By Ashlee Galloway
“It was just a surreal moment to hear my name called. It took me an extra second or two to comprehend it. Being nominated was an honor in itself, but winning the category just made it so much more special.”
2014 Red Lion graduate Ben Otte took home an Emmy award for the “News: General Assignment” category at the NATAS Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards ceremony on September 19, 2015 at the Philadelphia Hilton.
Otte’s award winning video featured a student who was well known around campus for playing his trombone on the rooftop of his apartment building.
“I would always hear him play outside my dorm,” Otte said, “He was just a street away. When I walked to class I looked to my right, and I saw him there in the distance with the sun gleaming behind him. I was always thinking to myself how neat the story is. Many people talked about it so I knew I wasn’t the only one paying attention to it. It was just such a cool story so one time I went up to his apartment and yelled for him to come down and it took off from there. He agreed to do the interview and brought me up on to his rooftop. It was incredible.”
Throughout the ceremony, he was introduced to several “higher ups” from Philly’s FOX affiliate and Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia. “Overall, it was just amazing to share the moment with the best in the business,” Otte said.
Studying Media Studies and Production, he has a wide background in news journalism. As a student at Red Lion, he was an avid photographer and videographer for the Leonid and RLA-TV, as well as during sporting events.
From a young age, he has been interested in news and broadcast, “Being able to tell a story through a video was just something special for me. I remember actually feeling that I “owed” it to others at times. In high school, producing a video and knowing that hundreds were watching when it played was a surreal feeling Then, hearing others talk about it throughout the day and telling me how much they enjoyed the videos basically told me that this was something I was supposed to do. I knew I was in the right place…”
Currently, Ben is working for Temple University Television as an editor and producer. Working on numerous shows at the School of Media and Communication, he is the Production Supervisor for OwlSports Update and Director at Temple Update, which are both Emmy award winning productions.
Of all of the people who have helped him to achieve his success, he would owe it to his older brother Kevin. “We’ve always had a close bond,” Otte explains, “he’s just always been there for me when it comes to video production. He’s taught me the bulk of best practices I know when it comes to shooting and editing. He’s really great at giving me constructive criticism (and I always ask him for it) so I really have used that to better myself.”
To other students looking to pursue a career in production, his advice for them is to “outwork everyone.”
“Always be willing to improve. Do what you truly enjoy doing and the rest will follow. Set high goals for yourself and stick by them. Stay humble. And always, always, always take advantage of the people (not always older) that are around you.”
See the video at www.youtube.com/user/otteben
By Ben Wesley
In person, DaNica Shirey doesn’t come across as a superstar. She’s soft-spoken and friendly. Just a bit of a technophobe—she didn’t get an iPhone until she became a contestant on a popular reality show. And truth be told, she’s kind of short, too.
But this Red Lion Senior High School alumna may very well be one of the best singers in America after becoming one of the top 8 contestants on season 7 of The Voice, a televised singing competition on NBC, and getting her current position as a singer for Philadelphia’s prestigious Big House Band.
So how exactly did DaNica Shirey go from Red Lion student to nationally acclaimed singer?
She credits her father as inspiration. Though he wasn’t a professional singer, he had a love for music that was passed down to his daughter. Shirey remembers sitting on his lap as a young child. “We’d make up words back and forth to each other,” she said.
Shirey started young. She began singing for other people around age 8, and was singing at paid gigs by the time she was 14.
In the high school, Shirey had surprising choices for what she considered to be the most helpful classes for her career: public speaking and drama. Both were taught by the late English teacher Sara Yorty, who Shirey considers to be a particular inspiration. “It definitely helped me be more prepared for interviews, being able to talk to people and stuff like that,” Shirey said of the classes.
I asked Shirey if she had any advice for someone who wanted to aspire to be like her, and she said:
“Be positive. Don’t dwell on negative things in life. I’m probably the happiest person I know. Always try to reach for better goals, and know that if today isn’t a good day—just know for a fact that tomorrow will be better. If you are very passionate about something, you know, don’t give up on it. Do it because you love it—don’t do it because somebody tells you to; do it because it’s in your heart. And when you end up succeeding later, it’s going to make you feel amazing because you kept going towards that goal.”
By Ian Adler
The rain is coming down. The sky is dull and dreary. The family embraces each other. However, there is something and someone missing. August 6 is a day that will stay with the Zerbe family for all of their lives, as they mourn their son Daniel at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
On August 6, 2011, Zerbe, a 2001 Red Lion graduate, lost his life along with 30 other Americans in a fatal helicopter crash in the Wardak province of Afghanistan. Zerbe was a member of the Air Force Pararescueman, an elite group of military personnel who specialize in extraction methods and first aid.
“He was the most selfless human being I’ve ever met,” John Smeltzer, Dan’s high school best friend, said. Zerbe’s death was traumatic to him as well. Zerbe was both a football player and a wrestler. Today, his memory lives on with his family, who visits his burial site at Arlington National Cemetery as much as they can.
They also assist with the “That Others May Live” foundation, which offers aid to Air Force Pararescueman and their families. According to the foundation’s website, their goal is to “provide critical support, scholarships, and immediate tragedy assistance for the families of United States Air Force Rescue Heroes who are killed or severely wounded in operational or training missions.”
“It’s something we know Dan would want us to do,” Dan’s father, Terry said. The family
stays local and appreciates all of the support from Red Lion, but every year, more and more local and national support seems to find its way to the Zerbe’s doorstep.