“The Bonnaroo campus” again available to students

The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, served as a hands-on, outdoor classroom for College of Media and Entertainment students in 2019 for the sixth year in a row.

From June 13–17, 35 students majoring in Recording Industry, Media Arts and Journalism and Strategic Media gained live, multimedia work experience on the 700-acre farm that College of Media and Entertainment Dean Ken Paulson calls his “Bonnaroo campus.”

“Our partnership with Bonnaroo has opened up so many opportunities for our students, and we’re now seeing those first students in the program return as professionals,” Paulson said. “It’s a reminder to all of us that classrooms shouldn’t be contained by four walls.”

Alumni Zac Leonard, a 2018 Media Arts graduate and former student crew worker at Bonnaroo, returned this year as the concert video producer for artist Post Malone, one of the most popular acts at this year’s festival.

“My experience with Bonnaroo solidified what I wanted to do as a career — live video for music,” Leonard said. “Bonnaroo with MTSU showed me what the environment of a festival was really like, the quality that is expected from these touring acts and their video crew.”

This is the fifth year the student production team at Bonnaroo used MTSU’s state-of-the-art, $1.7 million Mobile Production Lab, which captured footage from the festival’s Who Stage.

Students learn from the grind of a four-day festival, said Bob Gordon., an associate professor in Media Arts, who oversees the mobile lab.

“Eighteen live music concerts in four days — no other university in the area can do this,” Gordon said. “Our students produce actual content for Bonnaroo, their performers and the news media.”

Other students worked writing and taking photographs from different stages and filing them with local news outlets.

Leon Alligood, an associate professor of journalism, mentored students covering the festival for The Tennessean and other media outlets.

“Offering students an opportunity to immerse themselves in a work environment such as Bonnaroo tests them in so many real-world ways,” Alligood said. “From negotiating credential issues to snagging a quote from an elusive artist to just dealing with WiFi and other tech problems.”

Meanwhile, WMOT Roots Radio 89.5 FM, MTSU’s public Americana radio station, set up shop Saturday in a temporary live-broadcast studio to interview artists and do features from the festival. Among Program Director Jessie Scott’s interviews was artist Kelsey Waldon.

Although Sunday was the last day on the job for students at the Bonnaroo campus, for some their work continued.

“With 16 band performances in the can, we’ve got hundreds of audio tracks and video files to work with in our post-production phase back on campus over the next two weeks,” said Michael Fleming, a professor in the Department of Recording Industry.

“This year, student video directors and audio mixers will be working together closer than ever to recut, remix and package our music videos.”

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Categories: Alumni, Events, Faculty, News, Partnerships, Students

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