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  • Adrienne Frank 4:09 pm on August 22, 2013 Permalink  

    a doggone great picture 

    D14_061_021_filterI’ve never seen a cooler work space than Geoff Silverstein, Kogod/MBA ’11, and Ross Nover’s, CAS/BA ’05. The cofounders of Friendly Design Co.—featured in Lee Fleming’s startups story—work out of Canvas, an open, shared space for creative types in Dupont Circle, which boasts video games, pinball, a chalkboard wall and the sweetest espresso machine I’ve ever seen.

    As soon as we walked off the elevator, designer Maria Jackson knew she wanted the dog (Canvas is a Fido friendly workplace) in the photo. Getting him to cooperate was another matter.

    D14_061_010When Jeff Watts said “go,” Maria would release the dog, and I would call him over to me, so we could get him in the frame. The pup must’ve sensed I’m more of a cat person because, despite my best “here doggy, doggy,” he just kept right on going. Thankfully, despite my preference for pussy cats, we still got our shot.


  • Adrienne Frank 3:41 pm on August 19, 2013 Permalink  

    sweet smell of success 

    D14_053_025A lot went into this image of Dan Doll, Kogod/BSBA ’08, and Dave Simmick, SPA/BA ’09, cofounders of Soapbox Soaps. Before Dan and Dave—profiled by writer Lee Fleming in our August issue—even showed up at our Tenleytown studio with hundreds of their sweet smelling soaps, we had to get the set up the shot. I have to admit, it was nice to lie down on the job, if only for a few minutes.

    D14_077_020Once we perfected the proportions of the photo, designer Maria Jackson and I placed hundreds of bars of soap (all label side up, if you notice—Maria is a stickler for the details) around Dan and Dave. Photographer Jeff Watts’ studio never smelled so good.

    D14_077_003The guys hammed it up for the camera and we got dozens of great shots.

    D14_053_093 D14_053_078 D14_077_009The only thing more difficult than choosing just one for the magazine was getting all those soaps back into the correct boxes.


  • Adrienne Frank 3:37 pm on August 12, 2013 Permalink  

    more WAMU memories 

    naxart-vintage-radio-microphoneSteve Keller ’69, Daytona Beach Shores, Florida

    I was a student in the class of 1969 and in (I think) my junior year, I decided to see if I could be a news reader at the station. I wasn’t very good and after the audition I was reminded that the station name was “double-you A  M  you” and not “dubbya AMU.” I read the news a few times and was asked to cover the screening of a Nazi propaganda film that had been classified by the government and was just being declassified. The film was being screened in a lecture hall in Hurst Hall.

    I took my battery operated reel to reel tape recorder in hope of capturing some of the soundtrack that could be used as a lead in to a news report about the movie. I got a seat near the back of the room. Minutes before the screening began about 10 large men in brown Nazi uniforms entered the room and took front row seats that had been reserved for them by associates. I moved to the side door nearest to them in case there was trouble. AU had a large Jewish enrollment at the time and I expected some form of taunting. You could feel the tension in the room.

    In those days we filed our reports in person, by going to the station, and for really hot news we phoned it in and did a remote. I needed to be where I could get to a phone if needed.  Most of the way through the screening Nazi flags were lowered to the ground signifying the defeat of Germany after World War I and then they were quickly and dramatically raised to a chorus of “Heil Hitler” on the soundtrack signifying the rise of the Third Reich.

    Just then, the contingent of American Nazi Party Troopers rose to their feet and saluted along with the movie. That’s when I realized that George Lincoln Rockwell, chairman of the American Nazi Party and candidate for president was among them.  At the end of the film the Nazis headed for the door and I was alongside of them. Immediately outside I caught up to Rockwell, who some months later was assassinated in front of his headquarters on Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, and I had a chance to ask him just one question: “Mr. Rockwell, Steve Keller WAMU News, Why are you here?”  His response was, “to see the film just like you.” Then he was whisked away by his bodyguards. I tried to get more as he got into his waiting car, and I nearly climbed in. They sped away before I could ask another question.

