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The Next Step

Today is a special day for me, as months of hard work have finally come to fruition.  I have been granted acceptance into the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Ph.D. program for Communications Media and Instructional Technology.

When I describe months of hard work, that may sound a bit out of the ordinary to some.  I can tell you that I have spent nearly a year of study, writing, and dedication to get to this point.

The first major hurdle was the GRE exam.  Let me tell you that from my perspective, this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.  I haven’t taken a math class in more than 15 years and, as many are, was terrified about this particular section.  I knew that I would do well in the writing and English portions, but math was the one I was dreading the most.  After months of preparation, I did extremely well on all sections.

After this important step, I continued to research potential programs, but only one stood out to me.  While at heart, I love Slippery Rock University (and IUP was our arch rival), the Communication Media and Instruction Technology program at IUP was the one for me.  First, it was on-ground.  Even though I teach online a great deal of the time, I know how I like to engage in learning.  I want to be there with my instructors and with the technology that I’m tasked to use.  The program also has weekend classes once or twice a month, perfect for my schedule.

The next task was to do a writing sample.  While I do write for a wide variety of websites, blogs, email lists, and of course the Knightly News Media Club, I haven’t done much extensive academic writing.  To this end, I had a write a lengthy essay.  In this essay, I discuss how social media continues to polarize our society politically due to algorithms perpetuated by social media companies.  This took me several months to complete and I owe several colleagues many thanks for its completion.  (If you’d like to read it, let me know and I’ll send it to you!)


The long story short is this:  After nearly one year of hard work, I’m officially accepted into my Ph.D. program at IUP, and I have some people to thank.

My wife, Jackie, and my children, Kyra and Hunter – They provide me with the motivation I need each and every day to be better.  I’m not perfect, but seeing them every day makes me want to be the best person I can be at my job and in my life.

Dr. Melissa Wehler – You took a chance with me by hiring someone to a full-time position who only had limited experience in higher education because you saw something in me.  I will never forget this leap of faith you took and I truly hope to always make you proud.

Professor Thomas Davis – Your work with me, both on my writing sample and with other major initiatives we’ve been able to accomplish in the meantime in our program, has been one of the main reasons I was accepted.  You kept me on task, provided fantastic advice, and were always supportive of this goal that I had for myself.

Samatha Bise – You helped me so much through this process with finding a research topic, assisting me with sources, and, most importantly, helping me with proper citations.  You added the polish that was needed to my writing sample.

Dr. James Laux, my Slippery Rock Communication Professor.  You are the person that inspired me into the profession that I do every day.  Without you, there is absolutely no way I would be where I am today.  You showed me the importance of being a building block for young people, by showing the passion that must accompany our careers.  I will never forget your impact and I strive to do for my students what you have done for me.

My students – One of the main reasons I’m deciding to take the next step in my life is because of you.  I want to be better, I want to learn more, I want to be the best, and I want to share that with you.

And of course, the rest of my support system.  From my mother who has always supported me, to my friends and family that make life worth living, to my colleagues who support and offer advice, every person in my life has made it possible for today to be one of the happiest days in my life.  And for that, I thank you with all of my heart.

Father’s Day 2017

This Father’s Day is going to be a very difficult one for me, as this will be the second one that will be without my dad, Duane E. Carson Sr.  It was Christmas of 2015 that he passed on, and it has been a difficult time in the aftermath for myself and family.

Even though Duane is not my biological father, he meant more to me than anyone outside of my mother when I was growing up.  He was my stepfather and came into my life when I was a teenager, a difficult time for any individual to come into someone’s life.

It was a difficult transition for me and I’m positive it was difficult for him as well.  But over the years, he showed me so many different sides of himself.  He supported my mom and loved her for over two decades and went from being my stepfather to my father.

The word father is thrown around too much in our society.  And, to avoid the cliches, I think the title should be earned, not handed out.  The things that Duane taught me are things that impact me in so many ways to this day.  The class and compassion that he showed his fellow human beings is something that will never be paralleled by another person.


Duane was a wonderful man that impacted many lives during his time.

And while it is a sad time, it is also a joyous one, because my life and the spirit of being a father lives in me.  I am so fortunate to be blessed with two wonderful children, Hunter and Kyra.  And while I’m not their biological father, they treat me as if I am.  To me, that bond is all that matters in a parental relationship, and I have Duane to thank for instilling this in me.

No more true did this come into mind than at our final Challenger Baseball event.  For those of you who may not know, I am an assistant coach for the Bobcats team in the Camp Hill Challenger Baseball Little League.  Every Sunday from April until June, I get to spend my time with my son and other children who love to play baseball.  Baseball is my favorite sport and I’m honored to spend my day with these kids, sharing the game I’ve loved my whole life.

Hunter and Kyra

Hunter plays 2nd base for the Bobcats and always is supported by his sister Kyra.

