By Dan Maloney
During her shift in the Admission Office, Alyssa McFadden sends a quick email to her guests about directions to the Com Center’s TV Studio. She’s sitting with her friend, co-producer and co-star Caitlin Pajus and they’re prepping for their final La Salle TV episode. Their show, Community Links, has been celebrating its farewell season, and it concluded on Wednesday, May 4, with their finale episode.
Community Links has aired 11 episodes during this, its first and last season. The show has a conversational format and generally includes conversations with both student groups on campus and regional nonprofits or charities. Guests have ranged from Br. Bob in UMAS to Casey Schu, a junior Spanish major involved in both the Honduras service trip and AIDS Outreach, to Julie Zeglen, the editor-in-chief of Generocity, a local service impact news and events group. It is a bittersweet moment because this year marks both the first and farewell season of the show they helped develop and bring to life.
“Over the summer, there was an idea to do a community service show,” McFadden explains. “A lot of us [communication majors] were informed, and we were the first to respond. I recruited Caitlin not only because we worked together making packages for LTV but also because she is exceptionally talented and I knew I couldn’t do it on my own.”
Pajus agrees that their teamwork has made the show such a success. “There’s really nothing like working with your best friend,” she beams.
Their chemistry onscreen is easily apparent to the viewers. Like the other LTV shows, Community Links is a “live to tape” show which requires minimal edits before it goes on the air. In addition, the show is conversational in nature, and Pajus and McFadden do their best to keep the atmosphere on set comfortable and casual.
“There’s no real script, which means we have ultimate control over the conversation and how the show goes,” explains McFadden. “It’s just like having a normal conversation with us, except there’s a camera on set,” she laughs.
Pajus admits that it was a little difficult to adjust to these casual-but-filmed conversations, but, as with many things, practice helped them improve. “It took about three episodes before we really learned to be ourselves and not be nervous on camera,” she admits.
Patrick Coulter, a junior finance major, is an avid fan of La Salle TV. He admits that while he loves learning about the service opportunities on Community Links, it’s the stars that make the show. “They just bring a lot of personality to these organizations and really engage you in what these groups are doing,” he gushes.
Despite achieving their mild television success, Pajus and McFadden are concluding their run largely for pragmatic reasons including scheduling and logistics.
“La Salle has a lot of community service which is fabulous. We loved having this show and the ability to highlight the incredible work that La Salle does,” Pajus explains. “Still, we only have so mnay contacts with so many groups. It’s not a bad thing because we have been able to cover them.”
During their final episode, McFadden and Pajus will talk with the organizers of the Philly Youth Poetry Movement (PYPM), a local nonprofit which, according to their website, “provides a safe space for Philadelphia’s youth to discover the power of their voices through poetry and spoken word.” Notably, PYMP hosts a slam league for students in the Philadelphia Public Schools to compete.
Pajus and McFadden note that they both love showcasing some of the local nonprofits because it added to their understanding of community service in the Philadelphia area. In particular, they listed their coverage of the MS Society and Cradles to Crayons as inspiring in both the work the organizations do and the passion that those involved have for their projects.
“It was such a privilege to be able to talk with these people and get the word out about the work they do,” Pajus says.
Still, both Pajus and McFadden hope that the legacy of their show can continue either through other service related shows or their continued viewership.
“La Salle TV airs episodes for years after the episodes premiere,” McFadden notes. “People who watch LTV will continue to see how much La Salle’s service community does. And hopefully, by watching it, they’ll want to continue to be involved in that community.”
“That’s really what the idea of the show was from the beginning,” Pajus chimes in. “We wanted to be able to help people get involved with organizations both on campus and in the region. And I think we’ve really helped to enable that.”
“Doing this show has really increased an aspect of my understanding of a Lasallian education,” McFadden concludes. We talk about the pillars of ‘Faith, Service and Community,’ and this show really highlighted the aspects of service and community,” she explains. “It was really amazing that we were able to not only learn more but also participate with this close-knit community and celebrate the amazing work both La Salle students and local Philadelphians do.”