Author: Rand Nelson

Secret Meals for Hungry Children Feeds 1,200

Over the last 15 semesters, more than 440 public relations students have fed over 1,200 children, raising a combined $149,791.18 to date.

Susan Daria’s APR 419, Concepting and Implementation, takes public relations students and gives them a semester-long project that benefits West Alabama’s needy children through Secret Meals for Hungry Children.

The class allows students to use skills they learn in their public relations courses to attract media attention, earn social media placements and radio spots. This semester, 37 students earned four WVUA feature stories, five articles, two iHeart Radio announcements, a spot on the Kip Tyner Show, a feature on the University’s website and various other social media placements. They raised over $11,890 which will feed more than 84 local children.

SMHC works with teachers and school counselors to place pre-made food packs into each needy child’s backpack while they are at recess on Fridays. Daria began partnering with Alabama Credit Union and her students in 2011 to support this organization.

“Just when I think they have tried it all, my students come up with even more unique ways to engage and educate the public about childhood hunger and simple ways to make a positive change, locally,” said Daria. “Their ideas have been everything from a fishing tournament to a spin-a-thon to a battle of the bands event! You name it. What inspires them, inspires me, and then we all work together to figure out how to make their ideas come to life! It is really gratifying.”

C&IS students are positively impacting the community where they live. For more information about SMHC, visit their website.

The group also has a YouTube channel, where you can check out many of the various project this class has produced to raise money to feed children in need.

Alabama Public Radio Wins National RFK Journalism Award

Back row, from left: Steve Hecmanczuk, Christina Turner, Rachel Buzzotta, Allison Mollenkamp, Alex Richey. Front row, from left: Alex AuBuchon, Pat Duggins, Stan Ingold

Alabama Public Radio has been named the winner of the national Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for their yearlong investigation and documentary, “Help Wanted: Alabama’s Rural Health Care Crisis.

Each year, the Washington D.C. based advocacy group, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, selects winners in 13 categories with only one radio news operation chosen. APR is the 2018 winner. Previous radio winners include National Public Radio and the Bob Edwards Show on SiriusXM.

“I am so proud of the APR news team and delighted that their work has been recognized by the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for radio,” says Elizabeth Brock, Director of the Center for Public Television and Radio. “Pat, Stan and Alex are dedicated to reporting stories of importance to Alabama’s diverse citizenry—and taking on the state of health care was an important and ambitious endeavor. The support of the University of Alabama and our colleagues at the College of Communication and Information Sciences and the generosity of our listeners and community leaders make it all possible.”

APR’s investigation of rural health care in Alabama takes on a variety of issues, including diabetes, pregnancy and childbirth. Studies often rank Alabama as having the highest infant mortality rate in the nation, and the greatest number of diabetics. Furthermore, seven rural Alabama counties do not have a hospital, and only sixteen counties have a hospital capable of delivering a baby.

“The deeper we dug into the rural health issue in Alabama, the worse it got,” says APR News Director Pat Duggins. “The news team and I can’t describe how flattered we are with this generous award. Hopefully, it will help shine an even brighter light on the challenges rural Alabamians face in obtaining the medical care they need.”

Founded by the reporters who covered Robert F. Kennedy’s historic 1968 presidential campaign, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards honor outstanding reporting on issues that reflect Robert Kennedy’s concerns, including human rights, social justice, and the power of individual action in the United States and around the world.

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights will present its national Journalism Award to the APR news team at a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. in May.

Alabama Public Radio is a network of public radio stations licensed by The University of Alabama and located in Bryant-Denny Stadium’s Digital Media Center. Its affiliation with the College of Communication and Information Sciences gives students opportunities for practical training in a variety of production activities.

2018 Holle Award Winners Announced

From Left: Blake Hudson, Dean Mark Nelson, Mary Clay Kline

The College of Communication and Information Sciences has announced the winners of the 2018 Holle Awards for Excellence and Creativity in Communication.

The awards are designed to celebrate and reward student achievement in the areas of book arts, filmmaking, media writing, public speaking and screenwriting.