In a way, it is the greatest thing I’ve ever done.  As a man who loves sports, it has always been unfortunate that Hunter has never been able to play organized sports.  It certainly is not to say that he doesn’t have the ability, because I know he does, it is just that he has a difficult time understanding the rules and doesn’t have the patience he might need.

This experience has helped fill a small void in my life that I am eternally grateful for.  Hunter is able to play until age 21, and I will be there every year as well.

But in the end, this Father’s Day is both happy and sad.  Happy because of my fortune of having a wonderful family, sad because I miss my father so much.  Still, at least I know that I had an amazing father that taught me many lessons and made me a better person.  After all, isn’t that what being a good father is about?

The Final Trick-or-Treat

As many of my loyal readers and followers know, I have a son on the autism spectrum.  While he certainly has his moments as most special needs children do, I can fully admit that he is a well-mannered, well-behaved young man.  And last night I got to spend a very special evening with him.

Hunter is 16 years old and I have had ten years of being able to trick-or-treat with him and my daughter.  But, for the first time this year, my daughter decided that she was too old to go, much to Hunter’s dismay.  I wanted nothing more than to spend one last fall evening with him, going from house to house and receiving treats.

And while it was certainly nice meeting some of the people in our neighborhood, something happened that I could not help but remember.  When walking up to one specific house, the person made a comment, “Wow, he’s a tall trick-or-treater!”  Surely I understand that the individual didn’t mean anything by what was said, but it really hurt me.  I didn’t take the time to explain that Hunter was on the spectrum, or that this was his last trick-or-treat, or how much it meant to me for us to do this together.

All I could think about for the rest of the night was that comment.  Is it really that big of a deal to give him a piece of candy without making comments?  Do you understand that my son will never experience many of the things that you take for granted?  Whether it be a loving relationship with a significant other, the joys of going to college or even having a friend that he can talk to about problems, Hunter will never get to experience many of the wonderful things life has to offer.


Hunter dressed up as a Ghostbuster on his final trick-or-treat and got to share the occasion with some close family friends.

This comment upset me the most because Hunter loves trick-or-treating and one of the few things that he loves is being taken away from him because of comments like these.  That is part of the reason that this is his last year of doing this because I personally can’t take comments like this.

I think the thing about Hunter that amazed me last night is how happy he is going from house to house.  Even on a cold, somewhat rainy night, Hunter kept up the pace and didn’t want to stop until the final bell sounded.  And, most of all, he would never even think about this comment being a negative one.

I’m sure that people will comment that I could be oversensitive in this regard, but the fact that I spent last night with someone I love so much doing something he loves so much really touched me.  And to have that comment made put a damper on my otherwise memorable night.

In the future, I’m sure that Hunter can dress up and hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters, but it will never be the same.  I’ll never forget these days as long as I live.  So for those of you handing out candy this weekend or on Monday, I want you to think about how much of an impact that one, seemingly insignificant, comment had on me.  Please remember that this could be someone’s last night like this and a final opportunity for a father and son to enjoy something that we cherish.

Our Trip to the #06010

For my wife and I’s one year anniversary, I really wanted to do something extra special.  Nothing could top our honeymoon in Punta Cana, so I wanted to think outside the box on this one.  Then I heard about the ESPY Week Auctions on ESPN, supporting the V Foundation.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the V Foundation and what they do, I encourage you to read more about them at:  In short, the V Foundation benefits cancer research, something that is close to me for several reasons, one of which is because my grandfather passed away from cancer when I was just three years old.  And there was one specific auction I was interested in, The Fantasy Sports Experience.

While I’m not at liberty to discuss the amount that I paid, it made sending that money easier because it supported such a wonderful organization.  I’m very knowledgeable about the way non-profit organizations work, as I’ve spent many days of my life volunteering with the Bethesda Mission, The Autism Society, Challenger Baseball and many others.  But the V Foundation vows that 100% of direct donations go to fund cancer research.

The experience, which I ended up winning, was kept a surprise from my wife.  She only knew that we were going to Connecticut and that we would be having our anniversary dinner with strangers.  I suppose this doesn’t seem like the best way to spend our first anniversary, but let me just say that it was.

The experience itself promised dinner with ESPN’s Senior Fantasy Analyst Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) and injury expert and physical therapist Stephania Bell (@Stephania_ESPN), stars on the insanely popular podcast (and my daily listen) the Fantasy Focus 06010.  We met them at Flemings Steakhouse in Hartford, CT which provided an amazing meal that didn’t disappoint, but the food was not what was so amazing.  We were also joined by Nate “The Weasel” Ravitz, former host of the podcast and now a self-proclaimed “Paper Pusher”, which is a humble way of saying a very important person behind the scenes.

