Students ready to go '46 LIVE' with THON webcast

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Last year, 26,024 people simultaneously watched the Penn State Dance Marathon reveal its fundraising total of $13,026,653.23 via the live webcast, and throughout THON weekend the webcast drew viewers from 103 different countries.

This year, while some students are dancing for 46 hours straight in an effort to battle childhood cancer, students from the Penn State College of Communications will again be in the Bryce Jordan Center conducting the webcast with a goal of bringing THON to viewers around the world. The webcast will be available at thon.org.

'46 LIVE': Behind the Scenes

While some students are dancing for 46 hours straight in an effort to battle childhood cancer, students from the Penn State College of Communications will again be in the Bryce Jordan Center conducting "46 LIVE," a webcast designed to deliver the THON experience to viewers around the world. The webcast will be available at thon.org.

One student who will help make this a reality is Courtney Barrow, a senior broadcast journalism major and one of the executive producers of the webcast, which was re-branded and revamped as "46 LIVE" last year. Barrow is joined by fellow executive producers Alyssa Gregory and Terrin Hartman.

“THON is a big deal, to say the least,” said Barrow, a native of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. “We don’t want people to feel like they’re missing out because they studied abroad or they graduated. We're the people who are going to bring you THON, even if you can’t be there or if you’re in different parts of the country or even the world.”

The group, which includes a crew of producers, a social media team, camera and audio people, production assistants and on-air talent, has already put in countless hours in preparation for this year’s webcast, which will take place Feb. 19 to 21.

“A lot of times people say that you can’t understand THON until you see it, and the webcast does a really good job of trying to capture some of that energy and the environment,” said Lily Beatty, THON’s public relations director. “Of course, I think everyone can agree that actually being in the Bryce Jordan Center is a crazy experience, but because of the webcast, we’re able to bring that to other people who otherwise might not be able to come.”

Barrow, who was a member of last year’s "46 LIVE" crew, said the group has created more pre-produced content this year and hopes to have an extra camera on the floor. The webcast will include dancer profiles, director profiles, Greek Life features and more. Barrow also hopes to get more active on social media (@FortySixLIVE), and to be able to post interviews on YouTube directly after they are played on the webcast.

“We are trying to do a lot more connecting with people and interacting with our viewers. We had a couple of hashtags going around last year and we’d like to continue doing that, just engaging people with THON if they can’t be in the BJC that weekend,” said Barrow.

With just days until the webcast, Barrow said there is still work to be done. The team has a lot of new faces this year, so training and making sure everyone is on the same page is key.

The broadcast team is made up of 24 hosts who will take shifts throughout the weekend. Barrow said most of them have experience with PSNtv, the student-driven TV organization on campus, or “Centre County Report,” the weekly student-produced TV newscast, so they have a strong background.

At the Bryce Jordan Center, the crew has a suite, which is where Barrow anticipates spending most of her 18-hour shift on THON weekend. She’ll be making sure the webcast runs smoothly. In addition to the suite, "46 LIVE" will have three cameras and a new wireless fourth camera on the floor.

Support from the Telecommunications Club, the Department of Telecommunications, faculty and staff in the College of Communications, and several related units at Penn State has been integral to the success of "46 LIVE," as well as the tradition of communications students producing the webcast.

For students like Barrow, who enjoy being a part of THON and also have aspirations of working in TV or a broadcast position in the future, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“This is by far the best of both worlds,” said Barrow. "This is the best thing I could have asked for. I did a committee my sophomore year and I loved it, but this is not just THON, this is THON and basically the rest of my life because my life is mostly broadcast. It’s a happy medium. I’ve done it as press, I’ve done it with "46 LIVE." This is the best way for me that I can do THON, because I’m doing something I really, really love and then THON is such a big part Penn State, which I also really love.”

Last Updated March 14, 2016