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Trump’s shocking win not a media failure

Andrew

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November 12th, 2016

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Let’s get something straight.

Donald Trump’s shocking election win was not a failure of the media.

Surveys conducted by pollsters on behalf of major networks showed Hillary Clinton with a sizable lead for weeks, consistently.

Somehow, the fact people voted differently than what they publicly stated suggests all journalism is dead.

Doomsday calls comparable to cinema’s imminent death in the face of the VCR.

The media did everything right, by the book, just as it’s always done.

It rightly called out Trump’s homophobic, racist, and xenophobic comments.

The same type of statements that would’ve sunk any public figure up until this point.

He was given equal coverage as the Grand Ol’ Party’s presidential nominee.

Journalists attended every rally even though Trump denounced all media and incited violence towards reporters.

The divide stands now as this blur between what’s socially acceptable and how Trump’s supporters wanted to be viewed.

“I know what Trump says is wrong and there could be consequences for me if I say the same things,” they may think.

But, you know, the idea of white people being powerful again and all minimum wage positions being filled by white people is what is really appealing to them.

“They’re coming here to steal all the jobs, they come here to take the good jobs and the service jobs we need to fall back on.”

Why do you think those in the Ku Klux Klan wear their ghostly white robes?

So, it’s no surprise that when polling companies contacted people, they verbally communicated support for Clinton.

Voters in the United States just didn’t want to admit they agreed with a bigot.

Results from the election have now made it socially acceptable.

It seems so basic, but social media gave everybody a voice, and in turn it validated that personal opinion inside.

It was supposed to advance intelligent conversations.

That’s why we’ll march and protest Trump’s election to the most powerful job on the planet.

It doesn’t mean we’re Hillary supporters when we oppose oppressive, violent comments from a 1960′s vantage point.

We watched you protest President Barack Obama and call for his birth certificate.

We stood by and didn’t engage when you called us “libtards” just because we don’t support Trump or Harper.

The day after Justin Trudeau was elected Prime Minister of Canada, a Facebook friend complained he had already ruined the country.

When I asked for an explanation, I was provided nothing but insults.

It’s wrong to label a leader as a failure before they have a chance to prove themselves or when cold hard facts support the success of their administration.

Calls against Trump’s sexual assault bragging, or plans to remove established human rights, are based on facts.

It’s based on the billionaire winning with less votes after claiming the election was rigged.

We insult the bigoted candidate through fact while supporting the far-right’s right to free speech, but they insult “the left” simply because of how they feel.

Debate is healthy, but we’re not having any of it and it’s damn impossible when one side shuts down the conversation immediately with a hateful comment.

The official televised debates didn’t progress any issues, either.

What we finally saw was all the hate that was always there, just stewing away inside the less educated.

No, the media didn’t fail. Society did.

Media: Stop covering the Westboro Baptist Church

Andrew

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June 13th, 2016

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It won’t be gun control or an end to mass shootings in America.

If there’s one good thing that can come from the hate crimes in Orlando, it will be an end to news coverage of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Predictably, the hate group attached itself to the latest headlines, not that they had anything new to say.

Just their usual “God Hates Fags,” “Thank God for Dead Fags,” and “God Sent the Killer.”

Why does this single family of haters from Topeka, Kansas, the Phelps, continue to get so much coverage?

No other hate group gets the same kind of attention.

There’s no reason to take them seriously.

No value to their words or thoughts.

They are not an officially recognized church, they’re just branded as such instead of a cult.

It’s not just LGBT people who they target.

The people they hate includes Catholics, Jews, Muslims, politicians, and soldiers.

But if you’re trying to find them online, it won’t be at westborobaptistchurch.com.

No, you’ll get to their official website at godhatesfags.com.

They picket outside funerals of soldiers and celebrities, and the headlines follow.

The Phelps were even set to protest outside the funeral of Tim McLean, saying God caused the Greyhound bus killing because Canada legalized same-sex marriage.

Their sick and twisted views say homosexuality should be a capital crime and that people in the LGBT community should be put to death.

When you categorize a group of people and devalue their right to humanity, you’ve crossed a line.

I refuse to put power to their words, knowing their opinions are delusional, hateful, and flat out wrong.

But the mainstream media doesn’t get this.

After this latest tragedy that plays right into their agenda, I call on all media to stop covering the Westboro Baptist Church.

Their rhetoric does not change. They have nothing new to say.

All you will get from clicking on stories about them is poison.

You generate ad views and revenue, in turn telling mainstream media you want this opinion.

It is just the same old hate speech recycled by the cult’s work to attach it to the latest headlines.