Discussions of the night centered around Jackie and I’s fantasy lineups for the following day (of course), but continued into topics like the pervasiveness (and legality) of daily fantasy sports, the scoop on how each of the members of the pod got to where they are today, and some hilarious jabs at Matthew’s expense.  The dinner was fantastic, but what amazed me was how down to earth the crew was.  I deem myself a fairly good judge of character, and feel that I can tell when people are not being genuine.  The only thing I can say is that these people have worked very hard to be where they are, and while they have experienced fame to a certain extent (their words) have managed to remain extremely humble.  In fact, Matthew commented that he was in awe that people like us would spend a five hour drive to spend time with “A couple of jimokes like us”.

The #06010 Crew spending quality time with us on our anniversary dinner.

The #06010 Crew spending quality time with us on our anniversary dinner.

Dinner ended at a decent hour as I made the comment, “I’d love to sit here all night with you and talk fantasy, but I know that you all have to be on TV in the morning.”  Matthew and Stephania both explained that they still had hours worth of work to do.  Jackie and I headed back to our wonderful hotel room at Double Tree Inn and were surprised when we received a knock on our door.  It seems that somehow the hotel found out it was our anniversary (Matthew/Stephania?) and sent us up a nice bottle of bubbly.  Very classy guys…

The sign that welcomed us to our once in a lifetime day.

The sign that welcomed us to our once in a lifetime day.

Sunday started early for us, as we were to be at ESPN at 8:30 am for a private tour of the facility.  What made this so special is that ESPN is not open to the public.  You cannot just go there and take a tour, nor can you even step onto the grounds without authorization.

The tour was amazing.  We got to visit several of the studios, capped off by a chance to check out the Baseball Tonight studio.  As much as I love football, I am a true baseball fan at heart and stepping into that studio was unlike any experience I’ve ever had.  I’ve grown up watching Baseball Tonight and to have the opportunity to hang out and take pictures was fantastic.  We even ran into a few ESPN personalities in the hall, including Football Today and Fantasy Football Now host Robert Flores (@RoFloESPN).

The Baseball Tonight Studio

The Baseball Tonight Studio

Part II of our excursion brought us front and center to watch a live taping of Fantasy Football Now.  In fact, when we arrived at the set, Stephania Bell went out of her way to introduce us to the crew, showed us around the set, and even set us up with a prime spot to watch the show.  And while Stephania was getting ready for the show, Field Yates (new host of the 06010 pod) chatted with us right up until airtime.  While we didn’t get on the show, we did sneak on to Robert Flores’s Periscope of a commercial break.  Watching a live TV show being recorded is nothing short of amazing.  Watching how things unfolded on the fly, hearing the director discussing what camera to switch to, and even segments getting altered and cut on the fly was really like watching a movie unfold right before our eyes.

My beautiful wife and I on the set of #FFNow.

My beautiful wife and I on the set of #FFNow.


Field Yates and I right before air.

Field Yates and I right before air

The Fantasy Football Now Crew let us sit at the desk.

The Fantasy Football Now Crew let us sit at the desk.

The final act of the experience came when we got to watch the 1 p.m. games in the “War Room”.  This was basically a room with a wall of tvs with all of the games on simultaneously being watched by every ESPN NFL personality.  We had the opportunity to meet Chris Berman, Keyshawn Johnson, Steven A. Smith, Ron Jaworski, Adam Schefter, Tom Jackson, Merrill Hoge, and many others.  Even Stephania ignored the games (watching the games is her job) to make sure that we got to meet everyone and get pictures with those that we wanted.  When it came time to leave, I went to say goodbye to my new friend Matthew Berry and he insisted on walking us out.


At the end of the day, I can’t begin to explain why this was such an amazing opportunity.  First and most importantly, I wasn’t quite sure how my wife would take the trip.  I knew she loved football and certainly enjoys fantasy, but she isn’t as diehard as I (at least yet).  But even she proclaimed that the trip was amazing and extremely enjoyable.  Secondly, these are all people I look up to.  My dream growing up was to be in radio, and while I had my “cup of coffee” as they say, I never reached the level that these people have.  I mean I’ve grown up watching Chris Berman and Tom Jackson every Sunday since I can remember.  To be able to have the opportunity to meet so many people that I look up to, even now, was an experience I will never forget.

But the main reason that I wrote this piece is to provide a thank you to two specific individuals, Stephania Bell and Matthew Berry.  Even though both of them are extremely busy during the football season, they took ample time out of their schedule to ensure the success of our experience.  Even when Matthew was walking from one set to another, he took the time to chat with us.  Even when Stephania, who is paid to analyze football, ignored watching the games to chat with us and introduce us to so many people, it really says a lot about the character of these individuals.  In my mind it is no wonder why you are successful, because you genuinely care about your craft and genuinely care about the fans.  I wish you both the best of luck and I hope that you continue to be amazing people, because you really made our first anniversary one to remember.

