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Giving Her Campus a “Voice”: Student Launches a Digital “News Hub”

Amanda Marie Ferrandino and her mentor Deborah Greh, Ed.D. at the BOLT Radio Station
Monday, November 6, 2017

For Amanda Marie Ferrandino, a junior at St. John’s University, “everything came together” when she enrolled at the Staten Island campus. The location was perfect, near family and a quick ferry ride to Manhattan. The atmosphere was ideal, too—a close-knit community that encourages creativity.

One thing was missing. “News,” said Amanda, a Communication Arts major who will graduate in 2019. “I thought we definitely should have a way to share the latest news with our students—coverage that’s immediate, accessible, and specifically focused on the Staten Island campus.”

So began The Bolt Productions, which Amanda named for Johnny Thunderbird, St. John’s mascot. The new Internet news channel features podcasts that she and her fellow students create in a new digital lab the University built to support their efforts. Launched in early October, the studio already features six podcasts staged like radio shows. Ultimately, the multimedia platform will include films, videos, and other content.

“This is an information and entertainment hub for the whole campus,” said Amanda, who assembled a team of 10 student producers representing a variety of majors. “We put the shows together and oversee everything ourselves.” She expects the effort to attract even broader participation. “It’s not just for the students—it’s by the students.”

Amanda originally considered doing a radio show but decided that podcasts and other digital media were the way to go. First, she needed new production facilities. “There already was a communications lab for radio shows, broadcasts,” she said. “We needed special, up-to-date equipment for this project.”

She reached out to Deborah Greh, Ed.D., Professor and Director of Communication Arts in St. John’s College of Professional Studies. “This is a small campus,” said Dr. Greh, “and I get to know everybody. I could tell that Amanda was serious about this.” 

The project gained support from Katia Passerini, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Professional Studies, and James O’Keefe, Ph.D., Vice Provost of the Staten Island campus. “Amanda is a very special student, with a clear vision of her professional goals and a willingness to work hard,” said Dr. O’Keefe. “It was good to collaborate on this. Now, the Staten Island campus has a ‘voice.’”

Dr. Passerini approved funds for the updated lab, which is located on the second floor of the DaSilva Academic Center. After installing workstations, microphones, and other equipment this past summer, engineers trained Amanda and her team to use them. “You couldn’t get much better experience for the job market or graduate school,” Amanda noted.

Amanda, already has an edge as a creative professional. An assistant on the Wendy Williams Show, she served as a production intern on Sesame Street, appeared as an extra in the Paramount film Staten Island Summer, and wrote a series of children’s books. “I love work, I love people, and I feel blessed to be at St. John’s,” she said.