The Center for Media Innovation + Research

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When I was in high school, all anyone cared about was getting in to the University of Florida. So this became my goal as well even though I grew up rooting for Virginia Tech and Penn State. But after getting to UF, my full intentions were to be a history major and become a lawyer or teacher.

After my first semester on the history track, I just wasn’t feeling it. What attracted me to history in the past was not so in college; I needed a change. One of my other loves was sports. I had to figure out, if I want a career in sports, what major is the best path? This began the path down telecommunications. And it’s been a fun ride.

I signed up with ESPN 850 WRUF (then called WRUF Sportsradio 850, and then ESPN Radio 850/900) since I love sports and always have.

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ESPN 850 WRUF, or “the third floor”

It’s volunteer work and not an official class although you do receive one credit for working there. From doing sports updates to participating in Cheap Seats, the student-run talk show, it’s been one of the best experiences for me at UF. But I’m don’t slump my shoulders when doing news either. Working for WUFT in both my radio and TV classes have really opened my eyes to the world around me outside of sports. Before telecom, Gainesville didn’t mean a thing to me. But after seeing all these places and meeting all these people from around town, I can see it in a whole new light.

One of the other most important things I learned as a telecom major was how demanding a business it is. There’s a lot of work to get done and in this age of converged media, there’s fewer people to do it. This might make life difficult, but I always felt more proud when the work got done. One addition my junior year which blew my mind was the new innovative newsroom in The Center for Media Innovation + Research. Now everybody in radio and TV and journalism are all in the same facility. It is beautiful. Before, we were in a few separate, dinky rooms. It felt a little claustrophobic. From here on out our entire program can work as a functioning unit in an absolute state-of-the-art workplace.

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Innovation News Center

I rarely have felt such a purpose in something I’ve done than when I am working in telecommunications at the University of Florida. The life of a broadcaster is hectic but also rewarding. You get to help speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. You help decide what is the news. That is a lot of power and as long as I continue in this business, I will take that responsibility seriously.

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More Highlights! My Review of “The Tipping Point”

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

The Tipping Point is the first book by journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell and is considered by many to be one of the most influential books in recent memory. It sets out to explain why epidemics of social change tend to spread. The main thesis here is that these “viruses” are spread because small groups of people know how to make big social connections and people can use micro pieces of good judgment to reach a macro audience. It was an entertaining read that helped explain things that on the surface seem obvious make more sense when analyzed. And yes, the copy I got from the library was filled with annoying highlights just like my last book review. (Seriously, who writes in a library book?)

According to Gladwell, a tipping point is “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” In reference to our world it is the moment when a fad becomes a phenomenon. Gladwell says there are three types of people who make this happen: connectors, mavens, and salesmen. Connectors are the ones who know almost everybody and can make introductions, mavens are the talented ones and are great at disseminating new information, and salesmen are just so damn convincing you have no choice but to believe them. It should be noted that these groups make up 20 percent of the population as per the 80/20 rule where 20 percent of individuals tend to do 80 percent of the work. This part of the book resonated for me because we all know examples of who would fall under these categories. If I had to choose one for myself it would probably be salesman. I’ve always enjoyed debating when something was weighing on my mind and it made me realize how much influence these skills can have on our society.

This book is littered with case studies to illustrate the main point. In the introduction Gladwell examines Hush Puppies shoes and its parabolic sales in the mid-’90s. Word of mouth spread and to make a long story short the brand became popular again. When discussing the stickiness factor, which demonstrates the element of a certain content that makes it so addictive, he focuses on young kids’ programming like Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues. These shows, Gladwell says, are revolutionary by using a combination of narrative structure and repetition to help young children actually retain information. The final rule of epidemics in this book is “the power of context.” I think this factor is a bit of a cop-out because anything can be tied to context. But still, what Gladwell talks about here makes sense. Our environment can strongly influence our behavior.

There are several other examples in this book that I don’t need to get in to. A common criticism I’ve seen is that Gladwell relies on anecdotal evidence too heavily instead of going into scientific detail. But I’m okay because this book is not designed to enlighten the scientific mind; it’s designed to reach the average human being. It serves as a reminder to anyone who gets discouraged thinking only those with unlimited resources can make a difference. I think this can be applied to blogging or any other self-serving business. Everyone starts small but by doing a bunch of little things right and making the right connections, you can get the word out.

UF Bloggers Part Deux

There are a lot more people in my class with several I didn’t mention in the first go around. Here is the work of a few more.

Jason Spain Here is one of the sports blogs we have here at UF. I think brings a unique perspective to his site. It mostly revolves around football, with a lot of Gator influence (but not totally). An interesting piece he wrote was a look at the quarterbacks we’ve had at this university and the lack of racial diversity. And everything is well-written.

