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Franklin Hall rededicated as home of IU's Media School

  • Sept. 28, 2016

Editor's note: This story from The Bloomington Herald-Times is being published here as a courtesy for readers of IU in the News.

  • By Michael Reschke

Franklin Hall has served a lot of purposes in its 109-year history, including being a source of anxiety for sportscaster Joe Buck, who, like all Indiana University students in the late 1980s, had to go there to register for classes.

“I used to sweat when I came in here,” he said. “It was like the original fantasy football draft. You show up, it’s like, I want that psych class and that jerk in front of me just took it and it’s closed, and then you go home and then you’re stuck in astronomy and then you drop it.”

Buck, a seven-time Emmy Award winner, received an honorary degree Tuesday during a ceremony rededicating Franklin Hall as the new home of IU’s Media School, which was established July 1, 2014, by merging the School of Journalism with the telecommunications department and portions of the communications and culture department.

The ceremony also marked the completion of a $21 million renovation that began in October 2014. The architectural firms GUND Partnership of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and VPS Architecture of Evansville led a redesign effort that called for punching a hole in the roof to make space for a skylight. The 40 glass panels on that skylight have polarizing filters that can be darkened or lightened, depending on the time of day and brightness of the sun.

Hanging below the skylight is a 24-foot-by-121/2-foot high-definition monitor that is the centerpiece of a new common area. Six different channels can be displayed at once on the NanoLumens monitor, and using the Tunity app, students can hear the sound from any of those six channels on their smartphones.

In the building’s equipment check-out room, more than 3,600 pieces of media equipment, such as microphones and cameras, are stored in high-density shelving units. In the control room, students can use robotic cameras to film their peers.

Down the hall in a classroom University Information Technology Services helped design, students can use small monitors to work in groups. An instructor can then easily display the work of a group on a larger monitor for the entire class to see.

Downstairs there are game design labs, a game testing area, a virtual reality room, a 40-seat Mac lab and several video editing rooms.

Buck said the building’s broadcast studio is on par with the best professional studios he’s worked in.

“I walked into that studio and I was blown away,” he said. “I can tell you I’ve worked in the supposed best places in New York and the best studios in L.A. and you go down to Nashville and all these places. That is, I can tell you, as nice or nicer than any one I’ve ever been in.”

Buck would have likely been underwhelmed if he could have walked into Franklin Hall when it opened in 1907. It was built to serve as the campus library at a cost of about $137,000. Presidents Hall, the room where Buck was speaking to a crowd of about 250 people on Tuesday afternoon, was originally the grand reading room.

An addition was built onto the L-shaped building in 1956 to accommodate the library’s growing collection. Continued growth of both the collection and the student body led to the construction of the Herman B Wells Library, which began in 1966. By 1969 the transition to the new library was completed, and the old library became the home of several administrative services, such as the bursar and registrar. It was known as the Student Services Building until 1989, when it was renamed for Joseph Franklin, an IU alumnus and administrator.

As services such as registration moved online, students no longer had to physically go to Franklin Hall. Soon it was used mainly for administrative offices, like most of the other buildings in the original core of campus.

As IU’s leaders thought about the future of the campus, they decided it was important to bring students and activity back to the core of the campus. The Franklin Hall renovation was the first step in that plan.

Now, with so many labs available to students, and student media publications such as the Indiana Daily Student newspaper housed there, Franklin Hall is a hub of activity designed to prepare students for an ever-changing media landscape.

This point wasn’t lost on Buck. He said that when he left IU at the age of 20 to follow in the footsteps of his dad, Jack Buck, as the play-by-play announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals, the world was a simpler place.

“The job I do now is not as sweet or wholesome as it was back then,” he said.

The internet and social media tore down the walls that insulated broadcasters. This new technology has many benefits, but there is a downside, he said. After calling a big game and thinking he did a good job, Buck said, going online and reading comments about himself can be heartbreaking at times.

“The internet, for all its good, can scare the opinion out of people who do what I do,” Buck said. “It can scare the ease and the humor out of you as well.”

Speaking to the students in the room, Buck said comments on social media can affect their minds and their work. But he urged them not to be discouraged.

“Take what you learned here and take what’s inside you and what makes you you, and let it go,” he said. “And if you’re fair and if you’ve done your homework, say it. Or write it. The world needs more informed, smart opinions.”