The Radford Pitches

We all know that we have to put our hearts and efforts into things in order to complete things to our fullest capabilities, and that is especially true for the Radford Pitches, RU’s a cappella club. They put their heart into their music and each other, and it shows.

“It’s awesome to work with a group of people that share the same passion as you! My favorite part of being in the pitches is when we randomly create mash-ups of songs. We just make it up as we go, and experiencing that creative energy is so much fun,” said sophomore Sanou Diallo.

Some of the Radford Pitches are voice majors, who help those who aren’t voice majors and give good tips on how to improve. Whenever someone in the group has a recital, you’ll be sure to see a few of the Pitches in the audience cheering them on.

“They [The Radford Pitches] are very supportive. There are times that someone needs help with school, or needs a ride or setting like that, and we are all there to help,’ said Vice President, junior Ben Sherman.

The Pitches was founded during the 2013 school year and has been becoming more and more popular amongst the students and faculty at Radford University. The A Cappella group practices every Tuesday and Thursday in the Covington Center for two hours and are run by music director Jonathan Stoots. However, it doesn’t always feel like practice. It gets really fun and entertaining for the Pitches when they start adding choreography to the music and vocals, which gives all of the members of the Radford Pitches the opportunity to get even more creative with the songs they learn each semester.

“Part of the practice is meant to have more of a relaxed, hangout feel. Other parts are more for getting down to business so we are prepared for performances,” said Sherman.

Working hard does pay off for members of the group, as Diallo recalls her most favorite experience as a member of the Pitches from their concert last year, when they sang “Run to You” by the a cappella group, Pentatonix. “The acoustics in the hall were great, and the song just built and sounded so beautiful,” said Diallo.

The A Cappella group has one concert a year, but also sings at Radford University events such as basketball games, baseball games, and at the Veteran’s Day ceremony. When they perform at those types of events, they usually sing the national anthem in front of at least 500 people. While the group is still fairly new to the Radford campus, they hope to have more performance opportunities within the next year.

If you ever get the opportunity to see them perform, whether it is a sporting event, concert, or holiday affair, you can tell that the Pitches are really passionate about the group and put a lot of time and energy into their overall sound, and try to constantly improve their overall sound and chemistry, on and off stage.


Snow Day at Radford University (FROM SPRING 2015)

RADFORD, Va. – Radford University experienced its first snow day for the 2014-2015 school year on Feb. 16, 2015, with a prediction of up to eight inches of snow lasting until the following night, giving Radford students and staff the day off.

When students are given snow days, there are multiple activities that they can choose to do. Some like to go outside and take pictures or enjoy sledding or having snowball fights.

Many enjoy staying in with a cup of hot chocolate and a good movie or book or rather like to go to a friend’s house and spend the day there and just hang out. However, the most common activity students at RU do on snow days, is celebrating the snowfall with friends.

Freshman Stephanie Seitz was really looking forward to the snow. “Sledding is the best thing to do on snow days because it’s really fun, especially if you down headfirst,” said Seitz.

Seitz is a social science major, currently living in Tyler Hall. This was her first experience with snow at Radford, and the first thing she did when it started snowing hard, walked around campus with her roommate and frolic in the snow.

On average, the city of Radford gets about 16 inches of snow, two inches above the average snowfall for the state of Virginia, according to

“The C.O.B.E. [The College of Business and Economics] is the best place to go sledding! It has a lot of hills, which would be fun to go down,” said senior Laura Dannemiller.

The C.O.B.E. building officially opened in the fall of 2012 and is currently one of the biggest buildings on Radford University’s campus, residing on top of a steep hill.

Dannemiller is a public relations major, currently living in an apartment on light side. She has experienced multiple snowstorms while at RU and really loves spending her snow days with her friends at her apartment.

The time frame that students choose to spend playing in the snow or being outside during a snowstorm varies on how much one likes that type of weather. Some students only go outside to get food; others will go outside to just appreciate the weather and play in it as well.

