was promoted to general manager prior to the start of the Fall 2001 semester.

"This is very exciting for me. It's a new challenge that comes at a very challenging time. It will allow the department to refocus the radio/television program and take advantage of new technologies to serve both the campus and local community even better than we have served them during the past 18 years," said von Palko.