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In 3, 2, 1 - morning TV show tapes on campus
Stanford University woke up a sizable chunk of the nation this week when talent and crews from ABC's "Good Morning America" descended on campus Tuesday, Nov. 9, to tape the next day's show from the Inner Quad.
Hosted by Charles Gibson and Joan Lunden, the upbeat program was the third of a weeklong "Great Pacific Coast Highway Bus Tour" that also included visits to San Simeon, Monterey-Carmel, the Napa Valley and San Francisco.
The Stanford broadcast was scheduled to air on the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 10, before the show's usual national audience of about 4 million people.
About 400 Stanford community members gathered to watch the 8 a.m. taping, including almost 300 students who were rousted out of bed by resident assistants and athletic coaches.
Once fortified with free coffee and rolls, they provided an enthusiastic backdrop for the early-morning taping, which took place under uncharacteristically overcast skies.
"I wanted to come because I don't think Stanford gets enough publicity, and I'm really proud of my school," said sophomore Sunrise Hart. "I'm from the East Coast, and you always hear about the Ivy Leagues and you never hear enough about Stanford. I think just the diversity of this place and what it has to offer should be applauded, and deserves to be seen on TV."
Junior Megan Williams came even though she had been up all night working on a paper. "My roommates bagged out and didn't come, but I decided I wanted to see what's up," she said. "Also, tomorrow is my birthday, and I thought maybe I could wave to my parents."
Planning for the show began in August, when representatives from "Good Morning America" called Jack Hubbard, associate director of the Stanford News Service. The show had previously taped segments and shows at Harvard University and Trinity College, Dublin, among other institutions.
Hubbard provided extensive footage of the Stanford campus and worked with crews as they taped advance stories. Victor Madrigal, a senior working in the Office of Residential Education, helped to recruit audience members from student residences, campus offices and the surrounding Palo Alto community.
The taping was done from a raised platform surrounded by cameras, stage lights, microphones and cables, while a blimp provided aerial shots of the campus.
Scurrying crew members directed members of the audience to stand and sit in different parts of the Quad, flanking Lunden and Gibson as they did their stand-ups. (Weatherman Spencer Christian did his segments from locations in Silicon Valley.)
Gibson, a Princeton alumnus, opened by calling Stanford "the most beautiful campus and one of the finest colleges in the nation."
Lunden, who wore cardinal red for the occasion, added: "If you have a newborn and you want her to get in here, just make sure she's smart, speedy and can throw a great football, because this place is known for combining athletics and academics."
(A native of Sacramento, Lunden was accepted to Stanford in 1967, but chose to study abroad instead.)
Other segments chosen by the program's producers included an overview of the campus, a spirited attempt at the "Good Morning America" theme song by the Incomparable Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band, and interviews with Stanford luminaries such as football coach Bill Walsh, former secretary of state George Shultz, Olympic swimming star Summer Sanders and Stanford alumni Scott Turow, a successful author, and Gretchen Carlson, the 1988 Miss America.
The show also featured a taped segment on earthquake research featuring geophysicist Michael Guillen, and a segment on the troubled state of California public education with Stanford Education Professor Michael Kirst, San Francisco State University student Zenaida Gonzalez and Stanford Daily Editor-in-Chief Rajiv Chandrasekaran.
"It was an interesting experience because usually I'm behind the computer terminal writing things," Chandrasekaran said later. "Fortunately, I didn't have to scrounge for answers."
Probably the highlight for most audience members was when Gibson and Lunden bantered with the crowd on-camera, asking students where they were from and why they had chosen to come to Stanford, and asking them to identify the big issues on campus.
One student cited conflicts among the diverse campus ethnic groups, while others spoke about the cost of tuition and job prospects.
The show closed with Lunden and Gibson, donned in Stanford caps and sweatshirts, throwing "Good Morning America" flying disks to the crowd. Later, audience members lined up to have their disks autographed.
"The California tour has been great," Lunden said later. "The first two days were absolutely beautiful, and I think that today was a very different and very special show.
"The students were fabulous," she added. "Besides being energetic, they were well spoken and made good guests for us."
Stanford participants, for their part, were thrilled with the positive portrayal.
"It went way beyond my expectations," Hubbard said. "It was a wonderful broadcast dealing with a great institution. We were able to make the point that this is a vibrant, high-energy place that really concentrates on learning. I think that message really got through."
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