Is that really news? No, it always happens.

We know it’s going to happen like clockwork, and we know it fuels ‘lone wolf’ madmen like Omar Mateen.

I call on all media to stop covering the Westboro Baptist Church and to proudly declare it.

We can still cover something actually newsworthy about them, such as the death of one of the Phelps.

That’s a death that can be celebrated if there is one.

I’m not convinced there actually is, but what good does a hateful statement like the above do?

We need to stop calling their rhetoric free speech and it needs to be labeled the vitriol that it is.

If there’s one thing we can do so the deaths of the following are not in vain, it is to put hate in its place.

It is to smother the flame so it is extinguished.

Rest in peace, victims of senseless violence. We will not let let your death be for nothing.

  • Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34-years-old
  • Stanley Almodovar III, 23-years-old
  • Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20-years-old
  • Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22-years-old
  • Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36-years-old
  • Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22-years-old
  • Luis S. Vielma, 22-years-old
  • Kimberly Morris, 37-years-old
  • Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30-years-old
  • Darryl Roman Burt II, 29-years-old
  • Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32-years-old
  • Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21-years-old
  • Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25-years-old
  • Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35-years-old
  • Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50-years-old
  • Amanda Alvear, 25-years-old
  • Martin Benitez Torres, 33-years-old
  • Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37-years-old
  • Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26-years-old
  • Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35-years-old
  • Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25-years-old
  • Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31-years-old
  • Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26-years-old
  • Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25-years-old
  • Miguel Angel Honorato, 30-years-old
  • Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40-years-old

Photo courtesy Paul M. Walsh (Wikimedia)

I’m sooo thirsty, Cineplex

Andrew

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July 8th, 2015

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Anyone who has ever met me knows how much I love movie theatres. Often, it’s more about being at the cinema for two hours then it is about whatever I’m seeing.

Yet, I’m starting to get so turned off to the experience. I’m their core audience, and yet I’m being completely alienated.

This alienation has been going on for about two years now, in hindsight. I started to notice it in early June when I ordered a large drink at Eau Claire in Calgary, but received a medium.

“No, that’s our large size now,” the concessionist told me, “and we just stopped doing refills.”

Probably has something to do with the their absorption of Famous Players (the gold standard). Today, Cineplex controls roughly 77% of the movie screens in Canada.

The news about Cineplex shrinking all their drink cups, but leaving the price the same, kind of blew up today in the media.

The 44oz. large size is being replaced with 32oz., the previous medium size. That’s a nearly 25% reduction.

Yes, I want the 44oz. size because I’m in the building for over two hours eating salty popcorn (which has gotten much saltier as of late).

That’s not my only beef- it’s a whole different story once you reach your auditorium.

Have you noticed the lights just flick off at showtime now? All the light bulbs have recently been replaced with LED bulbs and it just so happens those bulbs don’t dim.

Often, these lights don’t even rise for the credits, and if they do turn on in time, you go from total darkness to light.

Gone are the beautiful curtains. We haven’t seen those since Famous Players slapped up all the SilverCity theatres in the late 90′s.

I still remember how awesome it was for the picture to hit the sparkly curtain as the lights faded, for it to open and reveal the massive screen.

Yeah, I get it. Cineplex wants to show ads. Got to achieve that quarter-over-quarter growth no matter what it takes.

It’s still a lack of showmanship. Their job is to put on a show, not turn the TV on and flick the lights off while we play unsupervised.

Which brings me to another point: theatres have abandoned something called “masking.”

That wall of black surrounding the screen- well, it moves. It changes the shape of the screen to be more square shaped (“flat”), or super wide screen (“CinemaScope”).

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The only problem is Cineplex doesn’t use it anymore. They leave the masking open and project the picture with black bars.

Basically, it looks like the 52″ TV in your living room, and it looks even more jarring with 3D movies.

Ask anyone who was a projectionist (the job has largely been replaced with button-clicking managers) and they’ll tell you it’s a cardinal sin to ever show a naked (blank) screen.

I guess the maintenance on motors is too much expense.

Now, let’s talk about these “premium” experiences. Most chains have their own brand: Landmark Cinemas Xtreme Theatre and Cineplex UltraAVX.

They promise an even bigger screen, and the latest evolution of Dolby surround sound. With an up-charge, of course.

It’s nice that with the move to digital over film projection, we can push beyond a screen width of 60′ more easily, but it’s hardly worthy of being a “premium up-charge.”

This should be the latest evolution in the moviegoing experience, just like cupholders, stadium seating, 70MM projection, or the original digital sound: sometimes your movie is playing in the big house, sometimes it’s playing on the 30′ screen with 160 seats.

