MTSU students gain ‘real world’ experience with Bonnaroo partnership


Middle Tennessee State University’s partnership with the annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival continues to grow, thanks to the addition of about 40 students and the university’s $1.7 million Mobile Production Lab.

This year a blend of electronic media production and recording industry students, with faculty and staff supervision, are joining forces to operate video, audio and editing production gear for Bonnaroo’s Who Stage for four shows each day.

Ken Paulson, dean of MTSU’s College of Mass Communication, forged the partnership in 2014. It began with a small group of students.

“MTSU had a very positive partnership last year, and we were asked if we could build on that,” Paulson explained in an interview. “We’re grateful for their support, because it gives our students a singular education opportunity unlike any other.”

The video production group, now tripled in size, isn’t new to the demands that come with working a live event in what some students refer to as “The Truck.” In the past few years, the college has worked concerts with Capitol Records, performances at Loveless Cafe, and events at Schermerhorn Symphony Center among many others.

Students are working alongside industry professionals to produce multimedia content for the four-day event. The team is gathering vital experience by using state-of-the-art video and editing equipment, but also by learning from mistakes along the way.

MTSU student workers gather behind the university’s Mobile Production Lab parked alongside the Who Stage at this year’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. (Photo: Dylan Skye Aycock / MTSU Seigenthaler News Service)
MTSU student workers gather behind the university’s Mobile Production Lab parked alongside the Who Stage at this year’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.
(Photo: Dylan Skye Aycock / MTSU Seigenthaler News Service)

“There’s always the chance for a few small troubles, but everything is running smoothly for the most part,” said MTSU graduate student Paula Hernandez, who is working audio for the festival. “This is such good practice for the students, because we’ll be more prepared for real jobs.”

Like Hernandez, Devan Kochersperger, graduate student in recording arts and technologies, also is working audio. He says the opportunity also opens the door to connect with potential employers while gaining “real world” experience along the way.

“We’re doing a scaled-down version of what they do in the big leagues, but we also get to work with professional sound engineers as well,” Kochersperger said. “We’re dipping our toes in the pond of what is, hopefully, future employment.”

This weekend follows a one-day symposium hosted by the university last October featuring Bonnaroo co-founders Ashley Capps and Rick Farman and their entire leadership team, who discussed the mechanics and logistics of the festival.

Also adding to the MTSU presence is a group of about 10 students who are contributing daily stories and photos for The Tennessean, Murfreesboro Pulse and Sidelines, MTSU’s student newspaper.

This article was published in cooperation with the Seigenthaler News Service. To see the version of this article that ran in The Tennessean, click here.

To see our full archive of Bonnaroo coverage, click here.

For more updates, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter/Instagram at @Sidelines_Life.

To contact Lifestyles editor John Connor Coulston, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

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