Paul M. Miller

The internet is the most wonderful thing that has happened for college students in many decades as it allows us to have an infinite amount of information at our fingertips. Gone are the days of debate about who won the 1998 World Series (New York Yankees) or who won the Best Actress in 2005 (Hilary Swank – Million Dollar Baby). Anything we want to know is only a moment away. Seems great right?

The unfortunate side of the information age is the quality of information our students use in their research. High school and college students today are so used to using Google and Wikipedia in their personal lives that they transfer that into their studies. And while technology literacy is a wonderful attribute for them, understanding the pros and cons of the internet when writing and researching is essential to success.

In this blog piece, I’ve decided to take a look at the positive and negative aspects of the internet when it comes to certain aspects of the writing process. Hopefully, this will make students aware of some of these pitfalls before doing their next paper.

The Information Age has changed how students do research.

The Information Age has changed how students do research.

#1 – Prewriting

This is a crucial step that frequently people forget to do at all or spend adequate time with. Many feel that it is an extra step or extra work that they can skip and still provide a quality product. What I often explain to students is that without the framework of a paper, your organization is lacking. An example I give in class is: Imagine trying to build a house without a blueprint. What is most likely to happen?

Cons – Students often attempt to sit down with a blank Microsoft Word document when it comes time to write their paper. Prewriting guides the entire work, especially giving you direction when it comes time to research.   You can ask questions that you want to answer that can at least give you an idea of what you want to say by allowing you to formulate a central idea of your paper. Without prewriting, your “house” may not stand on its own.

Pros – A frequent statement that I hear when research papers are assigned is: “I have no idea what to write about”.   This is where technology comes into play. In the information age, bloggers have become the modern day public opinion meter.   Blogs are out there about any topic, therefore reading a blog piece or two may help inspire you about what topic to write about or what opinion to have. Much of writing comes from feelings and ideologies that the writer has and sometimes reading an opinion piece can help writers form their own opinion about certain topics.

#2 – Research

To me, research is the aspect of writing that has changed the most in the information age. Prior to the internet, researchers had to find books, magazine articles, or even microfilm to find information that they needed. Today, we have an infinite number of resources at our fingertips, including Google and Wikipedia. Understanding how to evaluate these resources is extremely important to success in writing.

Cons – Wikipedia – While Wikipedia is a wonderful asset to us as a society, many still do not understand the numerous problems that Wikipedia presents. The main issue is the fact that Wikipedia can be edited by anyone. If I wanted to go change an entry right now I certainly have the opportunity to do so. That said, academically Wikipedia is just too general to be useful in a college setting. It’s the same reason that researchers wouldn’t use an encyclopedia in research; it is just too broad for the type of information that we seek as researchers at a college level.

Cons – Blogs – For the individual college student, blogging is a necessity. Blogging though is another major facet of research that has watered down the quality of information that we are presented with on a daily basis. Think of it this way: Writers have to painstakingly get edited before their work is published and journalists have an editor that can dice up their stories to fit spacing guidelines or other factors in the news media. Bloggers, however, have little or no oversight and some bloggers do not take the time to fact check. Also, blogs are often meant to be persuasive in nature. Books, news stories, etc. are typically meant to be informative in nature, to present the facts to you and allow you to make your own opinions.   Blogs are typically trying to attempt to make you change your opinion on a matter, which detracts from the validity and usefulness in an academic setting.

Pros – Wikipedia – Wikipedia does offer many positive things to a researcher though. First, if you are new to a topic and have limited knowledge on a subject, Wikipedia may be a good starting point for general information, as it may point you in the right direction for future research. Also, Wikipedia has extensive references and further reading sections that can direct you to other sources that provide a wealth of quality information. So, while Wikipedia shouldn’t be cited as a source, it is a great place to start your research.

#3 – Revision and Proofreading

One of the aspects in writing that is often neglected is the step of revising and editing a paper. Technology has made us “lazy” in the sense that once we run a spelling and grammar check, we feel that this step has been completed and often may not even read back over our work

Cons – Spelling and grammar check – Microsoft Word and other word processing programs have come a long way in providing us a great deal of tools that can assist us in the revision and editing process. As I mentioned, however, many students think that this tool is a substitute for taking a little extra time to reread their work. In fact, the most common error I see as a professor is students either not using it at all or only using it and not reading through their paper prior to turning it in. And to a professor, this is quite obvious.

Pros – SmartThinking – At Central Penn College, we have series of tools that students may use to help improve their revision and editing skills. The first and most useful is SmartThinking, a tool on Blackboard that provides online tutors to help assist you in your writing. I encourage students to learn more about this wonderful tool by check out their website ( and accessing the tool through Blackboard on the “Tools” tab.