    I was disappointed, but I had one question more than the networks had gotten, so I ran to a pay phone and called in my report. After getting the scoop on the air, I delivered my tape to the station and never saw it again. AU was the center of everything in the 1960’s and as a political science major, that’s why I chose it.

  • Adrienne Frank 8:10 am on August 9, 2013 Permalink  

    WAMU memories 


    Radio_Microphone_mediumLots of readers wrote in to share their memories of WAMU. Here are a few of the letters we received in response to this issue’s “Eagle Tales.”

    Jonathan Lusher, CAS ’70

    I was the station manager of the AM station in my senior year at AU, and also worked at FM as a reporter, production assistant and on-air person. I worked for Susan Stamberg on “Kaleidoscope” which was the predecessor to “All Things Considered.” I reported on Woodstock for Susan as well as providing rock music criticism,  as well as news reporting during those turbulent times. Some may remember demonstrators turning Secretary of State Dean Rusk’s car over on Ward Circle, which I reported, as well as the several large marches and demonstrations in DC. I also had a one-hour-a-week show about what we then called “Progressive Rock” and this was probably the first such show on public radio. NPR was a fledgling enterprise at best in those days.

    This all took place at the communications building on campus, long before moving to the old WTOP building. The article in the latest magazine does not reflect the fact that the AM station was entirely student run, and it, not the FM station, was confined to the campus only.


    Adam Konowe, SOC/MA ’91, SOC adjunct lecturer and WVAU faculty advisor

    The history of WAMU  is illustrious, but let’s remember that student radio continues to this day. AU’s other radio station, WVAU, picked up where WAMU left off when the latter became an NPR affiliate. By contrast, WVAU aired via modest “carrier current” technology to the dorms for many years, including my grad school days, when I was a DJ and the operations manager. Fortunately, today’s audience is infinitely wider as WVAU reaches the world thanks to web streaming at wvau.org.


    Joe Gaunt ’62, Green Bay, Wisconsin

    Thanks to the editors of American magazine for publishing an archival black-and-white photo of a WAMU announcer at the audio console, on page 43 of the August 2013 edition.

    In response to the three questions posed at the bottom of the page, I can respond “YES!” to the first two, but regretfully “no” to the third question because I have lived in Wisconsin for more than 44 years—far out of earshot of WAMU-FM’s signal.

    Yes, I remember when WAMU debuted on the FM dial, because I “worked” at the station—as an unpaid volunteer student.  During fall semester 1961, when the FM station signed on, I was in my senior year as a broadfield communications major with a minor in education,  student teaching English and journalism at Williamsburg Junior High School (now Williamsburg Middle School) across the Potomac in north Arlington, Virginia.  Management of the fledgling FM station, including Roger Penn and George Geesey, selected students as the initial announcers who could bring to WAMU experience working in commercial radio.  I was employed on weekends as an announcer at WFMD in Frederick, Maryland, so I qualified.

    On many a long evening in the communications center built for American University by The Evening Star, I played classical music LPs on WAMU-FM, announcing nothing but the titles of the works, the artists, and station identifications.  Because the length of one side of a twelve-inch vinyl long-playing record was approximately 22 minutes, I had plenty of time between announcements to type my lesson plans for the next day at Williamsburg Junior High School.

    That’s right, the station broadcast no news, no commentary, no interviews that I can recall—just recorded classical music.  My supposition is that the university administration recognized the value of staking its claim on an FM frequency before all of the noncommercial reserved spectrum allocated to the Washington area had been snapped up by competing applicants.  The minimum broadcast schedule acceptable to the FCC in the early 1960s required the station to be on the air six days each week for six hours each day.  So the classical music was a place-holder to secure the valuable frequency until the university could determine how best to capitalize on its FM station.

    All the excitement for a 21-year-old college lad like me was down the hall where WAMU-AM, the carrier current station described in the first sentence of the American article, was broadcasting into dormitories and automobiles circling the campus.  There I had rocked away many an afternoon as “Joe Sparks” on the “Swing” program: “Afternoons are larks with Joe Sparks!”

  • Adrienne Frank 4:02 pm on August 8, 2013 Permalink  

    and the man behind the mic is… 

    DJWe asked for your help identifying this dapper deejay—and you answered.

