10 Questions With Entertainment Director Jake Bramande
Mechanical engineering students don’t have much free time, but what’s it like to be an engineering student who also happens to oversee all aspects of THON’s entertainment? Meet Jake Bramande, THON’s Entertainment Director. Jake is responsible for making sure THON Weekend’s entertainment moves along according to plan, something easier said than done. We were able to pry Jake away from his duties long enough for ten questions:
Onward State: In terms of responsibilities, how does this year’s Entertainment Committee differ from last?
Jake Bramande: So for the first time in 20 years, Entertainment is DJing THON weekend. We’re also DJing all pre-THON activities and what that allows us to do is become a 100 percent student-run philanthropy, which is really cool. What makes THON so special, in my eyes at least, is the student volunteers. They take time out of their college lives to come together to conquer childhood cancer. So for us to become a 100 percent student-run philanthropy is really exciting.
OS: Who calls the shots when it comes to DJing throughout the weekend?
JB: I have a team of eight DJs, two DJ coordinators who are head DJs and a team of six DJs. They rotate for one hour shifts throughout the weekend.
OS: How is the music chosen?
JB: [The DJs] make their own playlists and have their own songs. One thing we’ve really stressed this year is trying not to repeat songs so we’re actually tracking that. No song should be played more than four times this weekend. This plan has been in effect since July. I can’t tell you how many hours we’ve been putting into it, but the change affects my entire committee. We have 30 captains and it affects what they do throughout the weekend.
OS: How long does the process of choosing songs take?
JB: Entertainment DJs 45 other THON events throughout the year, not including THON weekend. So what’s really cool is that the DJs can play a song in front of a thousand people in September and see their responses and say ‘alright, I want to play that one.’ And they can do the opposite; they play a song that doesn’t get a reaction and they cross it off the list. It’s really been a trial and error process since September.
OS: So the DJs just play their own playlists?
JB: THON as a whole has a music library so [the DJs] pick their own playlists for their shifts. We have pre-planned playlists and I don’t want to say it’s as simple as pressing a button, but we have our own software that mixes the playlists.
OS: Do the music styles change with the hour of day?
JB: Entertainment is responsible for creating the THON weekend timeline. It breaks down the whole 46 hour event into five minute increments throughout the entire location. [Bramande pulls out the timeline and shows me] So for example, right now I can tell you that we’re in the middle of a dancer shoutout and there’s going to be a line dance right after that. It’s all planned out literally to the second. It’s a process that starts in September and it goes until February.
OS: Is that planning the most stressful part of your job?
JB: I have two timeline coordinator captains who are responsible for creating the THON weekend timeline and I just oversee that. I guess the most stressful part of my job is piecing all of the aspects of entertainment together. So the videos, the DJ team, the bands, the local acts, the floor events — we’re responsible for all of those on top of the timeline. There’s so many different moving pieces that I have to constantly be focusing on.
OS: How does entertainment go about choosing bands?
JB: So I have two band coordinator captains. They go out and audition bands. This year they auditioned 34 bands throughout not only the local State College region, but throughout the entire Tri-State area. We try to bring in some new fresh faces for THON.
OS: Do you think there’s a band that the crowd responded to more than most?
JB: Well it’s Sunday morning so I’m pretty sleep deprived, but I think Garden State Radio was really good. I thought Lowjack had a good set. Honestly I think all bands have been good so far.
OS: Have you had time to take a break and just take all of this in?
JB: My main responsibility during THON weekend is making sure everything goes according to plan. I kind of have to think 15-20 minutes ahead but there have been a few times like during the Pep Rally for example that I could just take a deep breath and look around at all the colors and the lights, the bands, everything and just take it all in.