Don’t even get me started about the multiplex IMAX theatres, which have screens a fraction of the size of a true IMAX screen. They’ve rightfully earned the nickname¬† “LieMAX.”

Then as I touched on above, the ads. I know everyone likes to bitch about the ads, but seriously make it part of the Cineplex preshow.

There’s nothing separating the preshow with the feature. The lights flick off, they keep showing 30-second spots and you can’t even really tell that the show has started or what the difference is.

No excitement for showtime, no attention to detail, definitely not an experience.

I’m thirsty not just for the drink size I’ve been buying from you (or Famous Players) for nearly two decades, Cineplex, I’m thirsty for the moviegoing experience.

The business has changed dramatically, but the business model is the only thing that hasn’t.

I won’t be buying a drink when I go to the movies now- it’s just not going to happen.

Stop being so cheap Cineplex. You’re not going to lose me, but it’s not a very pleasant relationship we have together these days.

If you alienate the masses, they’ll just vote by not returning. Once they walk out those doors pissed off, it’s nearly impossible to get them back. Just ask Target.

READERS: What are your memories of going to the cinema, and how does the “experience” compare today?

UK Schoolboy Discovers New Planet

Andrew

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June 12th, 2015

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The BBC reports 17-year-old Staffordshire schoolboy Tom Wagg has discovered a new planet.

He sifted through 1,000 data sets looking for dips in the light of distant stars when he came across a good candidate.

It took two years to confirm Wagg’s discovery of what’s now known as WASP-142b.

The planet is a “hot Jupiter,” a planet similar to our own Jupiter, but one that’s migrated extremely close to the host star.

An official naming contest is soon to kick off.

Read the full BBC article here.

(Artist depiction courtesy NASA)

Heavy Flower Planters Stolen From Restaurant

Andrew

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June 9th, 2015

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The owner of a Winnipeg Chicken Chef is shocked two heavy flower planters disappeared from outside her restaurant’s front doors.

It happened just before midnight Monday on Portage Avenue near the west Perimeter Highway.

Lori Lucas (above) says the existing security cameras caught some footage of the suspects and their red truck.

“It’s surprising because the pots must weigh 150 pounds each and we’re right on Portage. We have a 24-hour hotel next door. You can see cars coming and going in their parking lot, so someone has to have seen something suspicious.”

Now she plans to cover her property with upgraded closed-circuit systems.

Lucas says it also follows several incidents where her restaurant has been targeted in the last three months.

In one case, copper pipes and tools were stolen from a company repairing the eatery’s roof. Other times the building has been tagged with graffiti.

“I just want the disrespect to stop. We’re hard working people just like everyone else.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Lucas at 204-832-3900. A reward of $500 will be given for any information leading to an arrest.

(Photos courtesy Lori Lucas and Alexa Chobotar)

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thrusong.com turns 6

Andrew

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August 8th, 2014

The first version of thrusong began being developed somewhere around February 2008 in the harsh Dacotah, Manitoba winter. It launched August 8, 2008 (08/08/08) and was followed by version 2 in December. In May 2010, the third version of the site launched and was a complete overhaul. Where the first two versions were more of a filesharing site for loops, the new version made it easy to stream and connect around files, profiles, or completed tracks.

Version 3 saw a huge boost in traffic but engagement went down and began faltering. I pulled the site in January 2012 and began re-developing it from scratch, this time including music making tools. Version 4 launched July 1, 2013 and has been enormously successful: As of today, in a little over a year, version 4 has served over 111,000 pageviews and streamed over 42,000 song listens.

Version 4 has music making tools never before seen on a social website- thrusong has truly pioneered social songwriting, allowing any visitor to make songs with the same tools heard on every song played on the radio.

I think what has made thrusong.com so successful is that it doesn’t get in the way of pros, but also lets any average person create real, polished songs. Not musical? Well, just hum into the site and turn it into a rocking guitar or synthesizer riff. Want to bang out a drum beat? Use the built-in Pulse Drum Machine. Check the videos below!

Thank you to everyone who’s been along for the ride over the last six years.

Psycho City Begins Filming in August

Andrew

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July 12th, 2014

I’m pleased to announce production is starting on my “Psycho City” TV series pilot in early August.

This 47-minute dark drama takes place in the not-to-distant future, when government has collapsed and abandoned neighbourhoods in a city have been reclaimed by squatters, killers, and violent criminals. It stars Dominique Tremblay, Michael Thiessen, and Stephanie Thiessen.

psycho_city_cast

The core city, known as Uptown, or The Kingdom, is a Gotham-esque post-industrial city in decline, plunged in perpetual night. With only about 30% of the population left, the abandoned outskirts outside The Kingdom are dangerous territories. It’s a show about mistaken identity and mistaken betrayal.