Pros – Emailing your professor, classmates and others

Technology has made getting feedback on your work much easier than in the past. First, you should always reach out to your professor at their office hours or via email. I’m always happy to look over a paper and provide feedback to students should they email me their paper in advance of the due date. You could also email classmates and get their feedback, realizing that you may also be helping them in their studies by seeing how someone else approached the assignment.

As we are clearly in the information age, instructors have realized that this is both a blessing and a curse for students. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of technology could be the difference between success and disappointment when it comes to the writing and researching processes that all college students face. Using some of the tools I’ve suggested here could make the navigation of this information age less of a challenge and more of an adventure!

By:  Paul M. Miller

Professor, Central Penn College


I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to teach a variety of social media related classes in my time at Central Penn College and am fortunate this term to be teaching a social media marketing class.  I get to show my students how to listen on social, how to create a content calendar, and this week’s topic, how to deal with customer comments.  The irony is that I had a situation last memorial day weekend that provides a perfect case study for what we are speaking about in class this week.

The situation:  My wife and I took a much-needed mini-vacation to Pittsburgh over Memorial Day weekend.  From my time at Slippery Rock, I still have friends in the area that we usually stay with.  The years however have caught up with us and my friend now has two young children, so staying with them isn’t an option.  We decided to stay at Motel 6 at 2834 Banksville Road just outside of the city, mainly because it was the closest to his house.

The room and hotel itself weren’t bad (you get what you pay for in the hotel industry more than any other) and certainly would have been sufficient for our one evening stay.  The issue arose when I went down to get coffee in the morning.  I went to the lobby to see if they had a continental breakfast of some kind.  Unfortunately, they didn’t.  This wasn’t a major issue because we had early lunch plans anyway and they did have coffee.  After I got my coffee, I needed to use the bathroom and went to the attendant at the front desk to ask where the bathroom was.  She proceeded to question that I was a guest in the hotel and that the bathroom was only for guests.  This was shocking to me.  When I told her that I was a guest and then showed her my room key she then told me that I should “Go upstairs to my room and use that bathroom”.

I want to preface the rest of this piece by saying that I have worked in the service industry from the time I was 15 years old until just before I started teaching about three years ago, so for the better part of 15 years.  In that time, I worked at every sort of restaurant you could imagine and even in a hotel.  Treating a guest in this fashion is absolutely unthinkable.  I could understand if I wasn’t a guest in a large city I suppose, but telling a guest to walk upstairs to my room to use the bathroom is unthinkable.

This is not the main issue for me though.  The main issue that I encountered was the lack of response that I received from their customer support and via social media.  The lesson that we are discussing in class this week is how to deal with comments that a business receives via social media and the importance of timely responses.

Here is the aggravation that I went through regarding this complaint I made:

#1 – The day of the incident, I immediately emailed their customer support (around 8:30am).  I received an automated message saying that their customer service department was open seven days a week from 9a – 10p, so I expected to hear from them later that day, which I did not.  In fact, I’ve yet to receive an email from them four days later.

#2 – Then I decided to take to Facebook.  I sent them a message explaining what happened and again did not receive an immediate response.  It took them nearly three hours to contact me back and when they did, all they did was to give my the number for customer service.

Let’s think about it this way:  If I’ve already emailed them and sent them a message on Facebook, do you think that I want to spend time on hold waiting for them to respond to me again?

#3 – Finally, they sent me a message that said that if I provided them with my information that they would contact me immediately.  I did so at 1:30pm and here it is five hours later with still no response.

The point I’m trying to make here is simple:  Businesses have an obligation in the day and age of social media to respond in a timely fashion to customer complaints.  According to research, it takes 7 times as many resources to convert a new client than it does to retain an existing one.  They very easily could have reached out to me at the beginning of this exercise and tried to make the situation right.  If they did a good job, not only would I have remained an existing customer, I may have then taken to social media or my blog to discuss how wonderful of a job they did in taking care of the situation.  Social media has changed the way that customers do business and companies that don’t recognize this now are doomed for failure.

So, at the end of the day, Motel 6 took an opportunity to professionally take care of a situation and make me a life-long customer and tossed it aside.  All I really wanted to know is that I was heard and that the situation was going to be handled with the respect I was due.  Unfortunately, this did not happen.  So I encourage my network to please reconsider staying with Motel 6 until they shape up, or at least make this situation right.

And then of course, this happened just after my stay:

I will update this situation should they respond.

Over the past few years, one of my most successful and important blog pieces has been my “Why I’m Thankful on Thanksgiving” posts.  I get an opportunity to reflect upon the last year of my life and give thanks to those that made the progress I’ve seen possible.  This year will be no different, as I’ve managed to continue seeing my goals come to be thanks to the assistance and guidance of those around me.

While I haven’t seen monumental career changes this year, I continue to do a job that I love and am inspired every day by my students to be a better professor and person.  What follows is not a comprehensive list of those responsible for where I am, but a list of those that I respect and admire and have made this year one of the best ever.

