Hometown: Lexington, NC
Not Your Father's Ties
Known since day one on campus for wearing a tie, Austin Bell has since added to his boarding school collection, to match-and sometimes artistically mismatch-his inimitable wardrobe of funky suits and eye-catching shoes. It's showbiz. The Davidson Show biz. As founding reporter, writer, director and producer of the wildly popular variety newscast, Bell wants people to see him coming. At least, most of the time.
A Sense of Self and Community
The Omphaloskeptic was an early sign of Bell's journalistic proclivities. He gave that name, meaning "navel gazer," to the underground newspaper he founded at The Asheville School. Today, each episode of The Davidson Show premieres in Alvarez College Union before it's available on the Web. That's intentional. "It's a product that brings the community together, with 250 to 300 people at each show.... And I love creating for Davidson because I have a built-in audience who I know, because I'm part of it. So I don't have to do that market research!"
The Marvels of Modern Media
Bell's innate sense of how to leverage communications technology extends into the local community as well as the classroom. The Town of Davidson viewed a Davidson Show segment on commercial development as information for council's ordinance discussions. Bell helped organize and then shot documentary footage of a student civil-rights bus trip to Jena, La. And when it rained on his outdoor production of Waiting for Godot? No problem. "It allowed everybody to experience the existential anguish together."
The Perfect Canvas
Bell's pioneer spirit is crystallizing in a senior thesis for his major in psychology and as one of the first Davidson students to declare a concentration in communications studies. The liberal arts, he declares, are just the right canvas for fully informing the breakneck technology of modern mass communications. "If you don't read literature, if you don't understand the culture, if you don't understand how the mind works, you're not going to be able to do anything with the camera once you know how to use it."