“I probably spend an hour outside during a snow day. Once my clothes start getting wet I quit,” said Seitz. In contrast, Dannemiller said that she spends three or four hours in the snow, and whenever she gets really tired and just want some hot chocolate she goes inside.

When universities close, it causes the issue of whether or not their regular activities and school transportation services will still be available to their student body.

For Radford University, on Monday, their transit buses stopped operating at 5 p.m., and the Radford Men’s Basketball game against Coastal Carolina scheduled for Monday as well was changed to only being open to RU students who are able to walk to the Dedmon Center.

Closing the university also changes the hours of operation for Radford University’s dining halls for students living on campus. The Bonnie Hurlburt Student Center and Dalton Hall remained open for students until 10 p.m on Monday.

In the past years at RU, students usually have snowball fights in front of Heth hall, the center of the university’s campus. “It’s the best place to play in the snow; you can play with more people,” Dannemiller recalls.

For example, last year many students participated in a huge snowball fight on Heth lawn, consisting of about 30-40 students, according to Radford University’s Facebook page.

“The snowball fights are the best. I remember how intense it was last year on the Heth lawn, and it’s safe to say, everyone who walked by was a target,” said Dannemiller.

Monica Levitan cell: (240)-393-2726


Murder Mystery Night at Radford University (FROM SPRING 2015)

RADFORD, Va. – Radford University students walk in Muse Banquet Hall as themselves but enter the “cocktail party” as someone else. Everyone is a suspect for the “murder” of the Radford Highlander, and two detectives are determined to find out who would do such a horrible task.

On Friday, March 27, 2015 from 9 p.m. to midnight, students were given the opportunity to take part in this hilarious impromptu experience that engages and allows them to meet new people and spend time with friends.

Junior Shieh Freeman was really excited to take part in this brand new late night activity. He was seen walking from table to table introducing himself as the name he was given for the show and had a big smile on his face. “It’s a good place to meet new people and be funny and just have fun,” Freeman said.  Untitled

Attendees were given masks, mustaches, gloves, necklaces, and other artifacts that gave their alternate persona a personality.

Murder Mystery Night ended up being a very popular event. Radford Student Programming and Campus Events, R-SPaCE, planned for 150 students to attend, but over 180 students came! They had to lie out chairs on the sides of the banquet hall so everyone had seats.

The two detectives gave the audience instructions throughout the show such as, “Walk around the room. Everyone you meet you is suspicious of…but say so using Gibberish words. Actually, say the word lamp in a suspicious voice towards everyone you see,” one of the detectives said.
But how did R-SPaCE find this comedy duo? “We [R-SPaCE] go to NACA every year and saw the Murder Mystery men perform and we were really interested in them. We asked if they could come to Radford and they said yes, which is awesome!” said sophomore Melissa Brown, who is R-SPaCE’s Director of Late Night.

The Murder Mystery Men did two shows at Radford University that Friday night, each completely different than the other. The detectives do each show in a way where the audience decides who the murderer is and everything that happened in between.

This was the first time that the Murder Mystery Men came to RU, and it was a big success. “It brings students together and entertains them. It’s something different that they can do on a Friday night instead of going out or even staying in to watch Netflix,” Brown said.

After each show, R-SPaCE provided a buffet complete with free dinner and dessert food for the audience to enjoy.

The audience was very engaged and active in how “the murder” was completed. Several students went on stage and acted out dances and impromptu scenarios that the audience believed happened when the murderer “killed” the Highlander.

The people who went on stage were the suspects of the murder case and the audience decided who should stay on stage and whom they don’t believe did the horrible deed.

Once there were three suspects left on the stage, people from the crowd began developing how each suspect supposedly killed the victim. The audience then voted on whom they believed the murderer is, and then acted out the actual killing scene.


