Full Sail

Students Participate in ESPN Radio Think-a-Thon

In another collaboration between Full Sail and ESPN, two students teams were recently named winners of the first ever ESPN Radio Think-a-Thon. Students were asked to come up with 8-minute presentations pitching new products and ideas for how ESPN could enhance the ESPN Radio user experience inside the car.

The Think-a-Thon kicked off at the ESPN Sessions meeting in mid-January, where students across multiple degree programs were given the requirements and formed teams. After submitting a video of intent and an initial idea pitch, 16 teams (made up of both on-campus and online students) created initial pitches and presented them to a panel of Full Sail faculty members. After feedback and a second round of pitches, the field was narrowed down to six teams who made it to the final round: an in-person pitch to 14 ESPN Radio executives.

During the final presentations, which took place on February 26 in the Entertainment Business Conference Room, the six teams (including two online teams, who presented via GoTo Training) shared with the executives a wide range of practical and creative ideas for the ESPN Auto experience, including interactive applications, personalized dashboard consoles, immersive advertising experiences, HUD technology, safety features, and more. After each pitch, the teams fielded questions from the executives in attendance.

"The presentations from the students were thorough," said Kevin Plumb, ESPN's Vice President of Audio Technology. "I was impressed by the research they did on the current ESPN Audio offerings and how they tied that into their presentations."

After a couple of days of deliberations in Bristol, Connecticut, the executives decided to choose not one, but two winning teams: Sports Marketing & Media and Web Design & Development (now called Web Development) students Nathan Dixon and Alex Shaffer; and Team Misc. (pictured above), made up of Entertainment Business students Karon Cooper, Blake Indof, Fernand Milord, and Jonathan SImpson.

"These two presentations contained the most concepts that bridged a balance between what ESPN Audio is doing today and future audio features that are just seeing the light of day in public media," says Kevin.

Nathan and Alex's pitch targeted a young demographic with an in-car ESPN Radio experience that featured user customization, safety features, and a simple interface. Team Misc.'s presentation highlighted technologically-advanced features like "Stoplight Highlights," video clips displayed on the user's windshield while his or her car is in park. According to Entertainment Business Program Director Eric Saperstein, who helped organize the Think-a-Thon, the winning teams will now combine forces and continue to work with ESPN on the development of the project.

"There's no better definition of a real world project," says Eric. "These students were actually pitching to ESPN Radio executives. The experience doesn't get any more real than that."

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