Alumni Magazine

FAL-WIN 2016

The alumni magazine for Franklin Pierce University.

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Page 18 of 83

RAVENINGS FALL 2016 \ PIERCE 17 K aleo Griffith '92 always knew he want- ed to be a performer. From his days in starring roles on the Ravencroft stage, the Theatre alumnus went on to a career that spans television, stage, film, and commercial roles. But he's entirely unseen in the stuff that's getting serious attention now. 2016 saw two big projects for Griffith. He was part of a cast that voiced the audio book of L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth, which rocketed to number one on multiple audio book best seller lists last summer. "That was a gigantic book, years in the making," says Griffith, who voices seven different characters. "There were about 40 actors who worked on the audio book, and it incorporates music and sound ef- fects in a way you don't normally hear on audio books." The other huge project was being se- lected for the audio book of Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal. The Republican presi- dential nominee's bestseller was recorded by Penguin Random House, with whom Griffith had done a lot of voice work in the past. He approached the project more like an actor than an impersonator. "Trump has such energy," says Griffith. "So people expect to hear that on an audio book, that sort of in-your-face delivery. So I tried to give the reading that kind of punch, to capture his essence, without doing an outright impersonation." Griffith says a typical audio book takes about three days to record. He also finds it to be steady work, and usually fits in around his stage and television schedule. "I love it!" he says of the work. "There are so many wonderful stories, and it's a great way to stretch the imagination and explore different ways of acting." — Holly Beretto '93 FACING PAGE, TOP: ISTOCK. "This was not done with computers," explained Dr. Kristen Nevious, the Fitzwater Center's Director. "It was all the old fash- ioned way." Even though it was old fashioned, it quickly made an impression. The poll vaulted to national prominence as it tracked Senator John McCain's upset campaign over then- Governor George W. Bush in the 2000 New Hampshire primary. "Franklin Pierce is the school that called it in 2000," says Nevi- ous. "People still talk about that with pride." Among those who remembered that prediction is McCain himself. When he later spoke on campus, Nevious says, the senator autographed a copy of the release that announced the results. "So it was a great success, a huge point of pride," Nevious says. "Students cherished the experience." Last year, the Center struck a partnership with the Boston Herald and political analyst R. Kelly Myers, who has surveyed voters through five New Hampshire presidential primary seasons. The col- laboration is producing a series of polls chronicling the seem- ingly unpredictable 2016 presidential election. The results have been published and broadcast periodically since last March. At the same time, the polling operation has provided an invaluable learning experience for students involved in conducting and analyzing the surveys. Dr. Nevious even structured a course around the poll. Spiner, who served as editor of the Pierce Arrow when he was a student, remembers spending nights working the phones at the polling center. "It was an incredible experience," he recalls. "It was very forma- tive. And it was the best paying work-study job on campus, so I had extra money for my French fries." Student involvement may be one of the reasons that Franklin Pierce has such an impressive track record predicting New Hamp- shire primaries. One of the biggest problems pollsters face is simply convincing voters to stay on the phone and share their opinions with strangers calling them at home. Spiner believes that New Hampshire voters respond more readily – and maybe more honestly – to local students working their way through college than to national pollsters. "I think that there's a home field advantage," he says. Solid Research, Accurate Numbers Solid and reliable polling data is coveted by people in politics, not only because it indicates who's winning and losing, but also because it indicates which issues are resonating with voters. Political opera- tives pick apart the internal numbers for signs of their candidates' strengths and their opponents' weaknesses. Campaigns that can afford their own polls generally don't release the results – no point giving away valuable intelligence – so independent surveys like Franklin Pierce's are usually the only source of voter opinion data available to the public. That's why journalists jump onto stories about newly released polls, providing the institutions that sponsor them with a bonanza of presti- gious publicity. The invaluable exposure that the Boston Herald part- nership brings to Franklin Pierce began long before the first poll was conducted. On the day the alliance was announced, the newspaper splashed the school's logo across the top of its front page next to a photograph of the University's then-president Andrew Card. Indeed, the polls have been cited as one of the main reasons that Franklin Pierce now enjoys a heightened public profile. "The University's surge in name value over the past year is largely attributable to Card's decision to pour resources into the political polling operation," said an editorial in The Keene Sentinel, which described the survey as "among the most widely referenced polls during this year's highly publicized election." Given the poll's track record, it's a safe bet Pierce students and faculty will continue keeping their fingers on the pulse of election cycles for years to come. — Doug Miller (The survey results are available on the Fitzwater Center's website: ) FINDING HIS VOICE The Acting Life Franklin Pierce is the school that called it in 2000.

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