Monica Levitan (240)-393-2726

Melissa Mollet Profile (FROM SPRING 2015)

When one thinks of traffic, they tend to only listen to the busy highways that are near them. For her, she knew what was going on in Interstate 270 since that is what is closest to her, but she also knows what is going on in Route 66, I-95, and other roads that aren’t nearby.

She wakes up at 3:05 a.m. She gets dressed, does her hair and leaves her home in Maryland and drives to work. At 4 a.m. she already went through security, parked her mini cooper, and quickly said hello to the receptionist and hurried to her office to finish getting ready for her workday to begin.

As she puts on makeup, she talks to her assistant about what has been going. They look at all of the monitors that are showing the current status of highways in the District of Columbia area and are listening to the traffic chopper that’s flying over different roads. Her assistant sits in her office and tweets constantly on her twitter account @First4Traffic, aiming to tweet around 80 tweets every morning. Melissa Mollet smiles, as she prepares herself to get ready to do her favorite thing in the world, report the morning traffic on NBC.

As a 2001 graduate of James Madison University with a Bachelor of Arts, Mollet has always had a passion for the wonderful world of communications. She says she always wanted to do something on television and was really involved in clubs while at JMU. She helped with the school newspaper but spent a lot of her free time with JMU’s broadcast club, JMTV.

Mollet has worked for many new stations, such as Cable News 21 in Rockville, Maryland; WHAG in Hagerstown, Maryland; Channel 7; KDVR in Denver, Colorado; WJLA, and now NBC. She says she gained most of her skills from Cable News 21 since it was her first job after college. “I had no idea what I was doing, and I was thrown into it. I had to learn how to write, to make beat calls—calling different police departments,” she said.

She also had to learn to make sure the teleprompter doesn’t go down in the middle of the show, and especially how to deal with people. “When my boss wasn’t there I was kind of in charge of the newsroom,” Mollet said.

How Mollet got to where she is today is actually very interesting. She had an internship at Channel 4 in 1999 and kept in touch with people. “I was kind of harassing the assistant news director Frank Caskin, and he finally said, ‘you know what why don’t you send me your stuff since your back in the area, maybe we’ll need you,’” she said.

Mollet ended up freelancing at NBC for about 3½ years, working just a couple days a week on general assignment news. “Last May they came to me and said, ‘we have an idea, how would you like to do traffic? You’re from here, you’re a reporter and we want a reporter that’s able to do traffic,’” Mollet said. She has been doing traffic for NBC for 10 months and enjoys every day at the “office”.

In her office, Mollet describes what’s around her. She calls her office a “closet” because it is secluded from everyone else. Her office has two rolling chairs, three “desks”, lots of monitors and screens, papers and notes on the walls, pictures of her son and of her winning an Emmy for “Best News Report” in 2013, and a clock. She says that all four stations in Washington DC share the same traffic chopper, and each station has one month every few months where they can control and talk to it. “It is our month this month, so we control the chopper and we have a chat that goes over here,” said Mollet who gestured to her right where a laptop is on a table. “We’re typing, ‘Chopper’s going to 66 right now there’s a crash blah, blah, blah’ to all of the other stations, so we’re always on that chat in the morning.”

Sos7W8Dv_400x400Looking back, Mollet recalls why she decided broadcast journalism and working for NBCUniversal was what she wanted to do as a career. “I watched Channel 4 growing up and I remember seeing the news and being very intrigued by the news, and thinking I think I can do that. I want to tell people stories,” Mollet said.

Walking through NBC is quite an experience; there are friendly faces everywhere. There are areas where writers are looking online for news stories, and anchors and reporter’s cubicles that are arranged by the time they go on air. Going behind the scenes, you see staff testing audio and reviewing news packages. Through every room, everyone can hear the director’s voice talking about what he thinks about certain things.