We’ll be shooting on DSLR at 24FPS, with Technicolor’s CineStyle profile. This isn’t only because the film look has depth and a classic feel, but also because shows like Six Feet Under and Breaking Bad were shot on 35mm. We’re aiming for a cold, dark, and gritty overall feel like those shows.

All the scenes are being shot at various locations in Winnipeg. The outdoor scenes will be shot in St. Boniface (the St. Boniface Industrial Park, in particular) and the Exchange District. In total, 25 scenes will be shot with some 20 performing actors.

A handful of these roles will be shot in September and still haven’t been cast.

The pilot will have an official debut and will also be submitted to festivals. A KickStarter campaign might also be sought to fund the rest of the first season’s 13 episodes.

Stay tuned to this blog for all the updates. If you’re interested in being an actor or an extra, please email [email protected].

 

Saying good-bye to the Globe Cinema

Andrew

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June 16th, 2014

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The credits finished rolling, the studio logo flashed, and the screen went dark. The last few audience members shuffled out and that was that- the end of the Globe Cinema.

I wanted to applaud. I wanted to cry. Instead, I shuffled out silently, too. The last customer to walk out of the Bijou.

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It’s the second time the triplex in Portage Place has ceased operations, but I fear it’s also probably the last. I’ll remain hopeful that’s not the case.

I’ve always wanted to own a movie theatre. My mom recently showed me a drawing from grade 1. I had drawn the Famous Players St. Vital box office facade. The Portage Place theatre, with its unique decor, was a big part of my childhood, too.

I remember seeing Free Willy, which was put on for the city’s elementary school patrols. Other classics included Pocahontas, Grumpy Old Men, and Toy Story. Titanic was my first experience seeing gigantic lineups wrapping around the mall’s top floor (and any theatre, for that matter).

I even held a job at the Globe back in its early days- the summer and fall of 2003, before my family moved out of town. More on that in a bit.

The closure of the Globe should be alarming. With the Towne 8 on the inner edge of the Exchange District, there is no cinema in downtown Winnipeg.

Long before the Walmarts arrive, a movie theatre is something a small community can support. They’re centres that bring a community together, inclusive to the community at large unlike places of worship which bring together segmented communities.

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Our cinemas connect us. They’re places we’re struck with laughter, with tears, or with awe. We sit in the same seats, see the same screens lit by new films destined to become classics.

It wasn’t always an in-out, big box retail experience devoid of any feeling because it’s been designed to maximize profit. As the 26-year-old complex shows us, it wasn’t even that long ago the cinema still played a part in the show. For over a quarter century old, it’s still incredibly comfortable, up-to-date technologically, and nicely decorated.

In Febraury 2004, having lived in the country for a couple months, I called the Grant Park theatre and asked when the Odeon Drive-In would be hiring for its season. They said it wasn’t going to open that summer. I broke word to Randall King (who interviewed me for his front page article), signed the petition, and ended up being hired there that summer. For the 2006 season, I was Assistant Manager. I ran the projector every night I worked and just loved spending as much time there as I could.

My next stop was SilverCity Polo Park, a theatre I attended on opening day. I was Projection Team Leader and loved the job. I still miss it, but theatres have moved from film to digital and the job no longer exists.

But that brings me back to the Globe. In my six months there was when I first learnt projection. I mastered those ancient projectors (they were old, but good, when installed for the theatre’s opening in 1987).

Even it had moved on to digital in the past couple years, silencing the projector’s purr at the back of the auditoriums as it hammered through the reels of film.

I always loved that sound.

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Still, I’ve long felt the space wasn’t living up to its potential. When I worked there, we experimented with midnight shows. We ran A Clockwork Orange one Saturday night, for $5 a seat, and packed the house. The 35mm film print was so brittle, it kept snapping and shutting down the projector every two minutes.

After the first reel, the condition improved and we got through the rest. The audience didn’t even care. It was just part of the fun.

I think The Rocky Horror Picture Show should’ve been a semi-regular Saturday midnight feature, too.

There was a Facebook page that was short lived, so the theatre had next to no social media presence. It had a membership club with discounts earlier in its life, but that program was discontinued.

We also had a booking of the first Matrix reboot sequel. It didn’t really fit the arthouse format of the Globe, but it easily packed the house.