My new wife, Jacqueline

2014 was a monumental year for my personal life.  After being together through good times and bad for seven years, Jackie and I finally got married.  We had been engaged and planning  our wedding for nearly two years, so needless to say that consumed most of my time.  Anyone that was fortunate enough to be in attendance will certainly vouch that we had an amazing time.  From the 75 degree late September weather, to the beautiful scenery at Hunter’s Valley Winery, to the most amazing wedding food (and cake from Bella’s Bliss Bakery), to having all of our friends together to celebrate, our wedding was one for the ages.

In addition, we had the opportunity to have our honeymoon in the most beautiful place in the world, Punta Cana.  It was an amazing experience for many reasons, but I can’t help but get the feelings out of my mind about the level of poverty we witnessed in our time there.  Truly, after the honeymoon was over, I was indeed thankful to have a beautiful wife, a loving family, and a career I love.

Our Fantastic Wedding Party!

Our Fantastic Wedding Party!

My best man, Bart Kaminski

Bart and I have had an interesting friendship, one that culminated with a tear-jerking best man speech at the wedding.  But he also has given me an opportunity to advance my career with our new endeavour of Hop Hedz Gear (, where I am the marketing director.  While over the past five years or so I’ve been involved with social media, I now have a tremendous opportunity to handle all aspects of marketing for an emerging business with a killer product.  It is amazing the amount of faith both Bart and business partner Brett have put in my ability to showcase the company, not just at shows, but online as well.

My Loving and Supportive Family

This year was a bit difficult for me family wise, in that my mother has been in and out of the hospital with heart problems.  I honestly must say that I’ve never been so worried as I’ve been for her over the past few months.  For those wondering, she is doing okay, but it seems that this is going to be a lingering problem for the rest of her life.  Hopefully, things for her begin moving in the right direction so her health can be something that she doesn’t worry about in the future.

Also, I can’t thank my family enough for all of the assistance that they provided us with the wedding.  They were able to take care of several things that we simply didn’t have time for or didn’t think of even doing.  Special thanks go out to my sister Danielle, who made a beautiful bridesmaid for Jackie, but also served as emotional support for her as well.

Finally, My Students

For all of the times that my students make me crazy, there are even more times that they drive me to become a better professor.  And while some of them may get upset that I dock them points for being late or tell them to get off of their phones, I promise they will look back at me as being influential too.  I look back at two of my favorite professors, Dr. James Laux (Slippery Rock) and Dr. Ted Carlin (Shippensburg) and realize that it’s not the easy teachers that make something of you, it’s those that challenge you to be the best you can be.

When scheduling classes, I remember asking “How easy is Professor X?”, when I should have asked “What did you learn from Professor X?”.  Life is not easy, and as soon as my students realize this fact, they may understand why I am hard on them.  It’s not because I want to be rude or because I like to give them a hard time, it’s because I want the best for them in ways that many of my professors did not.

Truly everyone associated with my life has helped make me the person I am today.  It was an honor and a privilege for each and every one of you to spend your day(s) with me and my new bride at our wedding day.  I hope that each and every one of you understands how much I value your friendship and I hope that we can continue to share these special moments of our lives for years to come.

Paul Miller


As someone who has had a successful blog for the better part of three years, I often have students show great interest in blogging.  There is one question that continuously arises:  What should I write about?  Students have an easy time understanding why blogging is so important:  It gives them a place to showcase their writing ability, their knowledge of their chosen field, and their dedication to do something not (usually) required in a college curriculum.  The issue remains:  How do you develop content?

Answering this question is something that took me quite some time to develop an understanding for.  At first, I had the same quandary.  I started my blog after an influential moment in my life, the first time I attended Harrisburg University’s Social Media Summit.  I took great notes on each panel and decided that I would write my commentary about what I learned to share with my network.  The problem arose after I wrote about each session, accomplishing my initial goal:  Now what do I write about?  The tips that I discuss are ways that I’ve managed to keep my blog going strong over the past few years and I believe these tips can help any blogger for both the short and long terms.

Tip #1 – Develop a frequency of posts and stick to it

When I first began blogging, I felt that a weekly blog piece was the direction that I wanted to pursue.  After about two months, I felt that this was a goal that was very difficult to achieve.  I wasn’t because I didn’t like to write or that I had trouble finding inspiration; it was that I was working multiple jobs.  Making sure I was doing my job to the utmost of my ability superseded the need for a weekly blog.  Since then, I have vowed to have at least one blog per month.  While I’ll admit that some months I didn’t have the opportunity to write, I’ve averaged about 10 blogs per year.

