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Radio Students Are Voice of MCCC as They Create Commercials for the Airwaves

12/19/18


From left, students Lauren Bragat and Olivia Cammarata with Professor Mitch Canter in the radio studio.

Cammarata, left, and Bragat say they were a natural fit as creative partners. Both are enjoying the validation that comes from hearing their commercials on the airwaves.

West Windsor, N.J. – If you are a frequent radio listener, especially WPST (94.5 FM), you may have heard commercials with this sign-off: “This commercial was produced by Mercer students.”

This semester, the two students behind Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) 30-second radio spots for spring registration and the state’s new free tuition program are Lauren Bragat of Plainsboro and Olivia Cammarata of Hamilton, both of whom took an Audio Production class with Professor Mitch Canter, coordinator of the Communication and Radio programs.

MCCC Director of Marketing Francis Paixao says the commercials are more authentic than the ones his department traditionally wrote and then paid an outside firm to produce. “When we reached out to the Radio program about a year ago, we thought it would be a good way for students to get some real world experience while creating authentic material to promote the college and the Radio program. We are happy to be working with them.”

Bragat recalls her excitement when Professor Canter told the class about the project. “I really liked the competitive element," she said. "Usually we are working towards a grade. We took this assignment even more seriously and really focused on producing our best material. The idea that an audience would be listening was a real incentive.”

Canter explains that each semester the class is divided into teams that compete for the Marketing Department’s approval. “Their creativity, their production skills, their work ethic – it’s all put to the test,” he said.

After the three teams of students met with the marketing staff to discuss overall themes, they got to work.

Cammarata and Bragat proved to be natural partners. “We worked really well together. We brainstormed individually over a weekend and then met up and threw out some ideas,” Cammarata said. Bragat added, “We thought about what would interest us. We are the target audience.”

Bragat notes that sometimes in school, students learn things that are interesting, but not always relevant to their career goals. “For this activity, we used everything we had learned in class. We put our knowledge into action.”

The students found that 30 seconds was not a lot of time. “We really had to make sure to hit that mark. We had to cut some material,” Cammarata noted.

Once the three teams completed their commercials, they played their respective pieces in class and each student contributed feedback and encouragement. Then the marketing team reviewed the three sets of commercials and selected both of the ones created by Cammarata and Bragat.

“We were excited. This was validation for us,” Bragat said. Both women are considering careers in broadcasting. Listen to Bragat's and Cammarata's winter registration spot here and their free tuition spot here.

In the three semesters since the initiative began, the college has used approximately a dozen student commercials. Students whose work is selected are paid for their 30-second spots, which typically run for five weeks. In addition to WPST, they can be heard on WIMG (1300 AM) and, occasionally, on New Jersey 101.5.

Canter sees the assignment as a chance for his students to experience how actual productions are evaluated every day. “Their work is being evaluated by professionals who don’t care who did how much work or what’s going on in the class. They have one interest. Does the work achieve its goal?” Canter observed. “Students learn that the real world of media production is competitive and that we can learn from success and acceptance, as well as critique and rejection. It’s good for students entering the world of radio or audio production to gain that perspective.”

The project is also a resume builder, especially for the winners. “They can play their commercials for a prospective employer and confidently say: ‘This spot aired on three radio stations to promote Mercer County Community College,’” Canter said.

“It’s been a great collaboration so far,” Paixao said. “With students writing the scripts and doing the voice overs, we believe the messaging is more relevant for Mercer’s target audience – young people considering their college choices. The selected work is being used on live radio in one of the largest markets in the state.”

According to Paixao, the response to the commercials has been extremely positive. “We have heard from many people who say they have heard them. And, since every one ends with ‘This commercial was produced by Mercer students,’ that’s a solid endorsement for the Radio program and the college as a whole.”

Enthusiasm for this partnership is likely to continue, with two classes expected to participate next semester. “As new students enroll in this course, we are able to stay current and get a fresh take each time,” Paixao observes, adding that he has already marked his calendar to meet with students early in the spring to discuss commercials for next summer.

A.A.S. in Radio/TV

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