October 2014: M-Passioned Member Ron Placone

unnamed1) What do you do?

I tour the country doing stand-up comedy and speaking on Media Policy at college campuses with my lecture/performance, Madness in the Message. I also run an independent Morning Show on WRFN in Nashville, TN. I guess at the end of the day I create stuff and try to find other people that care about it. 

2) Tell me about your latest work or project in media literacy.

Madness started out as an idea during my Master’s Degree. I was studying media and rhetoric, and on the weekends I was driving off campus doing comedy gigs on the road. I thought there had to be a way to marry my interests, so I developed an hour presentation with video, sketches, stories and songs that deals with academic theory but is also a fun and satirical way to look at these issues. What’s cool about the fact that I do a Morning Show too now is that when I speak on campuses I’m not just coming at it as somebody that studies media but as somebody that participates as well.

3) Why is media literacy important to you?

I firmly believe that the media structure that we have in the United States is completely and utterly misguided. It is toxic to the very idea of a democratic society. Despite that, great journalism is still going on. Having a conversation with the content you consume is essential today, especially considering there are countless delivery mechanisms out there these days.

4) What are you most excited about in the media literacy field?

The younger minds coming up. I think this next generation is really going to turn some heads and take us to a new intellectual high-point, and they’re going to be the catalyst of a better media structure and a more media literate society. When I go to a campus I have a Q & A session after and it’s always my policy to stay until the absolute last question is asked. The questions asked and the discussions that I get to have with students all across the country are inspiring and humbling, they’re concerned about issues of media literacy and policy, and they want to confront it, they want to make a better world. So I guess more than anything I’m excited about what’s around the corner.

5) Why did you become a NAMLE member- what benefits do you see to membership and how will it support your work?

From a practical stand point, what I’m doing in the college lecture circuit, while it has it’s place, isn’t considered mainstream or anywhere close to it by a long shot. So any group or organization that I can join that will connect me with educators and other folks that are into the same issues I’m into is crucial for me. It’s a niche project, and it’s my job to do everything in my power to make sure the people that may be interested in what I’m doing know who I am and how to reach me. Also, as this field is always expanding it’s good to stay on the pulse of what new work is being done and organizations like NAMLE help curate and make those materials available. 

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