Communication Studies Students Spread Their Wings in Weekly Political Talk Show

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

It’s not every day student journalists get the opportunity to interview a state leader. Hosts of UNCW’s “WingSpan,” a weekly political talk show produced by communication studies students, had that chance when they sat down with Lt. Governor Dan Forest.

Tess Bargebuhr, a senior majoring in communication studies and double minoring in journalism and Spanish, was one of the students who interviewed Forest about education in the state and his economic policies recently on campus. Prior to the interview, she and members of “WingSpan’s” student crew were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the executive mansion, the Hawkins-Hartness house and the NC General Assembly in Raleigh.

“WingSpan” primarily focuses on university and local issues. The chance to discuss issues that affect all of North Carolina was a great opportunity for students, said Bargebuhr.

“Rather than just reading about or listening to lectures about the statewide politics, I realized how important it was to interact with the people directly involved,” she said.

Students enrolled in associate professor Jennifer Brubaker’s upper-level Media and Politics class are responsible for every aspect of the show. The class prepared for the episode by familiarizing themselves with some of Forest’s policies and initiatives.

“I think ‘WingSpan’ is providing a very important service, especially for college students,” Bargebuhr said. “We've been really lucky with the opportunities we've had on ‘WingSpan’ this season and we are very excited for the second season!”

UNCW communication studies students launched “WingSpan” in September. Through the project, students learn about relevant issues from the people directly involved and apply their knowledge to examine the media's role in the political process. The show is sponsored by ETEAL, a program designed to enhance and enrich student learning.

Season one topics included media and politics, political campaigns and campaign management, controversial laws of North Carolina, gender bias, crime in the Cape Fear Region, environmental issues and economic development. The program will return next semester.

“WingSpan” airs on The Learning Network (TLN) at 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and is also available online. Follow “WingSpan” on Facebook and @UNCWingSpan on Twitter and Instagram.

-- Venita Jenkins