Get On The Bus

JMU Students Given Their Chance To Participate In C-SPAN Call-In Show

Posted: February 21, 2013

The C-SPAN Bus brings its public affairs broadcasting tour to James Madison University’s campus Wednesday morning. Ten JMU political science majors were chosen to participate in the “Washington Journal” broadcast. (Photos by Nikki Fox / DN-R)
James Madison University President Jonathan Alger chats with C-SPAN marketing representative Jessica Lindquist during Wednesday’s C-SPAN bus stop on the JMU campus.
HARRISONBURG — Gazing up James Madison University’s quad from South Main Street on Wednesday, instead of the Bluestone face of Wilson Hall, onlookers caught sight of a large red bus blocking the usual scenery.

In big block letters, C-SPAN was spelled out on the side of the vehicle, and for 45 minutes Wednesday, students inside the bus found out what it was like to be a part of the media organization’s operations.

“It seemed like a great opportunity,” said Michael Hinkle, 21, who was one of 10 political science majors chosen to participate in a morning broadcast of C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal,” a call-in show that invites elected officials, journalists and other guests to answer questions about politics submitted by viewers. 

C-SPAN, which stands for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, airs programming on several channels, as well as on radio and the Web, with a focus on government affairs. The network, a private nonprofit company, was created in 1979 by the cable industry as a public service and receives no government funding.

The JMU students were part of a segment with Megan Hughes, a Bloomberg TV correspondent, who answered questions regarding sequestration and the possible impact automatic budget cuts could have on gun control and immigration if they take effect March 1, as well as the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.

“[Sequestration] is a topic most of us are interested in,” Hinkle said.

After the students participated in the question-and-answer session, everybody passing by was invited aboard the bus to learn about resources available through C-SPAN, including a video library that can be used for research papers, said Jessica Lindquist, a marketing representative with C-SPAN.

“It’s wonderful as an educational resource,” said Lindquist.

The bus, which is in its 20th year traveling the country, kicked off a tour Monday promoting a new program, “First Ladies: Influence and Image.” The a series, which began airing this week, takes a look into the lives of every first lady from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama.

The bus stopped at the James Madison campus because of the university’s namesake, according to Lindquist, and will travel to places connected to first ladies, such as hometowns and presidential libraries.

“I think it was a good experience in having to think on your feet. Asking questions in front of a live audience can be pretty nerve-racking,” said David Jones, a JMU political science professor. “They’re learning about the policy issues, the communication; the process is important [and] they got a sense of how these things are produced.”

This wasn’t the first visit to JMU by C-SPAN, the bus having made a stop in  2009. On Wednesday, the tour also included a stop at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton.

More about C-SPAN and its mission can be found online at .

Contact Emily Sharrer at 574-6286 or

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