While getting a tour of the newsroom, Mollet’s boss, Brian Callahan introduced himself and reflected on how he sees her. “Melissa is a joy to work with every day. I wouldn’t even describe it as work when talking about Melissa because she makes it all so easy. Melissa is real. She isn’t fake at all. She is very grounded. What you see is what you get. This helps her connect to the viewers. What the viewers see is someone who is smart, professional, strategic and fun. Melissa really cares about the stories she tells.  She isn’t on TV to just be on TV. Melissa does what she does to make people’s lives better through her story telling. Thanks to Melissa, our viewers become smarter, learn about people in their community, get to work on time and avoid potentially dangerous situations on the road,” Callahan said.

In one room, you see morning meteorologist Tom Kieran talking to staff about what he will say when he goes live, and in the studio, you see different things going on. The studio includes the anchor’s desk, a table where interviews are done, and two singular areas where TV screens and places for reporters to stand.

In the studio, morning news anchors Aaron Gilchrist and Barbara Harrison goes through a rehearsal for their intro and outros for the stories that they will discuss later at 11 a.m. Across from them are a green screen area and a man sitting behind a lot of equipment, working the teleprompter and makes sure that all of the cameras are facing the correct way, and monitors how everything will look on television.

After finishing rehearsal, Aaron Gilchrist was able to talk about Mollet for a little bit before going to his office and doing some work. In the green room, where special guests usually sit before they are needed on set, Gilchrist sits down and starts to think about Mollet. “I’m a big fan of Melissa. I mean it seriously. I think there are people in this business who become characters you know, on screen. But Melissa is one of those real people who don’t change on the screen. She knows how to keep it real and comfortable on and off the air,” he said. Gilchrist describes Mollet as smart, funny, intelligent, disarming, comfortable, and has all the qualities in a good broadcast journalist.

When asked what her best interview was, Mollet had to really think about which one that would be. “A kid that I interviewed in Denver. I did a five-part series on him in the end. Initially, the story was high school kids in a car crash. One high school car hit another high school car, and one girl died. It ended up where the girl who died was the passenger in this boy’s car, and when this boy got out of the hospital he was really messed up. When he got out of the hospital I got an interview with him and we just sort of struck out this friendship/he trusted me. We did a lot of stories about his rehab and the other girl being charged in the case. We sort of took it to a different level; it wasn’t just this crash anymore, it was more intimate. In the end, I actually ended up being able to help him, which is what I always hope to do in a story. His insurance wouldn’t pay for a wheelchair, so I got a company to donate a wheelchair to him. He also had severe scarring on his face, so I got a dermatologist to free laser on his face. It’s nothing that we air; it’s just through me knowing his needs. Contacting people who would be interested because I was in the media,” she said.

Every reporter has had experiences on the job that did not go as planned, and Mollet definitely has had plenty of those occurrences. “I was live once and an intoxicated man came up behind me and started dancing and was trying to push me over and out of the way. So it was interesting—I had to say, ‘We’ll be back in a minute’ and my photographer had to sort of intervene and push him out of there,” said Mollet, and laughs.

Mollet says that she looks up to her parents because of how committed, driven, hard working, and is as supportive as one could be. She is most proud of her transition from news to traffic because she had to learn where to walk, what to point at, and adjust from what she was doing previous to traffic. Her greatest accomplishment is her five-year-old son named Brennan, who she says she is prouder of than she is of herself.

When asked if she had any advice for people just entering broadcast journalism, she said, “I would say, read as much as you can, write as much as you can, be interested in news. Have your five or six sites, it can be Radar Online or the Washington Post. It doesn’t have to be the New York Times. Be interested in something and look at it daily and find people you like to read. Know what you’re getting into. Get as much experience as you can with internships. Know that it may not be easy hours; it may not be high paying. Know that you may have to move. If your hearts in it, at the end of the day you’ll be happy with your career choice. There’s always going to be a need for information, it’s just how well it will be disseminated.”

Mollet lives in Rockville, Maryland with her husband, son, and dog, Norm.