Q & A with Alumna Cori McCulloch
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” a children’s television series created and hosted by Fred Rogers. In June, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” a documentary about the life and guiding philosophy of Rogers, was released prompting a wave of reflection and compassion in social media chatter.
Cori McCulloch (BSJ, 2014), a marketing coordinator for Fred Rogers Productions, is the voice of the company on social media and is on the receiving end of this chatter. A Pittsburgh native who grew up watching “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” she can easily relate to his fans. In addition to managing social media for Fred Rogers Productions, which produces shows like “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Peg+Cat” and “Odd Squad,” McCulloch manages web content for fredrogers.org, and helps to coordinate “Be My Neighbor Day” with PBS affiliates all over the country.
With childhood memories of watching “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” what does it mean to work for Fred Rogers Productions now?
It’s kind of surreal. I grew up in this Pittsburgh bubble where I didn’t realize that everybody watched Mister Rogers. It seems cliché that everyone that works for Fred Rogers Productions is kind and empathetic, but it’s really true. I feel like I’ve become a more emotionally literate person. Being able to contribute to something that was so essential to my childhood, but also contributing on new productions and being able to provide resources to help parents have meaningful interactions with their kids – that is really special. Being in the grocery store and hearing a kid sing a strategy song from “Daniel Tiger” never gets old.
How did you land the gig at Fred Rogers Productions?
Honestly, I just applied. My major was visual journalism, and I originally wanted to be a documentary filmmaker. Before Fred Rogers Productions, I worked at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. I started really liking strategic communications and social media, and I gained a lot of knowledge about child development. I think that helped pave the way for my career at Fred Rogers Productions.
What is it like managing social media for children’s programming?
We’re not really marketing to kids because they don’t have social media – we’re marketing to their parents. I’ve been able to find my way in this complicated space of showing that we have something fun for kids, but that a child’s developmental benchmarks and concerns are also taken into consideration very purposefully.
What are your ultimate career goals?
My career goals have changed dramatically over the last five years. I never thought children’s media would be my calling. The beautiful thing about where we are right now with media and technology is that there are no more traditional paths. You can take your skills and apply them to whatever cause you’re passionate about. You never know where you’re going to end up, things might change and that’s ok.
What is it like working for the company during the 50th Anniversary?
The 50th Anniversary is exciting and challenging. There’s no better way to learn on your feet than when you’re in an international spotlight. I recently posted a clip of Mister Rogers buttoning his sweater. He’s singing and starts to giggle because he started on the wrong button and he says, “Do you ever make a mistake? Because sometimes I do, and it’s ok.” Droves of people reached out to thank us, commenting that they really needed that reminder.
In the small day-to-day, we still need to hear what Mister Rogers has to say. Just because we’re adults and have responsibilities doesn’t mean we’re above these basic reminders for ourselves and others. During the 50th Anniversary, we’re having conversations about why he’s so relevant, and it’s because these are basic human things that we deal with every day.
Frank Clark (BSJ, 1969) is enjoying retirement in St. Augustine, Florida. He continues to play tennis four times a week.
Ron Guziak (BSJ, 1968) retired this spring after a nearly 50-year career in public relations, development and health care administration. He retired as President/CEO of Sun Health Services, the largest nonprofit provider of senior living services in Arizona and is now in the process of writing his first book with the working title of “Everything I Know I Learned as a Caddie.”
Lynne Schwabe (BSJ, 1965; MSJ, 1971) is the director of development for the WVU Eye Institute in Morgantown, West Virginia.
Catherine Helean (BSJ, 1978) is a chief marketing officer in Alabama.
Hoppy Kercheval (BSJ 1977; MSJ, 2005) is celebrating his 41st year with the West Virginia Radio Corporation. He is the vice president of operations, as well as a talk show host.
Richard Lee (BSJ, 1975) is currently freelancing and teaching English as a second language. He hopes to teach English overseas this year. He is a retired journalist.
Charles Mason (BSJ, 1977) retired from newspaper work on June 1, 2017, after 40 years in journalism. He last worked at the Bowling Green Daily News of Bowling Green, Kentucky, where he served as a police, education, and business reporter for the past five years.
Kathy Palokoff (BSJ, 1975) has released a motivational howto book called, “Firestarters: How Innovators, Instigators, and Initiators Can Inspire You to Ignite Your Own Life.” The book provides insights into the difference between people who make things happen and those who only think about making an impact. Palokoff is the chief ignitor and owner of goFirestarter, a consulting company that provides strategically-driven content.
