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Cumberland Idol a hit on campus and online


Donte Paul serenades Dr. Gina Herring during his performance of “My Gir,” while Dr. Michael Dickman and Coach John Bland look on.

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. — The Campus Activity Board (CAB) at University of the Cumberlands has started the fourth season of Cumberland Idol. This annual tradition for student participation began as a one-time talent show but has become one of the most popular events on campus. The talent show’s growth and student participation warranted the implementation of something that would last over several weeks. Now each spring, the students at University of the Cumberlands are urged to come out and audition.

Cumberland Idol began as a partnership between CAB and TV-19, but the media production and the theater departments have joined with CAB to make the Idol experience even more outstanding; the lighting in the Gatliff chapel has been improved, and the weekly Idol contests are broadcasted live online. The addition of the Cumberland Idol website has increased the number of viewers.

”Grant Doepel is the driving force behind idol,” said Lisa Bartram, University of the Cumberlands’ CAB director. Doepel has been the director of Idol for three years and has maintained the Idol website since he took the reins three years ago—Doepel also edits the videos for YouTube and the website.

“As the director of Idol, I have the privilege of working with a great staff who takes so many of my responsibilities so that I can make sure all our videos reach a viewing audience outside Whitley County,” said Doepel.

Technology has helped increase viewership, but involvement has also increased. This past January, CAB had an impressive 41 students who came to audition for the fourth season of Cumberland Idol. During last season’s Idol there were more than 115,000 votes. This is a drastic difference from the first year’s votes, a little over 4,000. In an attempt to increase the number of audience members, CAB has giveaways; throwing Idol t-shirts to the audience and holding a grand-prize drawing at the season finale.

“I would urge any student to come out and participate; I have participated in idol for three years now, said Donte Paul, a junior at Cumberlands. “Don’t be scared of the competition, just look at it as something fun.”

Much like American Idol, Cumberland Idol has a panel of judges who critiques the contestants’ weekly performances. The judging panel is made up of professors at Cumberlands and has mostly stayed the same since Idol’s beginning. This season the judges are Dr. Gina Herring (English professor), Dr. Michael Dickman (communications professor) and Dr. Charles Pilant (history professor). Occasionally there will be a guest judge who is selected by suggestion of CAB members or someone who has expressed an interest. Patriot football head coach, John Bland has already served as a guest judge this season.

Each week the contestants are required to do something specific. On February 7, the participants were required to do a duet; on February 15, they performed songs by boy and girl bands. Some of the ideas come from American Idol; if CAB members see something they like on the TV show, they will try to incorporate it into the Cumberland version.

When Cumberland Idol was still in the works, Lisa Bartram and the CAB members thought that it would be popular, but they had no idea it would be to this degree. They anticipate the future and are excited to see how it grows and flourishes over the next few years.

“None of this would be possible without the CAB members and TV-19 crew. It takes a lot of students to make this show run smoothly and they do an amazing job,” said Bartram.

Cumberland Idol is scheduled to last throughout the spring semester and can be watched live at Videos of previous performances, photos, upcoming events and a schedule of the contests are also available on the website.