    Randy Davis ’67, who worked at the station as an undergrad from 1963-67, wrote in with his guess: Willard Scott. Randy’s wrong, though the NBC weatherman, who graduated from AU with a BA in philosophy and religion, did work at WAMU from 1951-53.

    Several other readers guessed—again, incorrectly—that the handsome man behind the mic was George Geesey, station manager in 1961, when WAMU debuted on the FM dial.

    And then we got this email, which still gives me goosebumps:

    That young man was me in 1958.

    Ladies and gentlemen, meet David Schain, dapper deejay.

    02_25_09_505We asked David about his WAMU days and what he’s been up to for the last 50 years:

    I was fortunate enough to get the GI Bill, which allowed me to enter American University February 1957 in the School of Communications. Because I was not a great student in high school I was thrilled when I was allowed to enter AU, an event then changed my life.

    When the photo was taken I was working on a regular basis at WAMU, which was strictly an on campus station. I was also pledging Phi Ep at the time and you can see the pledge pin in the photograph. My fraternity experience was as much a positive experience as my academic work at school. I met one of my closest friends, Stuart Bernstein, whose dad, Leo Bernstein, gave me my first job after graduation.

    Even though I received a BA in communications, my first job upon graduation in June of 1960 was at a mortgage company. I worked on VA and FHA loans and inspected hundreds of houses for construction draws. I got my brokers license in D.C. and Maryland and sold houses on the weekends. Without boring you further, one thing led to another and I ended up becoming a subdivision and custom home builder and land developer: a far cry from what I majored in at AU (although I did go back and take a number of real estate courses over the first few years after graduation.) The marketing and advertising courses I took at AU helped me market the many properties I was involved with, including the Quince Orchard Swim and Tennis Cub I developed in Gaithersburg, Md.

    I was married in my senior year and after graduation moved into Summit Hills apartment complex which was almost an extension of my college dorm since several of my fraternity brothers moved in at the same time. In 1962 I became the proud parent of Dara and three years later, my son Devin was born. I could write several books about the accomplishments of my children as adults but that is for another time. I spent the next 20 plus years living in the Bethesda/Potomac area where I did a lot of home building. In 1984 I was divorced and moved to Palm Beach Gardens Florida where my experience at AU once again became an important part of my life.

    My real estate’s partner’s wife was trying out for a modeling company the evening we were planning to dine together. I was in the hotel suite where they were doing auditions and thought “I have a degree in communications, maybe I can try out too.” I went before the camera and in a few days they called me and wanted to take some photos. I became a “model.”

    I registered with an agent and got a job making six instructional videos for FPL, Florida’s largest electrical company. Using my AU training, I worked 11 days doing 209 pages of copy in the field. A few months later I met the director of this project, with whom I was very impressed, and we created a video production company in West Palm Beach called Parallax Productions. We took in a third partner who was the production manager for the local NBC station and created one of the best production companies in southeast Florida. My years of training in communications at AU was finally paying off.

    We created quality TV commercials, marketing videos, training videos and feature movies direct to video.

    My experience at AU made this a very comfortable transition from my years in the real estate business. During the 15 years that I was active in the production company as a producer , directors and sales associate, I also did talent work for other companies as an on camera spokesperson or other talent work.

    I sold my interest to my partners after this time and continue to go to castings in Miami for additional talent work.

    I have been fortunate over the years to have been involved with many projects and met a lot of great people.

    I spent six day in Barbados doing a modeling shoot as a grandfather for an upscale hotel chain and had to work 15 to 16 minutes a day. Hard work but somebody has to do it.

    02_25_09_141One of the best days shooting TV commercials was two years ago when I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and went to Miami for an 8 a.m. call time as a grandfather for a Chevy commercial to be aired in Canada and worked until 5:30 p.m. I then went to Ft. Lauderdale for a 6:30 p.m. call time and worked as the “father of the bride” for an FPL commercials. My present wife, Carolyn, also does talent work and she was the “mother” of the 20 some year old bride. We worked until 1:30 a.m. and got home at 3 a.m. with all the energy in the world.