For those starting a new blog, my advice would be to start with what you are comfortable with.  Don’t be unrealistic and think that you’ll be able to blog daily, or even weekly.  If you love to write and have plenty of ideas at your disposal, make an idea bank with potential topics.  That way, if something doesn’t strike you between entries, you always have ideas to fall back on.  Secondly, don’t write just to write.  Be inspired about your topic.  Show that it is relevant to your career path or at least of interest to you.  The worst blogs are those that show no passion, as if the writer is just going through the motions.

Tip #2 – Follow Influencers on Social Media/Reach out for comments/interviews

Social Media has been a communications revolution unlike any the world has witnessed in the modern era.  The world has totally changed the way we as humans communicate with one another.  This also allows us amazing access to those that influence our field of choice.  One strategy that I’ve employed is to look at the field that I’m involved in and find those that are on the cutting edge.  I continuously read and interact with these individuals so I can be in the know of current and important topics.  This has been one of my largest inspirations when it comes to writing my blog.  Also, reach out to your network and ask them questions.  I’ve never had one person turn me down for a three question email interview when I told them I was writing a blog piece.  People want to help you and you shouldn’t feel intimidated to contact them.


Tip #3 – Read articles related to your field

Beyond following people that are influential in your field, it’s important to constantly read anything you can find about these topics.  To be successful in the modern age, one must love what they do.  You have to be able be immersed in the topic on a daily basis.  Read at least two articles a day about your field of study and understand the current problems or issues that go along with it.  This will help you become educated and more importantly, well-rounded in discussion.  You can then use this knowledge in interviews with potential employers.

Tip #4 – Develop an informed opinion

This tip is the most important of all with regards to developing content; you must form your own opinion.  No one wants to read a blog that conforms to the status quo; people want to read viewpoints that differ from the norm.  This is where your knowledge of your field can truly come in handy.  Show your audience that you know what you are talking about and (more importantly) have something of value to say!  In the modern day, audiences have more content at their fingertips than they could read in a 24-hour period.  If you don’t provide some sort of value to them, you risk losing them forever.

I encourage you to give blogging a try.  I cannot explain enough the value of a blog to your potential long-term career goals.  I give this example every time I speak on this subject:  Most college students are acquaintances or even friends with others in their major.  What these people really represent is competition for every job that we seek.  Stellar grade point averages are expected now from college students in the open market, so every available job is like a chess match.  With things equal, who gets the job:  Someone that has demonstrated great knowledge of their field via a blog or someone who doesn’t have one?

Professor Paul Miller, Central Penn College


Molly Pitcher Brewing Co.

As part of what we do at Hop Hedz Official Gear, we will be featuring a blog about the craft beer scene in the central Pennsylvania area and in surrounding regions.  As our first feature, Marketing Director Paul Miller had the opportunity to interview Operations Manager Mike Moll at the forthcoming Molly Pitcher Brewing Co. in Carlisle, PA.

Molly Pitcher Brewery is a brand-new establishment based in Carlisle, just a brief walk from the square.  The town has seen fantastic growth as far as nightlife in concerned over the past few years.  Mainstays like the Gingerbread Man and Scales have expanded their craft beer offerings due to demand for the product.  In addition to that, recent years have brought a new “food and beverage renaissance” with establishments like Cafe Bruges and Helena’s Craperie to the downtown Carlisle area.  The one thing still lacking in the area is a brewpub.  According to Moll, “One of our main goals in opening a brewery in this area was to have it be located in Downtown Carlisle for this very reason. There is only one other Microbrewery within a 15 mile radius, and with the craft beer drinking population growing so rapidly, we felt Carlisle was in need of a destination brewery.”

The first test that any new business must pass to be successful is location.  Moll feels that the lack of many breweries in town is going to make this venture much easier, especially because Carlisle is a craft beer town.  For anyone that has visited the Molly Pitcher Brewing Co. website (, you may notice that the brewery is in a quite small space.  One would wonder if that could be a good situation for business, especially because people may be turned off if they go to the establishment a few times and are turned away.   Moll was quick to clarify something when I asked this question.  “Molly Pitcher Brewing will be a production brewery, initially self-distributing, to other local bars and restaurants. Our tasting room will have full pint and growler service with a light food menu, however we will not have full ‘bar’ hours.”  Basically, the priority will be making the product in this space, not as much focusing on the front of the house.  That being said, Moll also mentioned that there will be a 32 seat tasting room, offering growler fills and sampler trays for their product.

A view of the artist's rendering of the tasting room at Molly Pitcher Brewing Co.

A view of the artist’s rendering of the tasting room at Molly Pitcher Brewing Co.

