Penn State Faces the Music

Once again, a faction of the Nittany Nation has raised its collective voice in regard to the game-day music played at Beaver Stadium during Penn State home football games. And once again, the school's athletic department intends to respond.

But if you are expecting a replay of the 1992 scenario that saw the athletic department buckle under the criticism of music played during a home loss to Miami by pulling the plug on the tunes completely - thus transforming the place into a morgue during a stunning loss to Boston College the following week — forget about it.

“We have to make an adjustment, but also remember our first objective is to energize the fans who will energize the team,” said Guido D'Elia, Penn State's director of communications and branding for football.

Though he did not know the exact number of folks who sounded off, D'Elia said the athletic department and PSU president Graham Spanier received many complaints about the game-day atmosphere following Penn State's 23-13 win over South Florida Sept. 3. The beefs generally fell into three categories: The music was too loud; The rap/urban-heavy selection was not appropriate; and the timing — at times — was poor.

The volume issue is going to be tricky to solve. Beaver Stadium has an antiquated sound system, one where most of the huge speakers are on the north end of the facility and must project throughout the building. So music that seems extremely loud to folks near the north end zone probably is not nearly as ear splitting for those at the opposite end of the field.

The sound system also plays a small role in the type of music that is played. Thumping, bass-heavy music (like rap) comes across well, but — as anyone who struggled to hear Joe Paterno at Football Eve 2004 could attest — higher sounds are more difficult to pick up. PSU was able to set up a smaller audio system specifically for Paterno's Football Eve 2005 speech, but it would not work for the entire stadium.

Another reason for the rap/urban theme? The Nittany Lions love it. So do many younger fans, particularly students.

“We hear it and see it with the players,” D'Elia said. “A lot of the music is recommended by the players.” Nevertheless, he said, following the complaints, more pop and rock music will be added to the rotation. “We responded to as many people as we could. We will go back over the play list and do a better job with it.”

As for the timing, D'Elia acknowledged that some kinks must be worked out in that department, too. But he disputed the contention that the music played in the stadium did anything to take away from the performance of the Blue Band, explaining that the band will not be in position to present its entire play list until the third game of the season.

In the meantime, D'Elia and company will continue to keep a collective ear to the ground, for feedback on what fans do and do not want. “Now we're getting a different kind of reaction; saying don't back off … something has to change in that stadium.”

As this game of musical musical tastes plays out, D'Elia said he is certain of one thing: The music will not die on his watch.

“We will err on the side of going a little too strong, because we don't want to err on the other side,” he explained.

See The FOS Poll on Music Styles Here.


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