O’Reilly Out

O’Reilly on the set of his immensely popular news program, “The O’Reilly Factor.”​ Photo by Robin Wright, New York Times.

By Blake Hunter

Though “The O’Reilly Factor,” lasted for 20 seasons with more than ten years on air, it took but a matter of weeks for an expose’ by The New York Times to be the missile that sunk the number one program in cable news. The Times found that Bill O’Reilly and Fox had paid out a total of $13 million to five women in exchange for them to not seek legal action or speak out about their accusations.

Fox is certainly no stranger to losing employees to sexual harassment, just last year Roger Ailes, the founder and former CEO of Fox News, was outed from his position due to allegations of sexual harassment. But it’s important to note that sexual harassment was not what got O’Reilly; surely it was the catalyst, but money is what pulled O’Reilly’s card in the end.

Shortly after the NYT piece, advertisers began pulling their ads from The O’Reilly Factor. Everyone ranging from car companies, to pharmaceutical companies, to pet food suppliers pulled their advertisements from O’Reilly’s show. According to the Kantar Media firm, in a two year span the O’Reilly Factor had generated $446 million from ads, not an amount to scoff at.

As more and more advertisers pulled out of The O’Reilly Factor, over 50 in total, the story gained more and more buzz in the media and the women at Fox raised questions over whether the company was going to keep its promise to maintain a culture of “trust and respect,” as they had said after Ailes was fired. In the end, Fox decided it would be best for O’Reilly not to return.

So now it seems O’Reilly goes the way of Glenn Beck, releasing a podcast on his website on a subscription basis, promising to bring “no spin news.” But the real questions remain with Fox. Why did they cover for O’Reilly for so long? Why did it take the threat of loss of profit to end O’Reilly’s tenure rather than the multiple allegations of sexual assault put forth by various women? It seems that Fox did not learn their lesson from Ailes, and maybe Fox’s slogan should be changed from “fair and balanced” to “money over morals.”

Exploring Alabama via Atlas Obscura

By Rachel Wallace

Most students leaving campus for spring and summer breaks are bound for the bikini-clad, beer-chugging throngs of the Gulf Coast. But I’ve discovered there are far less hot, smelly and overcrowded destinations to visit in our state and in the South. Thanks to the Atlas Obscura—an online, definitive guide to the world’s most curious roadside attractions—I’ve spent many school breaks exploring amazing, hidden spots all on a few dollars and a couple tanks of gas.

Over spring break, I travelled to Cullman, Alabama to see Ave Maria Grotto—a four-acre, folk art complex with more than 125 miniature replicas of historical and holy landmarks created by a single, hunchbacked monk known as Brother Joseph. Since the Grotto is not very well known, and the weather was bitterly cold, I was the day’s only visitor. Snowflakes began to fall as I was admiring Brother Joseph’s beautiful artwork, adding to the serene, other-worldliness of the scene.

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I also went to Birmingham over winter break to see Vulcan—a bare-bottomed, 56-foot tall statue of the Roman god of fire which towers over the city. Vulcan is the largest cast metal statue ever made in the United States, and originally served as a testament to the Magic City’s renowned steel and iron industry. Visitors take an elevator to the top of the tower for a breathtaking lookout over the cityscape and sunset. Though this attraction is more well known, I was one of only a few other visitors.

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If these experiences sound more appealing to you than tropical tourist traps, check out 36 more “cool and unusual things to do in Alabama” on the Atlas website. Many of them are within a reasonable driving distance from the AUM campus. For each attraction, you’ll find short descriptions and plenty of visitor pictures. Each listing also includes an address for the attraction, special directions for what to expect when you arrive there, and a phone number you can call for more information.

For eight years, the Atlas has been cherry-picking unique and interesting attractions to include in its database; however, it includes tips from anyone, anywhere. Since the Atlas is based in the United States but has entries for numerous countries across the world, it depends on local explorers to inform them of the places they don’t yet know. Think you’ve got a good addition for the list? According to the website, here’s what editors are looking for:

  • Natural wonders
  • Extraordinary collections, libraries, and museums
  • Secret histories (ordinary seeming places with crazy back stories)
  • Places associated with amazing people
  • Catacombs, ossuaries, and unusual crypts or cemeteries
  • Fascinating labs and research facilities
  • Abandoned places, ghost towns, and amazing ruins
  • Mysteriously preserved bodies and dead saints
  • Outsider art, self-built castles, and crazy architecture
  • Unusual places you’ve been to personally

In addition to tips, the Atlas also accepts photography and freelance writing submissions pertaining to attractions they’ve already archived. The submission requirements for each can be found on the website.

The editors of Atlas Obscura aim to provide travelers with a different view of the world. Though they achieve this mostly through archiving attractions, they also do much more: hosting international trips with fascinating, secretive tours; publishing written and visual stories about history, travel and adventure; and sponsoring hometown events to inform and involve the public—four of which will be held in Alabama very soon.

May 6 is “2017 Obscura Day,” and all who know about the Atlas are invited to celebrate. That Saturday, events will be held at the Fitzgerald Museum in Montgomery, the Birmingham Oddities shop in Birmingham, the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman and the Mobile Medical Museum in Mobile. You can find out more information about each event on the website.

I plan to be at the Fitzgerald Museum on May 6 and to visit many more Atlas Obscura attractions during summer break. I hope to see you there!