Kristen Emery (BSJ, 1988) is a meteorologist for KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Jeff Hertrick (BSJ, 1981) was promoted to director of digital video operations at National Geographic in Washington, D.C. He has worked for the company for 16 years. In 2017, Hertrick also joined the faculty of Northwestern University at the Medill School of Journalism as an adjunct lecturer at its Washington, D.C., location.
Delice Weaver (BSJ, 1983) is a marketing coordinator for Launch Federal Credit Union in Merritt Island, Florida.
Marc Davis (BSJ, 1999) is a coordinating producer at SNY in New York, New York. Jeff Geisler (BSJ, 1993) is the chief marketing officer at Crispin Porter + Bogusky.
Assad Khan (BSJ, 1999) is the director for undergraduate student affairs at George Mason University College of Science in Fairfax, Virginia. He works in radio as well at DC101. He earned his master’s degree in Higher Education from George Mason, and he and his wife welcomed their son, Aydin, into the world in March 2018.
Melissa Kress (BSJ, 1993) was promoted to senior news editor at Convenience Store News in Jersey City, New Jersey. She joined the business-to-business magazine in November 2010 as associate editor and was previously promoted to senior editor.
Philip Maramba (MSJ, 1993) is a research and writing specialist for FEMA in Charleston, West Virginia.
John Shepard (BSJ, 1995) was promoted to vice president of Tower Operations at TelConn Inc., in Parkersburg, West Virginia.
Rick Smith (BSJ, 1990) published his first short story, “In Organ Cave Where Tina Danced,” in the Boulevard Press anthology “Warp: A Speculative Trio,” in May 2016. He also published his first novel, “Times Squared” (a licensed DOCTOR WHO spinoff in the “Lethbridge-Stewart” series from British publisher Candy Jar Books) in November 2016. He is a senior media writer, NASA Marshall for ASRC Federal in Huntsville, Alabama.
Journalist recognized in annual defense journalism award competition
J. Ford Huffman (BSJ, 1972) has been recognized for his work in Commentary for the Military Times by the Military Reports & Editors Association, the preeminent organization for U.S. media professionals specializing in national security. The judges were faculty members at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and Howard University. The judges wrote that he is “one of the few regular sources of helpful commentary about contemporary military-related fiction and nonfiction.” Huffman will be recognized at MRE’s annual conference on October 26 at the Navy League of the United States headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.
College of Media alumna wins Food Network cooking competition
Brittany Furbee (BSJ, 2014; MSJ, 2015) has won Food Network’s “Cooks vs. Cons,” a cooking competition program in which two home chefs go up against two professionals. Furbee went on to prove “Mountaineers go first” by winning $10,000 and bragging rights by beating two professional chefs.
Nicole Beagin (BSJ, 2010) is a communications specialist for The College of New Jersey in Ewing, New Jersey.
Erin Beck (BSJ, 2015) is a healthcare strategic communications consultant for Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock in Brentwood, Tennessee.
Jason Bentley (MS IMC, 2009) received a Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership & Innovation from Wilmington University in fall 2017. Jason and his wife, Kristie, were inducted into the Irvin Stewart Society on September 15, 2017. He is the director of development for Delaware Technical Community College in Georgetown, Delaware.
Chelsea Bricker (BSJ, 2017) is the director of strategic communications for Vaught, Inc., in Beckley, West Virginia.
Scott Castleman (BSJ, 2005) was named PRSA-WV’s 2017 Practitioner of the Year. He is the manager of U.S. Gas Communications for TransCanada in Charleston, West Virginia, specializing in media relations, operational and emergency communications support, and social media management. He led TransCanada’s external communications efforts across the company’s 31,000 miles of U.S. natural gas pipeline and $8 billion growth portfolio.
Domenick Casuccio (BSJ, 2002) was named the 2017 Attraction Partner of the Year by Richmond Regional Tourism. He also received the Commonwealth Award of Merit in Community Relations in May 2017 from PRSA Richmond. Casuccio is the director of communications for the American Cancer Society in Glen Allen, Virginia.
Robert Chan (BSJ, 2009) is a supervisor at GroupM in Los Angeles, California.
