On the Radio

October 1, 1997

Mark Miester

As the final seconds of the first half wind down in the Superdome, Tulane Football Radio Network announcers Ken Berthelot and Steve Barrios are ready for the halftime radio show. In past years that meant first-half highlights and possibly an athletics-related interview or a sponsorship spot, but this season fans got a surprise: Welcome to "Inside Tulane," a weekly news program about Tulane from the university's news bureau, with your hosts Debbie Grant and Tom Grady. . . .

"Inside Tulane" [no relation to this publication] is a 15-minute news report about the university that will air on the Tulane Football Radio Network each week during halftime. The report, which debuted on Sept. 6 for the Cincinnati game, was launched to keep Tulane fans and alumni up-to-date on news, research and happenings at the university.

The program typically includes a four-minute university news segment along with features on faculty and staff. The first show reported on the size and quality of the 1997 freshman class; Tulane's ranking in U.S. News & World Report; Donald Gatzke, School of Architecture's new dean; and University College's Elmwood campus.

The feature portion included an interview with Peter Ricchiuti, an assistant dean at the business school and director of the Burkenroad Reports. The debut of "Inside Tulane" corresponds with an expansion of the radio network to 15 stations across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. According to Berthelot, assistant athletic director of broadcast properties, the idea for devoting halftime to university news originated during a spring tour sponsored by alumni affairs, athletics and development.

"When we went to different markets in Louisiana and around the South, we would hear that they just couldn't get enough information about Tulane. When we'd talk to them a little more, we'd find out that that meant not only athletics but also other information about Tulane. With the enthusiasm surrounding the arrival of Tommy Bowden, we thought that this would be a golden opportunity to expand the radio network and then use the network as an information source for alumni."

Tulane athletics allotted more than 90 percent of its halftime show to the Office of Public Relations. Debbie Grant, director of public relations, and Tom Grady, public relations specialist, produce and host "Inside Tulane" and offer a broad coverage of Tulane news. That's a point Berthelot feels is important to emphasize.

"We want people to know it's university information, not just athletics information," he says. "Our athletics radio network can be used as an important source of information on Tulane University. So if you're an alumnus in Mobile, suddenly you can listen to halftime and have an understanding of what's going on at Tulane."

In addition to the halftime show, the athletics department is involving the rest of the university in other ways. Five "equal partners" were signed to sponsor Tulane football this year: the president's office, undergraduate admission, alumni affairs, University College and athletics.

For its sponsorship dollar, each department gets two minutes of "infomercial" time during the game. Sponsors are free to break the time up into 30-second or one-minute segments, and also to produce the kind of spots that will suit their particular needs.

For example, "Alumni affairs changes their message every week," says Berthelot. "We put the people of alumni affairs on the air live, so if you're in Mobile or Shreveport, you're hearing the live voices of people in alumni affairs talking to you during their infomercial segments. You're also getting news about alumni affairs at halftime."

While "Inside Tulane" is scheduled for an 11-game run, its season may be extended into March. Berthelot hopes to continue the program into basketball season.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000