ZTA Hosts Male Pageant Tonight

By Megan Endres

Zeta Tau Alpha will be hosting its second annual Big Man on Campus on April 20. Big Man on Campus is described by Zeta Tau Alpha Philanthropy Co-Chairman, Allison Wetherill, as “a male pageant that Zeta Tau Alpha uses to not only raise money for our philanthropy, but also creates an opportunity for the campus to come together for a great cause.”

All proceeds from this event will go to support Zeta Tau Alpha’s Philanthropy, Think Pink in support of Breast Cancer Education and Awareness. The winner of Big Man on Campus will receive a cash prize of $100.

Big Man on Campus will take place at 7:30 p.m. in  Goodwyn Hall 109. If you would like to attend, you may purchase a ticket for $5 at the door or you can find a member of Zeta Tau Alpha in front of Goodwyn Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to purchase it.

Anyone who is interested in becoming the next Big Man on Campus can receive information and register with any member of Zeta Tau Alpha, April 17 through April 20 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in front of Goodwyn Hall.

Filibuster Release Event

The Filibuster, AUM’s student-run magazine of creative literature and visual arts, will host a release party for its 2017 issue:

Wednesday, April 19 at 5:00 p.m. in Goodwyn Hall 109

The event will feature prose and poetry readings from the new issue. There will also be free food, drinks, t-shirts and copies for students and faculty members who attend.

S.A.G.E. Club Earth Day Event

Students Advocating for a Greener Environment, or the S.A.G.E. Club for short, will hold their earth day event:

Tuesday, April 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Quad

They are asking students and faculty members to donate non-perishable food items to stock the campus pantry. In addition to the food drive, there will also be a fitness challenge, electronics recycling and snacks from Whole Foods.


PCRA Meetings This Week

The AUM chapter of PCRA provides a great opportunity for students who are interested in public relations to network with professionals in the field and to jump-start their careers. To learn more about the chapter, students can attend one of two upcoming meetings:

Wednesday, April 19 at 5:00 p.m. in Liberal Arts 222

Thursday, April 20 at 5:00 p.m. in Liberal Arts 222

Please email Dr. Matthew Killmeier at mkillmei@aum.edu if you plan to attend.

Richard Herd Gets Real With AUM Students

By Rachel Wallace

During his AUM Lecture Series address, famous actor Richard Herd shared many words of wisdom with students preparing to enter the workforce.

“You can’t have anything unless you work your ass off for it,” said Herd, who is best known for his portrayal of Mr. Wilhelm in “Seinfeld” and Adm. Owen Paris in “Star Trek.” The now 84-year-old superstar has worked for six decades to earn his place in more than 500 television, movie and theater spotlights.

After seeing his first play as a teenager, Herd knew he wanted to build a career in the performing arts. He encouraged students to follow their bliss as he did, but warned them to set realistic, short term goals for themselves. “You have to have clarity of vision,” he said, “a real vision—not a fantasy vision.”

Richard Herd addresses AUM students. Photo by Frank Williams.

Herd said everything he has done—from his first job as an usher at Carnegie Hall to his latest role in a blockbuster hit—has been to better himself and his career. “You can only be one thing at a time when you’re building a career,” Herd said. For him, that one thing was always an actor.

Now that he is older, however, Herd also enjoys creating music, jewelry, poetry, plays, and artwork. In fact, he has numerous art exhibits to his name, which he was very excited to discuss in an interview after the address. Herd’s passion for art and music shone in his eyes when he spoke of them.

During his address, Herd invited students from the audience to come on stage with him and talk about what they were studying. One of those students was Antonio George, a freshman theater major with silver screen dreams. “You’re so lucky to be able to do something with your life that you truly love,” Herd told George as they stood together.

Richard Herd invites Antonio George on stage. Photo by of Frank Williams.

George was blown away by the experience. “It took the breath away from me because he’s such a great actor and he’s played so many great roles,” George said. “It was nice to be standing on stage beside him as an actor myself.” In addition to George, there were many other theater majors in attendance, as well as many science majors and “Star Trek” fans.

In a Q&A session after the address, audience members asked the Lecture Series guest about his personal life, the people he has worked with and the roles he has played. Many were excited to learn about “Get Out,” a horror movie directed by comedian Jordan Peele which has been playing in theaters since February. Herd played a cameo role in the movie, which was filmed in Fairhope, Alabama.

Herd didn’t know Peele before filming began, but now he’s very glad to have worked with him. Peele, Herd said, is a brilliant man with a wonderful talent for bringing people together on set. Herd didn’t act in the movie for fame or money, but rather for the experience of working with all the young people who were involved. “It was fun,” he said.

Richard Herd signs autographs for AUM theater students. Photo by Frank Williams.

During the interview, I asked Herd why he came to lecture at AUM. “I like to speak to young people,” he replied. “I like to give them the straight ticket and encourage them, but they have to realize they’ve got to work if they’re going to get a piece of the world.”

Herd also praised AUM faculty members Nick Thomas, Michael Burger and Neil David Siebel, who were involved in organizing his visit. “These men here are just wonderful,” he said.

Nick Thomas and Michael Burger pose with Richard Herd. Photo by Frank Williams.

When I thanked Herd for answering my questions, he said, “That’s why I’m here. Now give me a hug!” As we spoke, I was so captivated by his kind words and spirit that I forgot to take notes—something he realized as we embraced. “You can’t remember these things,” he said to me. “You’ve got to write them down!”

Although the other students and I are sure to remember Herd’s advice as we enter the workforce, it was his down-to-earth personality and caring heart that inspired us the most. He’s the kind of star we all aspire to be.