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Students Intern at Bonnaroo Music Festival

North Park students intern at Bonnaroo Music Festival

Three students team up with alumnus Terry Fryer and Third Wave Productions to broadcast North America's number one arts and music festival

CHICAGO (July 10, 2009) – The word “bonnaroo” is a slang term in New Orleans meaning “a really good time.” And that’s just how three North Park students would describe their experience as production interns at the wildly popular music festival of the same name.

Junior Suzanna Colberg says she “could write a small book” on what she learned at this year’s Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, which took place June 11–14, on an 800-acre farm in Manchester, Tenn. Some 75,000 fans gathered to see performances by dozens of artists, from Bruce Springsteen to Al Green.

She and classmates Alan Hall and Michael Dell were privileged to work with North Park alumnus Terry Fryer, a partner at the Evanston-based studio Third Wave Productions, which captured and broadcasted the performances at this year’s festival.

“There were so many things I learned,” says Colberg, such as “the importance of good organization and interpersonal communication skills. I also learned some of the technical aspects that make Bonnaroo work and run smoothly.”

From his position in master control, Fryer was able to scan numerous television and computer monitors and provide real-time feedback on his crew's work. He even showed Colberg the eight screens used to identify and record all of the camera angles for the Springsteen concert.

The cast of hundreds involved in the festival began each day with sound checks at 6:00 a.m. Music started as early as noon and often lasted up until 6:00 a.m. the following morning.

Fryer and his colleagues spent months preparing for the event, but he says his three interns helped make the weekend’s hectic, 24-hour production schedule a little more bearable.

A business major, Hall says he was surprised to realize that the music industry needs people with sound business and accounting backgrounds. A highlight of his experience was connecting with other professionals who affirmed accounting “doesn’t have to be in an office.”

Fryer himself can attest to the endless applications of a good education. “My so-called achievements have all been in areas that did not exist when I was in school,” he reflects. After working his way through college as the organist for the Evangelical Covenant Church in Evanston, Fryer has had almost every imaginable opportunity in the music industry—touring the world as a performer, producer, and teacher; writing and producing songs for a classic movies including “The Blues Brothers,” “Dirty Dancing,” and “Groundhog Day;” and playing, writing, and producing for artists such as Smokey Robinson, Whitney Houston, Ella Fitzgerald, and Natalie Cole.  

Fryer’s current work with Third Wave keeps him busy producing 60-plus music-related television shows airing in 74 countries around the world. He has also spent the last seven years producing the video, audio, and Web presence for Bonnaroo and other music festivals.

So what is his advice to North Park students hoping for success in their future careers?

“It is simple, be internally consistent,” he says, adding that progress is “geometric”—not linear. “Let your heart lead you in your learning because the greatest fulfillment is to do something you love. Do not accept anything less.”