Alumna Takes Manhattan

Jessica Lomasson, ’12 | Senior Copywriter, Geometry Global


Alumni association student intern Daniela Marin sat down with advertising-public relations alumna Jessica Lomasson, ’12, when she spoke to the UCF Ad Club in November, discussing the importance of networking with fellow Knights, how she stays involved with her alma mater, her advice to students for breaking into the advertising industry, and more. WATCH THE VIDEO

College of Sciences

College of Sciences Dean Michael Johnson presents the college's 2014 Professional Achievement Award to Gwen Griffin, '85. (PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
College of Sciences Dean Michael Johnson presents the college’s 2014 Professional Achievement Award to Gwen Griffin, ’85.
(PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
Gwen Griffin, ’85 | CEO, Griffin Communications Group

Professional Achievement Award 2014

Gwen Griffin’s decision to open her own advertising/PR agency may have seemed spontaneous, but it was not entirely so. The underlying foundation stems from her early interests in social engagement, which compelled her to pursue an education at UCF’s Nicholson School of Communication. After earning her degree, Griffin became highly involved in the aerospace industry promoting the space exploration.

Learn more about Gwen:

Marketing Wizard

Magical marketing behind Universal’s “Harry Potter” attraction casts alumna in 2014 Nicholson Alumni Hall of Fame

Former Nicholson School of Communication Hall of Fame inductees (left to right) Roger Pynn, ’73 (2000); Michele Cooper, ’83 (2002); Dan Ward, ’92 (2011); Heissam Jebailey, ’00 (2012); Kim Strong, ’93 (2006); and Peter Cranis, ’84 (2003), were happy to welcome 2014 inductee, Donna Mirus Bates, ’93 (center), to their elite group. (PHOTO: Shaloni Prine, '07)
Former Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame inductees (left to right) Roger Pynn, ’73 (2000);
Michele Cooper, ’83 (2002); Dan Ward, ’92 (2011); Heissam Jebailey, ’00 (2012); Kim Strong, ’93 (2006); and Peter Cranis, ’84 (2003), were happy to welcome 2014 inductee, Donna Mirus Bates, ’93 (center), to their elite group.
(PHOTO: Shaloni Prine, ’07)
Donna Mirus Bates, ’93 | Senior VP, Marketing Communications & Content Development, Universal Orlando Resort

Lightning never strikes twice — except in the case of Donna Mirus Bates, ’93, who worked on the marketing opportunity of a lifetime, then created an encore marketing campaign to reignite global excitement for a theme park expansion of infinite magnitude.

Bates and her team first helped to launch The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort in 2010. Following its success, Bates and her team partnered with Warner Bros., the “Harry Potter” cast and filmmakers, author J.K. Rowling, and a team of creative geniuses to once again capture the world’s imagination, bringing Diagon Alley to life for the devoted fans of the books and movies.

On Thursday, Nov. 6, Bates was celebrated for her successes, as well as her continued involvement at the university, becoming the 31st inductee in the UCF Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame, which was established in 2000.

Tom Alexander, ’03, chair of the NSC Alumni Chapter, emceed the luncheon, which was held at the Citrus Club in downtown Orlando. He was joined by Robert Chandler, NSC director and professor, who presented Bates with her award.

“Through all of her actions and efforts, Donna truly exemplifies integrity, community, creativity and excellence, making her a remarkable Knight,” Chandler said.

Fellow NSC Hall of Fame inductees, and members of the NSC Alumni Chapter and UCF Alumni Association, as well as Bates’ co-workers were in attendance to congratulate her.

“I’m incredibly proud to be a graduate of the Nicholson School of Communication at UCF,” Bates said. “I love seeing the high caliber of candidates our program is producing, and I’m so honored to be a member of the NSC Alumni Hall of Fame.”

UCF Nicholson School of Communication Director and Professor Robert Chandler presents 2014 Hall of Fame inductee, Donna Mirus Bates, '93, with her award.
Donna Mirus Bates, ’93, 2014 Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame inductee,  receives her award from Robert Chandler, NSC director and professor.