  • The Holle Award for Excellence in Book Arts is awarded to 2017 University of Iowa MFA graduate, Lisa Miles, for her piece, “Codex Chup Cabal.” Judges prized the piece for its considerable display of historical and technical research that offered the reader a beautifully crafted book with universal meaning and impact.
  • The Holle Award for Excellence in Filmmaking is awarded to UCLA student, Kristopher D. Wilson, for “Mid-City Blue,” a film about a hopeful police academy graduate who experiences a routine traffic stop in civilian clothes, providing him with a newfound perspective on his career of choice.
  • The Holle Award for Excellence in Media Writing is awarded to UA’s Mary Clay Kline, of Cleveland, Mississippi. Her submission led one judge to remark, “[Her] work is a demonstration that better reporting leads to better stories.”
  • The Holle Award for Excellence in Public Speaking is awarded to UA’s Grace Meagher of Joliet, Illinois. Her speech cast a light on the gender gap in children’s literacy ability, that young boys read less than young girls. She directed the audience to curb this trend by encouraging the young boys in their lives to read more.
  • The Holle Award for Excellence in Screenwriting is awarded to UA’s Blake Hudson, of Clanton, Alabama, for his work, “The Last Resorts Club.” This script was praised by judges for its structure and its ability to lead the reader to great empathy for its characters.
Holle Award for Public Speaking winner, Grace Meagher, with Dr. Adam Brooks (left) and Dr. Alexa Chilcutt (right)

“The 2018 Holle Award winners have proven to be a uniquely talented and inspirational group of students from across the country,” said Dr. Mark Nelson, dean of the College of Communication and Information Sciences. “These students excel in communication and creativity, two things Brigadier General Everett Holle believed in and supported through his generosity in funding these awards. He will be missed but his legacy lives on in the Holle Awards.”

The Holle Awards are named for the 1950 graduate of The University of Alabama who served as an announcer, director, writer and producer during his 40-year career at NBC 13. Holle was a member of the College of Communication and Information Sciences’ board of visitors where he passionately invested in the success of University of Alabama students for years.

Tough Crowd

A small group of kindergartners huddles closely together on the carpet of their classroom, sitting criss-cross, applesauce. They inch forward all throughout the readings, jockeying for the best positions to see each book’s illustrations. Angela Billings’ oral interpretation students feed off of the children’s excitement. Each student’s reading grew in confidence and quality from “Once upon a time” to “Happily ever after.”

As a part of her course curriculum, Billings, communication studies, sends her students to the toughest group of critics around: kindergartners. Throughout the semester, her oral interpretation students read to classrooms full of elementary school students to develop their skillset in areas such as tone, resonance and eye contact.

This process is an integral part of how she teaches oral interpretation—a class she describes as pooling together several elements of a public speaking class, an acting class, a literature class and a voice and diction class. The activity presents a unique challenge to the students and reinforces their course material through experiential learning.

“One of the first assignments we do is children’s literature, because, for most of us, this was our first introduction to oral interpretation—our parents orally interpreted our books for us,” said Billings. “When my dad read Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs to me, he made the characters, the sound effects and the descriptions all come alive. [Our parents reading to us] is what creates our love of reading.”

Oral interpretation is more than just reading out loud or public speaking. The presenter at the front of the room has to stand the way a character would stand, imitate their voices, act out all their movements and mimic sounds to drive home the audience experience. For some students, this can be overwhelming.

“A lot of students come into this class with high levels of anxiety. The thought of getting up in front of a classroom is terrifying,” said Billings. “But you get them in front of a group of kindergartners and eventually, they don’t want to leave.”

Such was the case on Wednesday, April 25. Billings students read and voiced characters for books such as Where the Wild Things Are, Pete the Cat: Robo-Pete, and Dragons Love Tacos. By the mornings’ end, their excitement matched that of the kindergartners’ smile for smile.

Students Report on ‘Shelter’ in 5th-Annual Global News Relay

C&IS students from the department of journalism and creative media are teaming with 17 universities around the world for the fifth-annual Global News Relay. Participating countries include Bulgaria, Egypt, India, the United Kingdom, China, Japan and the Netherlands, among others.

Global News Relay is a collaboration of journalism students worldwide who produce news content for a 6-hour block under a set theme each year. This year’s theme is Shelter, which focuses on stories about homelessness, immigration, the housing crisis, urban renewal, animal habitats and others.

“No matter what major you are pursuing, it’s a really amazing experience,” said Juliette Edwards, lead producer and anchor for the GNR team. “It’s very eye opening, because it’s so much work, but when we were done filming, it was really cool to see the finished project.”

Over a dozen UA students volunteered their time producing and recording their segments on shelter. The UA portion of the broadcast will feature stories covering topics such as Airbnb, a local animal shelter, UA’s new adapted athletics facility, Habitat for Humanity efforts in Tuscaloosa following the 2011 Tornado and more.

“Football is so big here, and people are always looking for places to stay,” said Leah Doolin. “So, I centered my story around Airbnb and how it is a good alternative to staying in a hotel.”

