College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

All Spotlights » Mary Epps, '05

With the lead up to the original February 17, 2009 deadline for the conversion of nationwide television broadcast signals to digital, it has been nearly impossible to avoid the onslaught of media coverage regarding the switch. In Michigan, much of the thanks for this broad awareness can be credited to Mary Epps, '05, DTV project coordinator for the Michigan Association of Broadcasters in Lansing, MI. Epps was hired by MAB in June of 2008 as DTV project assistant. After just a few short months, she was named project coordinator for the state, providing support and DTV-related communications to the organization's over 300 member stations. One of her main goals has been to help broadcasters around the state in informing and preparing the general population for the conversion through public service announcements and other means. "We achieved 100 percent awareness of the transition according to a recent Michigan State University poll," she explains - a tremendous accomplishment, especially in light of the fact that the U.S. House of Representatives last week passed legislation postponing the conversion deadline to June 12, 2009 amid concerns that millions of households in the nation were still not prepared. At the heart of the bill delaying the switch were concerns regarding the U.S. Commerce Department's coupon program, which offers households coupons to defray the cost of purchasing a digital TV converter box. By the end of 2008, all funds for the coupon program had been allocated. Consumers using an antennae or rabbit ears to view broadcast networks and requesting coupons were put on a waiting list. The coupons expire 90 days after issuance and if unused, the designated money is returned to the treasury and additional coupons can then be issued. The hope with the extension is to allow more time for consumers to redeem these coupons. "With the extension of the transition deadline, I will continue in my capacity to support our members and to educate the public on all things DTV. Our message to the general public will continue to be, 'Get prepared now. Don't wait to make the transition until June.' There is concern that there might be limited availability of converter boxes in the months to come," says Epps. Epps earned a B.S. in advertising and public relations from Grand Valley State University in 2005, and went to work as a communications assistant for the Michigan Department of Transportation. She then worked for the Coldwater Daily Reporter before taking her current position. She credits Grand Valley and connections made through the institution in helping prepare her for her role. "Michael Walenta [general manager of WGVU-TV] was an excellent resource for me regarding all things DTV," says Epps, who looks forward to continuing on at MAB after the conversion is complete to focus on event communications and assistance with legislative issues. The position will bring her back to Grand Rapids March 9-11 for the Great Lakes Broadcasting Conference. GVSU broadcasting, engineering and communications students and professionals are encouraged to attend this career fair and great networking opportunity. Added February 2009


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