One of the ways the Globe debuted in town was with a roadshow of Sing-A-Long Sound of Music. I didn’t sing, but I did have fun, and that packed the place, too. The long line-ups for the women’s washroom resulted, for me, in the odd experience of having nuns behind me at a urinal.

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But yes, in the last few years, I’ve seen the Globe get quieter. An industry metric says most theatres last about twenty years before being completely overhauled or, most usually, replaced by a new location somewhere else. Perhaps a lower traffic area like Portage Place Shopping Centre just lowered this life expectancy (the original Famous Players operation lasted 14 years).

I didn’t think it was going to last forever, but because (rumour had it) the Globe paid very little in way of rent as an incentive to stay open (I’ve seen this numerous times mentioned in Morley Walker articles, Free Press comments, and online forums), I thought it would kind of just chug along in a break even position for longer than just until last night.

We’ve lost a charming, cozy theatre. Every comment online surrounding the closure was sadness for how great the theatre was. It seemed like there were ways to tap demand for the venue.

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If you’ve read this blog, I was moderately successful running my own drive-in on a barn. If I could have my dream and finally open a real theatre, I would love for it to be the Portage Place Cinema. I’d replace every second row with a countertop for dining, put a small commercial kitchen in one of the mostly unused stock areas with a small menu similar to Original Joe’s or Moxies (such as burgers, steak, blackened chicken), and get a liquor license. A VIP theatre downtown, made to be more of a event destination, with underground validated parking.

And since I don’t have anywhere near the money to do that, I do just hope someone will take another go in the space. Movies were always better in the downtown theatres.

Introducing thrusong

Andrew

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July 4th, 2013

This upcoming school year, I’ll be launching and marketing thrusong.com as my Independent Professional Project. The website is finished and I’ve soft-launched it with a few songs from fellow CreCommers, notably Country Luke Reimer and Luke Jacob. More are on the way.

webscreen_479

On the homepage, you can play the piano. Inside the site, you’ll play your notes and generate a real riff in any kind of sound: guitar, drum, bass, or synthesizer, some with a thousand different sounds. Songwriting can be done by yourself or with a group of people, with various privacy settings.

You can publish your creations made with the site or elsewhere and potentially climb the charts. On the song pages, which are similar to YouTube video pages, you can stream songs in full, buy a permanent copy, or pay to unlock the full recording. More than 80% of the revenue goes directly to the artist. There are no other costs to the site.

I’ll be blogging more this summer and school year to explain some of thrusong’s features and how to use the site. If you’d like to tryout thrusong.com, just enter you email address on the registration page.

Being Drawn Back To Journalism

Andrew

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April 17th, 2013

This week I watched the live Boston Marathon coverage from the minute I got home until late into the night. I felt tingly and even teared up at one point as I watched the footage. It was when I saw a camera guy stationed at the finish line catch the blast. This footage was embedded on the Winnipeg Free Press site and was decked with Boston Globe branding at each end of the video.

This camera guy ran to the barricades decked with flags of the world and caught glimpses of people with limbs savagely blown off laying in the street. His reaction was confused devastation. It made this situation so real and human and plunked me right down in the middle of the attack.

Oddly, it was something I hadn’t felt in a long time. That’s an awful thing to say, but I truly am desensitized to school shootings and terrorism attacks in the middle east, though I never could watch the Magnotta video nor did I try.

I came into this program wanting to do journalism, particularly broadcast journalism. As a kid, I always imagined writing for the Free Press or throwing back to Barbara Lee Edwards on CKY 5, and I was encouraged far back in school by English teachers to pursue CreComm even though I was a hard student to teach. CreComm was exactly what I needed.

Then I got into the program and the talk that dominated most of this school year was journalism is a dying craft. We saw the Free Press layoff a lot of young talent and opinions turned kind of dark for a while.¬†Then it felt like a whole lot of scrambling went on to After that, there was the perception among my peers that there wasn’t any money in journalism anymore and the program was scrambling to bring in seasoned journalists to convince us otherwise control some of the bad PR floating around among students.

As a result, only 13 students have decided to major in Journalism next year, but I’m not one of them. It’s starting to feel like a mistake. Fortunately, I picked Media Production, which is something that does truly interest me, and we do get to spend our full Thursdays putting together a news cast either on or off camera.

So, we’re out of RRC for the summer after this week and I’m forging ahead with Media Production, but I’ve rediscovered my passion for journalism and can’t wait to start learning broadcast journalism class and the inside out of television and radio. I discovered this semester that I actually love writing and reading radio news.

Have a great summer, everyone. I’ll check in periodically and will keep updating my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Andy Mac out.