BOD Spotlight: Ericka Dunlap


Ericka Dunlap, ’05 | UCF Alumni Board of Directors

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Who could forget the moment our very own Ericka Dunlap, ’05, was crowned Miss America 2004? Preceding the competition, Ericka became the first African-American woman to be named Miss Florida. After moving to Nashville to pursue a career in country music, Ericka then traveled the world and came in third on the 15th season of CBS’ “The Amazing Race.” These days, she’s back in her home state of Florida, doing what she does best: keeping busy. She works as the principal consultant at Crown Communications Group, as well as both a keynote speaker and entertainer. And, in what little time to has to spare, she also serves on the UCF Alumni Board of Directors.

10 Questions with Ericka

Q. Favorite thing about your job?
A. From the PR angle, I’m able to help business owners and professionals get exposure for their brands. As a speaker, I inspire people to create a vision for their goals. And, finally, as an entertainer, I convey the breadth of emotion in a song or another creative form, which motivates me to study new ways of making each project, speech or performance just as exciting as the last for the target audience and me.

Q. Describe a typical day at work…
A. It’s never typical. My car IS my office.

Q. Most memorable experience on the job?
A. I’m fulfilled when at least one person says they really needed to hear my message, or when my client sees the proverbial light bulb of creativity for their ideas to come to fruition.

Q. How do you hope your leadership will affect the future of the alumni association and the university?
A. I’m hoping to encourage a diverse perspective and offer ideas on how to incorporate more diverse representation that can directly speak for the ever-evolving population of UCF.

Q. In what other ways have you been involved with your alma mater since graduating?
A. I have made several presentations and speeches for CAB, my sorority (Delta Sigma Theta), the President’s Leadership Council, and many other organizations on campus.

Q. What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to your fellow Knights to help advance our university and our alumni association?
A. Stay connected beyond graduation! What one person experiences may affect the lives of hundreds.

Q. Happiest/proudest moment of your life?
A. My proudest moment so far has been graduating from college, because I’m the first person in my family to do so.

Q. Volunteer work/philanthropy?
A. I do like doing projects with the elderly, and I love encouraging girls’ empowerment.

Q. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
A. Learn sign language.

Q. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
A. I am addicted to thrift stores and yard sales.

Hey, Mr. DJ

Love of music spins alumnus into his dream job


Jay Edwards, ’04 | On-Air Producer/Personality, MIX 105.1

By Angie Lewis, ’03

A typical day on the job for Jay Edwards, ’04, includes waking up at 3:45 a.m., getting games and prizes ready, and setting up the studio for his co-hosts, Scott McKenzie and Dana Taylor — until they all go live at 5:30 a.m. On some days, he even gets to hang out with celebrities like Dr. Oz, the Backstreet Boys and Mary J. Blige.

As the on-air producer of Scott McKenzie & The Morning MIX on MIX 105.1 in Orlando, Edwards’ job doesn’t stop when the show ends at 9 a.m. After that, he edits audio for their evening podcast, reaches out to celebrity publicists and managers to book interviews for future shows, and he manages much of the station’s social media and website updates.

“People dream about going to work each and every day to a job they love, and with people they like and respect,” he says. “I have exactly that — and they pay me! I get to talk about fun topics, listen to music and hang with celebrities. What’s not to like about that?”

Edwards fell in love with radio when he interned during his junior year at UCF. But, a career in radio wasn’t always on his radar. When he was a child, he dreamed of being a police officer.

His first paying job was as a summer camp counselor. He also worked as a recreation supervisor and tuxedo salesman. However, he says his love of music ultimately made radio much more appealing. “And I’m so glad it did, because I have the best job in the world!” he says.

Music also led him into a second job, about which he’s just as passionate. On most weekends, Edwards puts on his best attire and DJs his heart out for new brides and grooms. And, thanks to all of his hard work and dedication, his company, Liquid Entertainment, has been named tops on many wedding-affiliated lists.

Since he’s lived in Central Florida his whole life and wanted to stay, UCF was a natural fit when it came time for him to choose a college. It also helped that his brother was a Knight. “He had nothing but good things to say, so I followed in his wise footsteps and now I’m a proud grad!” Edwards says.

Whether it’s teaching or mentoring the UCF interns who work on the show nearly every semester, or scoring an interview with Coach George O’Leary, his alma mater has remained a constant in his life since graduation.

