From Staff Reports

On Wednesday, June 16, just before 4:30 p.m., WCU professor of geosciences and director of WCU’s Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines Rob Young got in touch with Bill Studenc, senior director of news services, after MSNBC contacted Young to arrange a live interview that day with Rachel Maddow for “The Rachel Maddow Show,” which airs at 9 p.m.

At the time, Young was raising concerns about some of the solutions being proposed to mitigate damage to coastal communities from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico – proposals such as building a long sand berm to prevent oil from reaching wetlands and beaches in Louisiana.

Studenc, who was leaving soon to travel to Maryland, asked the news services staff to assist. Shortly after 6:15 p.m., an MSNBC representative sent an e-mail to request setting up an interview with Young using Skype.


Unfamiliar with Skype, Teresa Killian Tate, a writer and editor with the news services office, tried to contact IT’s Digital Media Specialist Neil Torda (see “A Helping Hand for CNN” below) and then-Director of Web Services Dirk Herr-Hoyman and then called Web Developer Jed Tate (pictured), who immediately drove from his home back to WCU with a MacBook that had a built-in camera and microphone. On the way, he and Herr-Hoyman discussed by phone the logistics of setting up an account and using Skype.

Meanwhile, WCU student Joseph Hader, who assists the news services office with video needs, packed up a studio light kit, as well as WCU’s cameras, and joined the Tates at the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines office to set up. Jed Tate established a Skype account and sat in as “Rob Young” before Young arrived. MSNBC worked with him for optimal placement of the computer for the best background, sound and lighting. Hader responded to MSNBC’s requests to set up lights at different locations.

MSNBC and the WCU team also tested connections and connection consistency since it was absolutely critical that there be a strong connection that would not be lost during the live, nationally televised interview. When the time came for Young’s scheduled interview, all went as planned and he was interviewed live from WCU by Rachel Maddow.

View Young’s live interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow (June 16):

A Helping Hand for CNN


Digital Media Specialist Neil Torda (pictured) stepped in to help in July when CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed Young via Skype. Torda worked with the WCU news services team to give advice on the microphones and equipment that would help them increase the quality of interviews using Skype. He also helped Hader set up the Skype connection using a high-definition video camera in the video suite area of the public relations office. Photographer Ashley Evans provided the light kit.

View Young’s live interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper (July 15):