Aviela Weltman Being Jewish it’s nice to see a blog about Judaism. And it’s nice to see to see a blog from someone I went to middle school with in Jacksonville. Aviela talks about her experiences at Chabad which I’ve been to a few times over the years.

Brittany Bassler Brittany is originally from Philly where my dad’s family hails and lives in Jacksonville. So that’s awesome. Her blog is dedicated to wildlife and has a nice backdrop. She talks a lot about Florida bears and panthers and focuses on wildlife conservation issues, which are important in today’s world.

UF Bloggers

I feel lucky to share a class with a lot of creative telecom people who do a ton of great work both in the newsroom and on the interweb. Everyone works really hard and has helped make the UF College of Journalism and Communications such a top-notch program. So, without further ado, I’d like to showcase the blogs of a few of my classmates.

Patrick Colden Ever get bored in the city of Gainesville? Look no further than FuN Gainesville where Patrick talks about different cool things to see. Several of them have to do with nature which I find interesting. Plus, there are tons of pictures and videos.

Shane Chernoff Shane has a food blog that I would say is pretty comprehensive. From sushi to 4Rivers barbecue this tells you all about where you can eat around town, no matter what you’re craving.

Amanda Di Lella Here is another food blog but with an emphasis on how to eat healthy. Unless you’re like me and have the fastest metabolism the world has ever seen, chances are you’ve thought once or twice about eating healthier and maybe losing a pound or two. Here is the perfect place for you. Blog posts include how to snack, avoid cravings, and even preparing meals ahead of time.

My Life In Words

Mitchell Wohl

Mitchell Wohl‘s grand story began with humble beginnings in Richmond, Virginia all the way back on May 14, 1992. It was a close call considering he was supposed to be born in late June. But we won’t wear you down with the tear-jerking elements.

Moving to Jacksonville, Florida at the age of eight, Mitchell’s life took off. He defined himself by a love of sports; best of all was baseball and the Boston Red Sox. But historically, this was a recipe for depression. This was illustrated exquisitely in 2003 in the American League Championship against the hated New York Yankees. It was a dead heat until the bombshell went off: Aaron Boone Game 7.

Ok, so there’s one more tear-jerking element.

But in a dramatic role reversal everything changed the next year when, in the same matchup, the Sox were down three games to none and were faced with an impossible climb. You know what happens next. Papi hits it out in Game 4, is the hero again in Game 5, and the Sox runaway in Game 7 for the greatest moment in this young man’s life.

Another thing got into around this time was acting after his parents enrolled him in an acting class. Mitchell worked on this craft for the next several years. This culminated in a performance as Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls in the seventh grade.

While not pursuing theater as a career, it continues to be a hobby for Mitchell. He is in the a capella group The Staff at the University of Florida and is taking classes as a theater minor.

Mitchell isn’t sure what lies in the future but is excited to find out.

Stars On Broadway

What do Of Mice And Men, Betrayal, No Man’s Land, and Waiting For Godot have in common? Other than the fact that I had to read all of these plays in high school, they’re all being revived this fall in New York with A-list casting.

I’ve already brought up the subject of Bryan Cranston as LBJ. But like a whirlwind of awesomeness, this apparently just scratches the surface of what’s coming to the Great White Way. It was confirmed yesterday that film actor James Franco and Chris O’Dowd from “Bridesmaids and the IT Crowd (have you tried turning it off and on again?) will star in John Steinbeck’s classic Of Mice And Men as George and Lennie, respectively.

Chris O'Dowd, James Franco

Chris O’Dowd, James Franco

You’ve probably heard  the expression “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.” Well that’s just what happens in this tragedy about two migrant workers who keep looking for work in the 1920s.

In another inspired pairing, Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellan will alternate shows in a combined run of Waiting For Godot and No Man’s Land.

Sir Ian Mckellan, Sir Patrick Stewart in Waiting For Godot

Sir Ian Mckellan, Sir Patrick Stewart in Waiting For Godot

These two works are far more of the existential variety and have both been praised and criticized for their obscure meanings. Written by in French by Irishman Samuel Becket, Waiting For Godot is about Vladimir and Estragon who spend the entire play waiting for someone named Godot. But he never shows up. That’s it. People have often wondered whether or not Godot is a reference to God, but Becket denied that until his death.

And if that weren’t enough, James Bond himself Daniel Craig is currently on Broadway with his wife Rachel Weisz  in a production of Betrayal by Harold Pinter (who also wrote No Man’s Land).

Rachel Weisz, Daniel Craig

Rachel Weisz, Daniel Craig

Betrayal is about a torrid love triangle. But what makes this play unique is that it’s told backwards, told from the end of a couple’s marriage infidelity to before it even started. It even inspired a Seinfeld episode The Betrayal. It’s also about a love triangle (and a wedding in India) and, you guessed it, is an episode that takes place backwards.