He’s even been out to campus several times to speak to radio/TV students about careers in the field. His advice to them: “Don’t just focus on your voice! Sure, vocal presentation is key in radio, but these days, there are so many other things that go into being a great DJ. Know how to blog, know every aspect of social media, and be up to speed with everything happening in the music and entertainment industries. If you’re a pop culture geek, radio is the right place for you!”

MIXin’ It Up Q&A

Q. Working in radio, you’ve probably had opportunities to meet some pretty famous people. Who has been your favorite so far, and why?
A. One of my goals as the producer of the morning show was to have Bill Cosby on the show. I’m a really big fan and, about six years ago, I was able to book him for a five-minute phone interview, which turned into a 45-minute interview. He was so cool! When you get to talk to someone that you’ve truly admired and respected your whole life, and they are genuine and humble, it makes you appreciate them even more!

Q. Do you have any special/hidden talents?
A. Before I got into radio, I was the singer in a band, and I also play the drums.

Q. What movie can you quote word for word?
A. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”  

Q. What part of pop culture do you wish would just go away?
A. Baggy pants, twerking and lip syncing 

Q. What do you do for fun?
A. I coach my kids in football, baseball, basketball and softball. So, if I’m not working, I’m on a field somewhere with them. We also have an RV, and we love to go all over the Southeast and camp at new places and go jet skiing.

Q. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
A. I still have the desire to be a police officer. I find their line of work absolutely fascinating, and I have the utmost respect for them. I will occasionally do ride-alongs with different departments just to get a taste of what they do day to day.

Q. What’s the first album you ever bought/owned?
A. I bought a cassette single of The Outfield’s “Your Love.”

Q. What was the first concert you ever attended?
A. I was a big fan of Van Halen and, shortly after they split up, David Lee Roth came in concert, and I had to go! He had some band no one had heard of opening up for him called Guns n’ Roses.

Q. If you could have front-row seats to any concert, which would you choose?
A. Red Hot Chili Peppers! My favorite band ever, and I’ve been close — just not front row.

These Guys Will Kickstart Your Heart

Alumni radio hosts rock Central Florida mornings


Pat Dougher, ’90 & Bob Miller, ’96 | On-Air Personalities, WJRR

By Angie Lewis, ’03

The subject matter can get a bit raunchy, and the occasional bodily function may slip through the airwaves, but what Orlando rock fans tune in for are the on-air personalities and guitar-laden music.

Loyal listeners of Orlando’s WJRR morning show are familiar with its hosts, Pat Lynch and Taco Bob. But, even if you just channel surf through morning FM radio, you’ve probably heard their unmistakable voices. The guys regularly promote local rock concerts, describe the latest viral videos and, most importantly, talk about their alma mater — UCF.

Meet “Pat Lynch”
Pat Dougher, ’90, better known as Pat Lynch, grew up in South Florida. He chose to attend UCF thanks to a recommendation about WUCF radio from a counselor at Palm Beach Community College.

While he was a student, Dougher worked an internship, which, he says, was key to his future career because it allowed him to meet some of the real players and shot callers in the local radio industry. “Doing an internship opened the door to the people who have and still do make it possible to do what I do for a living,” he adds.

As a radio/television major, Dougher ended up leading a student drive to gain an afternoon block of student programming on WUCF, which proved successful.

After WUCF, he went on to work for Central Florida’s old Q-96, then Relativity Records in New York City. After a brief time up north, he moved back to Orlando, where he worked as a manager at Peaches Music. In addition, he worked part time for WDIZ, which was eventually merged with WJRR when Paxson Communications bought the station. Seventeen years later, Dougher’s still with WJRR.

Meet “Taco Bob”
Bob Miller, ’96, better known as Taco Bob, says he chose to attend UCF because it seemed like the next step on the ladder after growing up in Central Florida and attending Valencia. “Plus, UCF offered a great communications department,” he adds.

As a radio/television major, Miller had the opportunity to meet guest speaker Jenny Sue Rhodes from then-Paxson Communications [now WJRR], to whom he credits helping him get his foot in the door of the radio industry thanks to an internship with her company, after which he was hired on as an employee. This year marks his 20th year with WJRR. 