The stories were produced and directed entirely by UA students inside WVUA 23 studios in the Digitial Media Center. Alabama’s part in the GNR broadcast will take place at 12 p.m. on Monday, April 23. Preview all of the stories they will be reporting here, and check out the livestream here.

“I’ve always wanted to be on television, and I love hands-on activities,” said Devin Bowens. “This gave me insight and behind-the-scenes knowledge of what it takes to produce something on this scale, and it has been a great experience.”

The Global News Relay was founded in 2014. UA first participated in the event in 2015 and has done so each following year.

Jalen Drummond, Forensics National Champion

Drummond, National Champion, Informative Speaking

Jalen Drummond, a senior from Wedowee, Alabama, finished first nationally in Informative Speaking at the 41st American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET) Championships in Colorado Springs, CO. The Alabama Forensic Council traveled to the AFA-NIET with over 20 students competing.

“Preparing to compete on the national stage is nothing short of intense,” said Drummond. “I spent hours perfecting my delivery, researching current events, and practicing with some of the most respected coaches in the nation. It is definitely grueling; however, the laborious preparation definitely pays off when you hear your name shouted as the national champion.”

Drummond’s topic focused on the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and an Obama Administration report that sheds light on details of that day. Drummond’s speech attempted to address and combat fake news and emphasizes the need for truth in reporting.

The AFC entered 24 students in 66 events and advanced nine students in 15 events to quarter-finals, five students in six events to semi-finals, and three students in four events to the final rounds of competition. AFC finished in fifth place out of 63 competing schools for the second year in a row.

“The fifth-place finish of the AFC at this year’s National Speech tournament is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the students and staff,” said Bobby Imbody, Director of Forensics. “All of the students did the hard work required to be great, and it shows. More importantly, our students tackled hard topics and spoke truth to any and all audiences in an effort to make their world a better place more than any year before.”


The AFA-NIET is the most competitive national forensics tournament in the nation with the most rigorous qualification process of any intercollegiate forensic tournament. For a full list of student winners, see below:

Pearce Barringer, Junior, Montgomery
Quarter Finals             Extemporaneous Speaking

Emma Capitanelli, First Year, Collierville, TN
6th Place          Persuasive Speaking

Jalen Drummond, Senior, Wedowee
National Champion     Informative Speaking
3rd Place          Communication Analysis

Brittany Grady, Senior, Birmingham
Quarter Finals             Impromptu Speaking

Isaiah McDermott, First Year, Morristown, TN
Quarter Finals             Program Oral Interpretation

Danielle Pacia, Junior, Morristown, TN
Semi Finals     Program Oral Interpretation
Quarter Finals             Informative Speaking
Quarter Finals             Persuasive Speaking

Alexis Simmons, Junior, Montgomery
Semi Finals                 Poetry Interpretation
Quarter Finals             Prose Interpretation
Quarter Finals             Dramatic Interpretation

McLean Stewart, Junior, Montgomery
6th Place          Extemporaneous Speaking
Quarter Finals             Impromptu Speaking

Ed White, Junior, Montgomery
Quarter Finals             Communication Analysis

Dr. Meredith Bagley Receives Other Club’s Outstanding Faculty Award

The Other Club selected Dr. Meredith Bagley (associate professor, communication studies) as the 2018 recipient of the Outstanding Faculty award as a part of their Honors Day celebration on the Mound. The award aims to recognize an outstanding faculty member who has made a significant impact in their respective area of campus, especially those whose work goes often unrecognized.

Marquis Munson Wins Best in Broadcast ABBY

Marquis (right) with Ryan Fowler

Marquis Munson was a post-graduate journalism major, working retail in his home state of California when Ryan Fowler direct-messaged him on Twitter, asking him to fly to Alabama to produce his sports radio show, “The Game with Ryan Fowler.” Marquis worked for Ryan in 2015 as an intern. Marquis bought a Greyhound Bus ticket and headed back to Tuscaloosa.

A few months later, he and Ryan won an Alabama Broadcasters Association (ABBY) “Best in Broadcasting” for best medium sports show. This award recognizes excellence in broadcasting in the state of Alabama.

Marquis is no stranger to hard work and credits his time in C&IS as a major push toward his success. His relationships with professors like Meredith Cummings and Lars Anderson helped him dive into his field and learn through experiential learning and hands-on projects.

“At C&IS, while you’re a student you get put in the field and you work. To be able to get on-air experience as an undergraduate is something that a lot of schools don’t offer,” Marquis said. “All of the professors helped me somehow in this business and still help me today.”

Marquis developed his love for sports and radio from listening to “First Take” and Jim Rome shows as a kid. He calls sports an escape from other things going on in the world.

