Good News About Good Schools
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Seabreeze student enjoys time on C-SPAN
By PHYLLIS SALMONS | News-Journal Correspondent
DAYTONA BEACH — Erika Barger, 17, a senior at Seabreeze High School, had the experience of a lifetime as she co-hosted a nationally televised program on C-SPAN, the cable political network, on Oct. 8.
Having won a national essay contest sponsored by C-SPAN, Barger, Ormond Beach, received a trip to Washington, D.C., to co-host a segment of the special anniversary program commemorating 25 years of viewer call-ins on the network.
People were watching around the world.
Erika´s sister, Audra, tuned into C-SPAN for the live show that was broadcast at 8 a.m. Sunday in Seoul, South Korea.
Erika´s winning essay is posted online at www.cspan.org, along with 24 other finalists who were featured in every hour of the live, 25-hour Call-In Marathon that kicked off Friday at 8 p.m.
"We wanted to hear from viewers about why they watch or participate in call-ins on C-SPAN," said Brian Lamb, CEO of C-SPAN. "Viewers of all ages and walks of life wrote to us. What´s clear after reading the entries is the impact that call-ins have had in shaping the political conversation on the network."
Traveling with her father, Jack Barger, Erika was eagerly anticipating the trip to Washington, D.C. Flight delays due to weather and other complications caused the trip to seem unbearably long. The hotel was a welcome sight at 2 a.m.
"I was disappointed at having arrived so late," Barger said. "I was hoping to go to the C-SPAN studios and meet the hosts, as well as guest Pat Buchanan. After such a long day, we finally fell asleep at about 3 in the morning after watching a few clips and a couple of guests of the 25-hour marathon."
Erika´s first act of the morning was participating in a radio call-in to Daytona Beach´s WNDB for an interview with local talk show host, Marc Bernier.
After breakfast, the Bargers went to C-SPAN to meet Jennifer Moire, the media relations manager who organized the essay contest.
"Jennifer gave us a complete tour of the C-SPAN facilities and we presented her with a hot pink Daytona Beach baseball hat complete with an embroidered Flamingo. We also gave her a copy of the Oct. 7 News-Journal, the one with me on the front page, for her archives."
"While at C-SPAN, I met the former Speaker of the House, Tom Foley, as he was leaving his one-hour segment," Barger said. "He was so nice, and he took the time to let me have my picture taken with him. He said he would be watching me on TV that night!"
"I also met and talked with Janet Parshall," Barger said. Parshall is the host of Janet Parshall´s America, a three-hour, nationally syndicated program originating from Washington, D.C.
Russel "Rusty" Roberts, the chief of staff in Congressman John Mica´s office, gave the Bargers a guided tour of the U.S. Capitol.
"Our hotel was only a few blocks from the Capitol, so we decided to walk to meet Mr. Roberts," Barger said. "Unfortunately, we got caught in a gully washer. We began the tour looking like three drowned rats, since Mr. Roberts got wet too!
"My hair was in awful shape from the rain and there are no hair or makeup artists at C-SPAN. There was no time to find a hairdresser so my father found a Filipino lady, Beryl, at the hotel gift shop and asked her to help. Thanks to Beryl, my on-camera hair was better than it was before the rain!"
Before the show, the Bargers were ushered to the "green room." It was there that Erika met Lamb, who was host of the marathon segment where she would appear. "He was very humorous and related some very unusual viewer call-in segments he had encountered in the past 25 years," Barger said. "He is a terrific person, not at all standoffish or full of himself as one might expect of a celebrity of his stature. He made me feel most comfortable and relaxed."
Though she was unaware of it, at the beginning of the show, C-SPAN misspelled her name on the screen, listing her as "Erika Borger." By 17 minutes after the hour, that mistake was corrected.
Jack pointed out, "I was totally amazed that her stage appearance was not any different from any of the other ´polished´ professional journalists and TV personalities that I have seen appear regularly on C-SPAN or other news networks. In honesty, it was a bit of confidence and poise that I really did not know she had."
"Erika´s performance was outstanding," said Seabreeze High School Assistant Principal Ruthie Labno. "She showed maturity and responsibility in her questions and her comments. She is an excellent example of all the positive attributes we see in students today. I feel that she made an impact on the other guests and opened their eyes to the really good things teenagers today are doing."
Originally scheduled for a one-hour segment, Lamb invited Barger to stay for a second hour.
"I was delighted that Mr. Lamb wished for me to remain on the set to read my essay, further interview me and discuss more issues with callers," Erika said. "I was much calmer and more confident during the second half of the show."
Lamb put her on the spot, asking if she will vote in the next election.
Erika answered that she turns 18 before the end of the month and she plans to cast her vote in the upcoming local elections. "I believe elections at all levels are important," Erika said.
The C-SPAN final caller of the evening came from Erika´s cousin, Molly O´Bryon-Welpott from DuBois, Pa. Her on-air comments summarized the pride felt by family members around the world.
"I still cannot believe that a 250-word essay has opened this many doors for me," Erika said. "It´s a pleasure to live in a city small enough to get to know the people who make things happen and yet, it is a community where many have had the opportunity to find themselves in the national and worldwide spotlight. I am in awe!"