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Calhoun loses $31,175 on Studdard’s concert
Former American Idol draws small crowd in wake of thunderstorm

By Bayne Hughes · 340-2432

Calhoun Community College lost about $31,175 on the first big concert in school history, and the possibility of future concerts is undecided.

The college spent $34,025 for the concert featuring former American Idol Ruben Studdard and four local acts as part of its 60th anniversary celebration. The costs included paying talent and staging the concert.

But the Sept. 27 concert only collected $2,850 from ticket sales and sponsorships. About 300 people attended. A thunderstorm before the concert, held on the Health-Science building’s front lawn, hurt the walk-up crowd.

While disappointed, Calhoun President Marilyn Beck said the concert was part of the student activity program. She said student activities aid in student retention, so the college is having more.

“I don’t know if we’ll hold another concert, but I wouldn’t rule it out,” Beck said. “If we do it, we’ll probably do it a different way.”

Public Relations Director Janet Martin said the concert didn’t have the corporate sponsors it needed to offset the low ticket sales. She said school officials didn’t want to adversely affect the Calhoun Foundation’s ongoing capital campaign.

Six students interviewed at random said they did not think the college properly promoted the event. They said the weekend was already full with the concert on Thursday, a day before Big Spring Jam.

Even though the college announced the concert Sept. 6, several students said they didn’t know about it until the week prior to the event.

“It sounded really fun, and I would have liked to go, but I had to work,” said Brittany Britton of Huntsville. “If I had a little more notice, I would have been able to schedule off from work.”

Curtis Gardner of Athens volunteered at the concert. He suggested the college should have let its student clubs sell tickets.

“The clubs would have sold a lot more tickets,” Gardner said.

The students’ comments on publicity surprised Martin and Beck. The college spent $3,204 on radio and electronic billboard advertising.

Announcements were posted around campus, on the school’s Web site and the hall television monitors in almost every building. Plus students received e-mails.

“If the students didn’t know about the concert, it was not because of the lack of information available to them,” Martin said.

She said paying Studdard was the biggest cost. He added star value to the event. Radiology students Chad Shell and Mark Ward, both Decatur residents, didn’t attend but would like the concert as a regular event. They disagreed, however, about whether a big-name act is necessary.

“I’m more apt to go see somebody I know,” Shell said. “But I’m all for supporting local people, and I think people will come see them, if they’re good.”

Shell said he thinks it’s better to have a big headliner. “Then you bring in more people and make more profit,” he said.

Student Kristin Reed of East Lawrence said she didn’t attend because she had to work and she’s not a Studdard fan. She prefers country music.

“I would have gotten time off if it was Carrie Underwood (another former American Idol),” Reed said.

But the students realize that they all have varying tastes in music.

“We need a little bit of everything,” student Sidonie Nupa of Huntsville said. “I like a lot of diversity.”

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