    For the past 24 years I have been living in a country club community in Palm Beach Gardens called Frenchman’s Creek. When I am not playing golf or painting , I still go to castings in Miami which is a 3 ½ to 4 hour round trip from my home.

    Thanks to my AU training I have had many years of enjoying “retired” life in Florida.

    My friends from AU are the largest group of friends I have today and we are all grateful for the years spent there. Thanks for your time and showing the “old Schain” from college days.

    Really, is it any wonder our dapper deejay went on to become a model?

    Thanks to David for writing in, and to everyone else who shared their favorite WAMU memories, which I’ll be posting on the blog over the next few days.

  • Adrienne Frank 8:13 am on August 7, 2013 Permalink  

    AU’s globetrotters 

    IndiaAlumni Mike and Tara Shubbuck have thousands of gorgeous photos documenting their 420 day, round-the-world honeymoon. So, it was no easy task selecting just one for the magazine.

    If you haven’t checked out Mike, SOC/BA ’03, SOC/MA ’09, and Tara’s, SOC/BA ’07, blog or their Facebook page, here are a few pics to pique your interest. If you’re like us, these postcard-worthy photographs will have you hankering for adventure.

    And speaking of adventures, we want to hear yours. Send your best (or worst) travel story to magazine@american.edu by August 31 for a chance to win Hannah Lloyd’s cover illustration.



    • shj4aef 6:16 pm on August 22, 2013 Permalink

      Cool pictures! They look like something out of NatGeo.

  • Adrienne Frank 7:54 pm on August 6, 2013 Permalink  

    the last piece of the puzzle 

    Students in the Snack BarIn June we received an email from Jim Williams ’56, who identified nearly everyone (including himself!) pictured in last issue’s “Eagle Tales.”

    Today we received a note from Harl Laplace Jeffrey, CAS ’55, with the identity of the lovely lady in the polka-dot dress. He writes:

    The mystery girl seated next to Jim Williams in the photo is Mary Betschler.  She was homecoming queen in the 1954-55 academic year.  Mary was my longtime friend dating from high school.  Sadly, she died in the mid-1990s after 15 plus years of living with cancer.

  • Adrienne Frank 3:57 pm on August 5, 2013 Permalink  

    the last frontier 

    P1030528We had too many awesome photos to choose from for this issue’s “Syllabus”—definitely a good problem for a magazine editor or designer to have.

    SOC professor Larry Engel’s popular course, Classroom in the Wild: HD Alaska, challenges adventure-seeking filmmakers to push the limits of their bodies and their cameras. The class is intense; students spend two weeks on campus and 8 to 10 days in Alaska, learning survival techniques and filming micro-documentaries on environmental and wildlife issues.

    Larry gave us a plethora of postcard-worthy photos to choose from. Here are a few of our favorites:







  • Adrienne Frank 3:31 pm on August 2, 2013 Permalink  

    cover girls 

    D14_049_010One of AU’s big draws is its location. I’ve lived in D.C. for nearly a decade and I’m still in awe of what a beautiful, vibrant city it is. That’s why we love to feature Washington locations in the magazine—places you might remember from your time at AU, or places you might want to visit during your next trip to the nation’s capital.

    This issue, we wrote about Dinah Douglas, an SOC master’s student and an intern at the Newseum. Dinah does social media for the Newseum’s exhibits, including JFK, which marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. We photographed Dinah in front of a series of magazine covers featuring the Kennedys. We were drawn to the bright colors and the iconic images.

    After we snapped Dinah’s portrait, designer Maria Jackson and I posed alongside Jackie. We just couldn’t help ourselves!

    If you’ve never been to the Newseum, I highly recommend you check it out. The 250,000-square-foot, seven-story museum—perched just off the mall on Pennsylvania Avenue—blends five centuries of news history with up-to-the-second technology and hands-on exhibits. My favorite part of the Newseum is the collection of newspapers, which line the exterior of the building. Each day, the museum features the front page of a newspaper from each of the 50 states. I collect newspapers (including some my grandma passed down to me marking Kennedy’s assassination), so I always get a kick out of seeing the day’s headlines. You can also check out the gallery online.

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