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Published: Tuesday, 4/21/2009

The University of Toledo

Advances in technology happen daily. Some, such as the staggering improvements in wireless communication, affect us all.

Other innovations may not be as obvious.

We were looking for an entertaining way to bridge the gap between innovations you might know about and innovations on the cutting edge of science and technology, said Lawrence Burns, vice president of external affairs and interim vice president for diversity and equity at The University of Toledo. After discussions with WGTE, the concept for Plugged In was born.

Plugged In is a television program featuring student reporters from UT. A new episode of the show, which is presented in a 30-minute newsmagazine format, airs each month.

We d been thinking about how we could bring science and technology education to the public in an entertaining way, said Darren LaShelle, WGTE Public Media s director of TV broadcast services and executive producer of Plugged In. As we monitored innovations in our community, we met people at The University of Toledo doing some marvelous things that affect not only our community, but people all over the world.

Plugged In offers an opportunity for UT s student-reporters to present news in an entertaining format. The focus is on crisp writing, interviews with UT experts and a freshness that has emerged as the reporters learn in tandem with their audience.

Topics have ranged from how UT students are contributing to the process of bringing fresh drinking water to impoverished countries, to the impact of artistic creativity on cognitive learning, to a how-to instructional for bringing solar energy to the average home.

The amazing thing about Plugged In is the natural talents our students bring to the show, Burns lauded. Neither of our hosts majors in communications or broadcasting. They just have an openness about them that makes them effective in front of the cameras.

Jennifer Mondelli, a UT sophomore, is the show s co-host. With a major in speech language pathology, she might seem an odd fit for a television program. During the audition process, however, Mondelli s ease in front of the camera caught producers eyes.

I had participated in speech, debate and theater in high school, Mondelli explained. I love the adrenaline rush that performing gives you. Plugged In is a great outlet for that.

Mondelli hadn t performed in front of a camera before. She quickly learned the basics of reading teleprompters, imagining her audience on the other side of the lens and mindful interviewing techniques.

I ve loved learning all the behind-the-scenes tidbits, Mondelli, who said she ll stick with her major, revealed. It s been an incredible trip so far!

The show s focus on innovation allows it to present segments from a unique perspective. LaShelle recalled a segment titled A Sensitive Skyway: Building Bridges That Can Troubleshoot Themselves.

We reported on the sensors incorporated into Toledo s Veterans Memorial Skyway Bridge to provide feedback on strength and structure, LaShelle commented. That s not something you think about when you drive over it every day.

This Little Product Went to Market detailed the process of getting an everyday item from the manufacturer to the shelf at a local grocery store.

We took something that people do every day buy something at the store and gave it a different perspective, LaShelle said.

Viewer reaction has been positive. Episodes are being utilized in area schools because of their short, succinct presentation.

Viewers of all ages are enjoying the program, LaShelle said. They wish it was weekly!

New episodes of Plugged In air at 8 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month on WGTE TV 30, channel 9 on Buckeye CableSystem, channel 3 on Time Warner Cable Waterville/Perrysburg and channel 8 on Time Warner Cable Bowling Green.



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