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Opinion

‘Focus on U’ invites big names for second spring episode

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March 7, 2014

The second episode of “Focus on U” just came out.

Things got off to a slightly different start than normal with the return of the opening sketch segment, Studio 113. In seasons past the show would feature these fan favorite segments, which would model themselves to a format similar to that of “The Office.” This new Studio 113 has the host of the show, Rob Brecher, trying desperately to get a sip of soothing coffee, something that proves rather difficult as he gets interrupted by a slew of off-the-wall characters.

The Studio 113 segment also featured a black-and-white motif, which harkens back to silent film comedy legends like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.

But perhaps the most noteworthy thing about the second episode of “Focus on U” comes in the form of its high-profile interview guests, Ryan Stridde of NFL Films and Eric Deggans of National Public Radio.

Stridde talked about his journey from UW-River Falls student from 2004 to 2009 to award-winning audio technician for NFL films.

He cited the school’s field and studio production courses as well as his time spent with “Focus on U” as some primary sources which prepared him for his immensely successful occupation.

Eric Deggans sat down with “Focus On U” Host Rob Brecher after giving an interactive presentation called “Race, Media and Stereotypes” to discuss the lecture he gave at UWRF as well as his book “Race Baiter.”

In the book, Deggans talks about how the media has the ability to wield dangerous words and how certain media outlets use prejudice and racial stereotypes to draw viewers to their media platforms and keep them from going to others.

Deggans said he got the title for the book “Race Baiter” from a time when Bill O’Reilly called him that on his show in 2008. Rather than take O’Reilly’s remark negatively, Deggans chose to wear it as a badge of honor. Deggans has remained a consistent critic of how O’Reilly discusses race on his show, “The O’Reilly Factor.”

When asked about what part of his education in journalism helped him the most in his profession, Deggans responded by saying that he took a class in journalism ethics late in his college career in which the teacher had them read “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media,” by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky. Deggans cites the book as “absolutely essential” for understanding how modern mainstream media models work.

Deggans also talked about how college students looking to succeed in the real world should have a plan as well as openness to opportunity.

To cap off the show, singer-songwriter Tom Estrem performed an uplifting musical number about escaping from one’s own personal demons into a new and brighter day.

Estrem’s melodic voice and acoustic guitar combined to make a haunting number which felt hypnotic and entrancing. An interesting note, Estrem’s guitar featured a slew of autographs from bands all over the Twin Cities area and more, which was just one of the factors that added to his novel presence on the show.

You can find this episode and more on the show’s YouTube channel FocusOnUTelevision. You can see this episode on daily at 9 a.m., 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. on local access channel 119 for campus residents and channel 19 for those living off campus.

Matthew Ford is a student at UW-River Falls.