By Shanna O’Mara
Vines clung to posts, spectators to brochures and hosts to microphones as Rider’s 107.7 The Bronc broadcast from Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s (PHS) annual Philadelphia Flower Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on March 5.
This year’s theme was “Explore America,” established in celebration of 100 years of the National Park Service. The show featured competition displays to honor many of America’s national parks, including Redwood National and State parks, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Center, Valley Forge National Historic Park and Independence National Historic Park.
The flower show featured a multitude of trails, exhibits and attractions to please all guests. Visitors were able to view a range of different horticulture from around the country, including the many different types of flowers, lush meadows, desert plants, pinelands, coastal plants and ancient redwoods, and 107.7 The Bronc covered it all during its six-hour broadcast.
“This year’s broadcast might have been our most flawless, even with all the controlled chaos going on,” said John Mozes, general manager of 107.7 The Bronc. “I think [the students] contribute to the energy of the flower show quite simply because we bring youth to it. One of the things the flower show always strives to do is bring a new audience. It’s 188 years old, so I think the challenge is keeping it fresh and gearing it toward future generations.”
Mozes views the show not only as a venue to showcase the students’ talents, but also as an opportunity to grow within the field.
“It’s probably the best learning experience we give our students here at the radio station,” he said. “A lot can go wrong, but they show that they can do this. It’s probably our proudest achievement. Plus, it was started by a student — Jake Tuff (’15) in 2013. It was started by a student and continued by students, so that’s awesome for the radio station.”
This year, not only did a total of 10 students cover the live action at the show, but several student-run and produced shows that normally air on Saturday mornings, including Turf’s Up, Sustainable You, Your Pet Matters, and Inside Your Mind, were also hosted in the heart of the Convention Center.
Sophomore journalism major Mary-Lyn Buckley, co-host of Sustainable You, promoted the idea of environmental awareness during a show, which featured several notable guests.
“[We] had the pleasure of having multiple guests on air,” Buckley said. “The president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Matt Rader, made an appearance on air, along with Tom Morris and Robin Heller, who were two exhibitors who had their work featured on display at The Philadelphia Flower Show. Jules Bruck, a professor from the University of Delaware, and some UDel students; Nancy Kohn, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society director of garden programming; and Glen Abrams, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society director of sustainable practices, all made appearances.”
The PHS chooses the guests for the various shows, giving the students up to two days’ notice to prepare for interviews.
“We leave it up to them. This way, they can provide us with who they feel is right for the audience, who is right for the specific format of the show that’s on the air at the moment,” Mozes said. “There are so many people we can interview, so it can be hard for us to pick.”
The Philadelphia Flower Show is the largest flower show in the United States. The show attracts more than 260,000 people annually, and runs this year through March 13; admission ranges from $30-$34 for adults.
The flower show is split up into different sections. The left side of the show is competition displays made by different schools, florists and companies to show off their take on a national park. In the middle is the PHS Hamilton Horticourt, the plant competition. In the back is the Design Gallery where visitors can learn about and view different floral designs and gardens. On the right side is the Reading Terminal Market, a well-known indoor farmer’s market and food court.
“It was rad,” said senior digital media major Matthew McGrorty, who is the program director at the radio station. “It was really cool. This year was a lot different than last year, which had a movie theme; this year had a different feel. It was a little bit cooler actually because you got to see national parks that you might not have ever seen, or you might know a little bit about. But then you get to see these really cool renditions of it and be transported there, even if only for a minute or two while you’re walking around.
“The exhibits themselves were really nice. There’s something about walking around and knowing that these are places that really exist; it’s not like somebody took something from a movie and made it.”
Aside from the amazement factor, students who participated in the broadcast recognized the educational value behind traveling into virtual forests, through butterfly gardens and alongside blooming sculptures.
“The flower show overall was an incredible opportunity,” Buckley said. “Saturday marked my second time broadcasting at the Philadelphia Flower Show, and it really taught me what it is like to work in the radio industry. I had the opportunity to interview professionals who have been in the florist industry for years, along with college students just getting their foot in the door. It really proves that anything is possible if you work hard.”
Moving forward, Mozes hopes to continue the tradition of bringing a new perspective to the nearly two-century old show.
“I think it always depends on how professional we are. They now bring a lot more radio and TV stations in, so I think our students have a professionalism that is second to none among college radio stations. When we go there every year, that’s the one comment they make, ‘Our staff loves being on the air with you guys.’ That means a lot. As long as we can continue to do that — get their message out, create a learning experience for our students, maintain that professionalism — I would imagine this would continue and be a tradition.”