Pat Lynch, Meet Taco Bob
So, how did this pair end up together?

“When WDIZ merged with WJRR, our program director walked in the studio one day and said, ‘Pat, this is Taco Bob. He’s going to be on during the lunch hour with you to do entertainment news,’” Dougher explains. “I said, ‘OK,’ and we hit it off immediately. We had good chemistry, so the powers that be said, ‘Looks like we may have something here we can develop into a full show.’ The rest was history.”

Learn more about the guys and their lives in radio in the Q&A below.

WJRR has had several format changes over the years, but adopted its current rock format and call letters in 1993. Some of the station’s alumni includes Larry the Cable Guy, Just Plain Mark and Buckethead.

Rockin’ On Q&A

Q. Describe a typical day at work.
Pat Dougher:
Arrive at 4:10 a.m., catch up on overnight news and start the show at 5 a.m. From 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., we execute the mechanics of the show as well as the online/social media aspects of the show. After the show, we produce any promos or commercials that have been assigned, meet with our programming boss and sales counterparts as needed. The day sometimes also includes on-site appearances for client and station promotions. I try to leave the office by noon, catch a nap and then begin a couple of hours of show prep for the next day’s program. 

Q. Favorite thing about your job?
Bob Miller:
When we have a great show. 

Q. Why do you do what you do?
I always loved radio as a kid and decided I would try to make it a career.
I love entertaining people. 

Q. Working in radio, you’ve probably had opportunities to meet some pretty famous people. Who has been your favorite so far, and why?
Hands down, Ozzy Osbourne. Why? He is the front man of, in my honest opinion, the most important hard-rock band, Black Sabbath.
Matt Damon because he’s very down-to-earth and a great guy to have a beer with. Slash because he’s Slash, and he does so much more than rock. Larry the Cable Guy because Pat and I worked with him for years, and it’s so good to see a great person become beyond successful. 

Q. What did you want to be when you grew up?
Police officer/law enforcement
Meteorologist or actor 

Q. How did you end up at WJRR? (What other jobs have you had?)
My previous radio jobs have been at WUCF (when the station played rock music and paid some of the students, including me). I then went to work for the old Q-96. After that, I briefly worked for Relativity records in NYC. I moved back to Orlando and worked for Peaches Music as a manager, and also part time at the legendary WDIZ (where I ended up working full time). WDIZ was merged with WJRR when Paxson Communications bought WDIZ. Been at WJRR ever since.
I did an internship at WJRR while attending UCF, and they hired me. I worked in the restaurant business from [age] 14 to 21. 

Q. What advice would you give to current UCF radio/television students?
Minor in something that will make you more valuable to a potential employer — business, marketing, etc. And, do an internship to establish some contacts.
Do an internship and learn as much as you can while you’re there about promotions, marketing, production, sales, etc. 

Q. What was your first paying job?
I started mowing yards when I was 10. When I turned 15 and was legally allowed to work, I went to work for a mom-and-pop grocery store chain in South Florida.
Sold mistletoe at the age of 7. We made a killing growing up in Winter Park! 

Q. What or who inspires you?
Adversity inspires me. There’s nothing more satisfying than overcoming adversity.
Successful actors who give back to their local communities and anyone who does charitable work 

Q. What’s the first album you ever bought/owned?
Kiss’ “Destroyer”
Bob Marley’s “Uprising 

Q. What was the first concert you ever attended?
Cheap Trick and U.F.O.
Pink Floyd 

Q. What music/artist would you never be caught listening to?
Mumford and Sons
One Direction — unless my daughters do a sneak attack on me 

Q. What songs would make up the soundtrack of your life?
“Street Fighting Man” by The Rolling Stones, “You Won’t Change Me” by Black Sabbath, “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” by Judas Priest, “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Cool Change” by Little River Band, “I’m No Angel” by Greg Allman, and “Back for More” by Ratt
Songs by Bob Marley, Sublime and The Zach Brown Band

On the Air

In preparation for this article, the guys invited me to stop by the WJRR studio and sit in with them during one of their live shows. Our executive director (and huge WJRR fan), Tom Messina, ’84, and our social media coordinator, Stephanie Sheppard, ’12, accompanied me.
Listen to our segment.