Communications students ready to produce THON coverage, webcast

As more than 700 Penn State students dance and thousands more support them inside the Bryce Jordan Center, students from the College of Communications will present the annual webcast of Penn State Dance Marathon that serves thousands of alumni, friends and fellow students all over the world.

THON 2014 -- from 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, through 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23 -- culminates a yearlong effort to raise funds and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer.

This marks the 10th consecutive year communications students have produced the THON webcast, which will be available at www.thon.org and psucommedia.com online. More than 100 students, led by members of the Telecommunications Club, are involved in the effort, which also gets important technical support from Penn State units such as WPSU-TV, Information Technology Services, and Telecommunications & Networking Services.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for communications students to get a taste of planning a live production and following it through,” said Karen Mozley-Bryan, manager of facilities in the College of Communications who has helped guide the student-directed effort. A Penn State alumna and former Lion Ambassador, Bryan knows the special place THON -- the largest student-run philanthropy in the world -- holds in the heart of Penn Staters.

Three other College of Communications staff members and Penn State alumni: multimedia production specialist Bill Gardner, system administrator Chris Maurer and equipment room coordinator Michael Zelazny; have been instrumental in preparing for the webcast. In addition, senior telecommunications major Artyom Kneuer has served as a vital leader and liaison with the Telecommunications Club.

The webcast, with a mix of live coverage and behind-the-scenes features, gives those who cannot attend an opportunity to experience and connect with THON. More than 1 million people in 48 countries have watched some portion of the webcast the past nine years. As a testament to the level of production, Philadelphia’s ABC affiliate, WPVI-TV, will use the webcast for live cut-ins for its viewers throughout the weekend.

Along with the webcast, dozens of other communications students will get similar real-life experience with their coverage of THON by producing photos, multimedia projects and writing stories throughout the weekend. Nearly 100 other students -- working around the clock -- will post photos and audio slideshows that will be available at psucommedia.com online.

In addition, communications students and THON officials have collaborated on a portrait project that will feature images of THON participants -- dancers, family members, THON children and more -- taken in front of a uniform background on the floor of the Bryce Jordan Center.

People in the photos will have a small white board to write messages about who they dance for or why they dance. The images, which can then be shared on social media, will be available at https://blogs.comm.psu.edu/thon/ shortly after THON begins.

Since 1977, THON has raised more than $101 million for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. The fund works to offset the cost of treatment that a family’s insurance does not cover. It also ensures counselors, social workers, music therapists and other specialists are available to provide comprehensive care in a family-focused atmosphere.

Last Updated February 27, 2014