There is a growing sentiment in the craft beer community that craft beer fans may be getting too much of a good thing.  In researching this piece, I found many articles that feel the same way (Time Magazine: and (Breaking Brews:  Which brought me to my next question to Moll:  What will Molly Pitcher Brewing Co. do to set themselves apart from others? “Our beer recipes focus on traditional beer styles, what many consider session beers. We offer 10 standard recipes that we feel offer something for everyone from our light, refreshing Kolsch to a higher ABV Stout. We also consider ourselves ‘malt-heads’ in a beer world where hops are the current trend. We will also have special release small-batch brews only available in the taproom as often as possible.”  I really like this concept, as Moll points out, many breweries are focused on the hops.  The fact is (and I comment I hear repeatedly by craft beer drinkers) not all beer drinkers like hops!

Hop Hedz couldn’t be happier in supporting a great group of gentlemen that strive to make a successful small business in our region. According to Moll, the brewery plans to open by late October. Hop Hedz is currently in the works for being a part of the grand opening, so be sure to stay tuned to our (and Molly Pitcher’s) social media channels for the definite opening date. We wish Molly Pitcher Brewing the best of luck in their new endeavor!

The Molly Pitcher Brewing Co. is located at 10 E. South Street, just a short walk from the Historic Square in Carlisle.  They have a fantastic social media presence that can be found on both Facebook ( and Twitter (@mpbrewing), as well as online at

Paul Miller

Marketing Director, Hop Hedz Gear

In somewhat surprising news, Bruce Bond has made his triumphant return to the midstate airwaves.  Millennials may not know who Bond is (or even what good radio is for that matter), but Bond’s loyal listeners most certainly do.  Even though Bond has had an interesting few years since he left Central PA radio, his return proves that there is some hope for traditional radio in our market.

The reason that I’m writing this piece is because of the personal admiration I have for Bond.  Back in the mid to late 90s and into the early 2000s, I was one of Bond’s biggest fans.  As a teenager, his brash personality along with his cast of characters made for an amazing listen each and every day from 3pm – 7pm on WINK.  Even when his new morning show was derailed due to a non-compete, I just knew he’d be back on the air.

Bond provided a great deal of inspiration to me.  Back in 1999, I ventured to Slippery Rock University with dreams of being in Computer Science.  When I got to Calculus II, I realized quickly that this route was not for me.  So I thought to myself, “What is it that I love to do?”  Radio was the first thing that came to mind.  It was mainly due to my love of the Late Afternoon Show and the art that was radio.  I quickly changed my major to Communications and started my own show at 88.1 WRSK FM and the rest is history.

The King returns to 92.1 WTPA Saturday Mornings from 9 am - 12 pm.

The King returns to 92.1 WTPA Saturday Mornings from 9 am – 12 pm.

For those of you that may not know me personally, I’m now a Communications and English Professor at Central Penn College.  My task is to educate the young people of the region about the glory of mass communications.  The unfortunate thing about mass communications involves the corporatization of it, especially in the radio industry.  I remember writing one of my greatest papers about the lack of a key concept, “localization”, and how local radio has lost all sense of the word.  For those of you that don’t know, a large majority of radio is voice-tracked, a fancy way of saying pre-recorded.  As with many Communications related jobs, the internet has caused fewer jobs, but more importantly those that do work in the field are required to do a great deal more work.  Radio has lost one of the few things that it had in years gone by, a connection with the local people and the local economy.

Radio has now morphed into a “vast wasteland” of hearing the same songs over and over again, with little or no value to the local community.  There are rarely (if ever) any local DJs of any substance that people care about and most avid radio fans have either switched to satellite or abandoned traditional radio all together for a blend of other media.  The question, however, still remains:  Why is Bond’s return a harbinger of things to come?

The “rat bastards upstairs”, as Bruce famously used to speak of management, need to realize something about radio.  In the age of the Internet, the public can find what they want at any time, whether it be in the car, at home, or on the go due to the multitude of options in content, Wi-Fi, and more.  People do not want to listen to the same ten songs over and over, they want to hear something of substance.  If traditional radio station owners do not do more to give back to the local community in some fashion, they risk losing the entire medium to the internet.

Radio’s future admittedly looks quite bleak, but the return of Bruce Bond allows us to remember what good radio was like, as opposed to this ridiculous example of garbage we constantly hear from KISSFM and HOTFM.  One thing about Bond is that he is real.  He never kisses up to management, nor does he waste his time giving us bad radio.  During his first show, Bruce even admitted, “Don’t expect perfection from me today”.  He knew that his loyal listeners would remember the old show and quickly reminded them that everyone will be rusty.  One week later, Bond returned a former co-host, Janice Radocha, and immediately returned to form.

So regardless of how you feel about the man himself, you have to at least give him a great deal of credit.  Put in a notoriously horrific Saturday morning slot, WTPA is taking little risk by giving Bond a chance.  Hopefully, this venture will in some small way return Bond to the Marconi Award Winner that he once was and give him a chance to do what he loves so much full-time.  After all, everyone deserves a second chance to do what they love to do.


Paul M. Miller
Professor, Central Penn College
Social Media Editor, KollisionMedia

Twitter: @SolutionsforAdv