Jennifer Colodney (MS IMC, 2012) was named the vice president of marketing and communications for the Somerset County YMCA, based in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. In that role, she oversees the marketing communications function across all five branches: Basking Ridge (Mt Airy and Riverwalk locations), Somerville, Bridgewater and Hillsborough.
Nicole Curtin (BSJ, 2015) is a varsity athletics communications intern at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Joel Danoy (BSJ, 2009) is the director of marketing and communications for Mercy High School in San Francisco, California.
Maria De Lucca (MS IMC, 2016) is an integrated marketing specialist for Minitab in Chicago, Illinois.
Tracey Gould (MS IMC, 2010) was named vice president of communications and marketing for NC Realtors in Greensboro, North Carolina. She was also selected to present at the national REALTOR AE conference in 2018. Her presentation, “Get Inked,” covered strategies on building relationships with the media and earning media placements.
Richard Jones (BSJ, 2004) is the national sales manager for Equipment Trader, a division of Trader Interactive, in Norfolk, Virginia. Ann Mangold (BSJ, 2002) is a vice consul at the U.S. Department of State in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Stephanie Mathias (BSJ, 2009) is the director, Cox Political Action Committee at Cox Enterprises in Washington, D.C.
Jessica McGee (BSJ, 2007; MSJ, 2009) is the assistant director of digital communications, video strategy for the NCAA in Greenwood, Indiana. In May 2017, her and her husband welcomed a baby girl into their family.
Alex McPherson (BSJ, 2011; MS DMC 2017) is the director of insights and analytics at FleishmanHillard in Dallas, Texas.
Bryan Moffett (BSJ, 2004) is the chief operating officer at National Public Media in Washington, D.C.
Kyle Monroe (BSJ, 2017) is a remote broadcast coordinator for the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. He is responsible for broadcast engineering, logistics and recruitment for ESPN/SEC network television productions, as well as the GatorVision video productions across all sports at the university.
Tommy Morgan (MS IMC, 2017) is a public relations account executive for Sage Communications in McLean, Virginia.
Kristina Murrill (MS IMC, 2014) was named the creative director at The Manahan Group, an advertising and public relations firm in Charleston, West Virginia.
Rachel Palo (BSJ, 2011; MS IMC, 2014) is Cross Complete/AmeriHealth Caritas in Southfield, Michigan.
Matt Perl (MS IMC, 2013) was named the director of customer acquisition for the Oakland Athletics in Oakland, California.
Nicole Racadag (BSJ, 2008; MSJ 2010) is the managing editor at the American College of Radiology in Reston, Virginia.
Chris Schielzo (BSJ, 2011) is a program management lead at Yahoo! in Los Angeles, California.
Jeffrey Tice (MS IMC 2016) is a program coordinator of New Student Orientation in the Office of Admissions for West Virginia University.
Morgan Uhler (BSJ, 2013) is a KYW Newsradio promotions director at CBS Radio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Laken Vita (BSJ, 2014) is an audio visual assistant for Team People at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.
Ashlie Walter (BSJ, 2013) is a writer/photographer for the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia.
Katie White (BSJ, 2013) is the creative director and faculty liaison at Strategic HR U.S., in Portland, Maine.
Tim Wright (BSJ, 2017) is a business unit communications specialist for TransCanada Corporation in Houston, Texas.
We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the following WVU Reed College of Media alumni who have passed away from June 2017 through April 2018.
Ashley D. Asbury (BSJ, 2005)
Norman G. Booth (BSJ, 1977)
Thomas J. Cervenak (BSJ, 1949)
Sue A. Childs (BSJ, 1969)
John B. Crist (BSJ, 1981)
J. B. Fisher (BSJ, 1973)
Donald G. Groves (BSJ, 1995)
Julia A. Halstead (BSJ, 1976)
John C. Harwick (MSJ, 1981)
Tina N. Jones (BSJ, 2000)
Joseph R. Kilmer (MS IMC, 2014)
Janice L. Knopp (BSJ, 1977)
Perry S. Newhouse (BSJ, 1988)
James A. Pahl (BSJ, 1979)
Kathleen U. Poling (BSJ, 1961)
Thomas J. Polites (BSJ, 1977)
Cletis G. Pride (BSJ, 1953)
Monique T. Rollins (BSJ, 1984)
David R. Sutphin (BSJ, 1982)
Jonas N. Swecker (BSJ, 1976)
Susan E. Taylor (BSJ, 1952)
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