When asked about Ryan and his relationship to the host, Marquis is quick to praise their collaboration in the studio.

“We are total opposites, but we share the bond of sports. He’s the reason I have a job in radio and our teamwork makes the show,” Marquis said. “People who are different from you can help to bring out things you didn’t know were possible, Ryan and I have that chemistry on-air.”

Marquis noted that winning an ABBY is a major professional and personal success for him because it marks his hard work paying off. The journey that he had to take was not easy but he knew that if he stuck to his path, it would all work out.

“Saying that hard work pays off is cliché, but it actually does,” said Marquis. “I tell our interns now, don’t take an opportunity for granted. Work hard and make yourself as useful as you can.”

Marquis is living his dream of working in radio as a producer. His time in C&IS offered him the learning environment he needed to be ready to jump into opportunities like his partnership with Ryan.

Moving forward, Marquis plans to keep winning ABBYs. “My job is to continue the success that we’ve had, my goal is to win again next year and the year after that,” he said. With his hard work and creativity, Marquis can be sure that this ABBY is just the beginning.

Ad Team Finishes 2nd in District 7 NSAC

C&IS’ Ad Team finished 2nd in the American Advertising Federation’s National Student Advertising Competition for District 7. This is the 24th year in a row that Alabama’s team has finished in the top four of District 7, and the 19th year out of 33 that they have finished 1st or 2nd.

District 7 includes a total of 20 universities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. This district founded the NSAC over 30 years ago and has a long, competitive history in the competition. East Tennessee State University and Loyola University finished first and third, respectively.

The National Student Advertising Competition is the premier college advertising competition, annually providing more than 3,000 students with real world experience through the production of a strategic advertising, marketing and media campaign for a corporate sponsor. This year’s corporate sponsor was Ocean Spray.

“Our team did an awesome job on their presentation,” said Jay Waters, Adviser, Ad Team. “We had had good practices leading up to the competition, and the presenters did a great job continuing to push themselves to get better. That really showed on presentation day.”

The Ad Team accomplished many of their personal goals, including improved quality of video production and creative thinking, as well as doing a better job hitting the deadlines they set for themselves.

The Ad Team is not the only award winner from District 7. Waters was awarded the Donald G. Hileman Memorial Educator of the Year Award. This honor recognizes a college educator for their outstanding service to advertising students through an advertising team, a student advertising club and teaching of superior quality.

“To be honest, I wasn’t really paying attention to the announcement,” said Waters. “When they called my name, it kind of startled me. I was completely blindsided by winning. Overall, I’m really humbled and honored to win the award.”

Waters describes Ad Team as a department-wide effort, as it has three additional faculty advisors: Mark Barry, Randall Huffaker and Janet Walker. The Ad Team also utilizes the talents of several other faculty/staff members in the process of perfecting their campaign, including Gray Lloyd and Amy Martin, who assist with video production, and Tracy Sims, Susan Daria, Teri Henley and Joe Phelps who provided insightful feedback on their presentation.

Members of the 2017-18 University of Alabama Ad Team are as follows:
Allie Burton
Mary Buzbee
Charlotte Frank
Piper Giddings
Grace Golden
Caleb Ledbetter
Hughston May
Alli Ninmann
Lindsay Rudoff
Connor Schobel
Rachel Sowell
Elizabeth Swartz
Patricia Sylvia
Nelle Thomas
Abigail Wolfe

DMC Production Team:
Alexandra Cherry
Rhianna Israni
Reagan Wells

DC Homeland Security & Emergency Management

DC Homeland Security & Emergency Management

The Communications Bureau is responsible for sharing the Agency’s story through public education, media, training seminars, social media, preparedness events, and community meetings and assists the Executive Office of the Mayor in the coordination of crisis communications during emergencies. Successful candidates will be expected to work in the following capacities: assist the Communications Bureau with its social media efforts (producing content and measuring results for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), work with HSEMA’s Community Outreach Team to plan and coordinate outreach events for District residents; assist the Communications Bureau Chief with research on emergency preparedness communication best practices; write content for websites and additional emergency preparedness products for public distribution; and assist with additional administrative tasks as assigned.


A.     Must be proficient in using digital marketing tools (social media platforms, content management system) and demonstrate ability to offer recommendations based on digital and social media analytics

B.     Demonstrated interest in emergency management and homeland security issues

C.     Excellent written and oral communications skills required (must be able communicate specific, sometimes complex ideas to supervisors and District residents)

D.     Must be proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

E.     Bilingual or American Sign Language fluent applicants will receive particular consideration

To apply for this internship or view more, visit Handshake.