The heart and soul of the Citizen Media Center rests in the vision of its founders – Marlana Eck, Rick Smith, and Kevin Mahoney. Each of them bring passion, expertise, and experience to the Citizen Media Center and are uniquely positioned to be leaders in the area of Citizen Media training and support in Pennsylvania.
Marlana Eck is an educator, scholar, and founder of two rapidly growing digital publications, the Lehigh Valley Vanguard and Rag Queen Periodical. The Lehigh Valley Vanguard began as a project during an independent study in Activist Rhetorics she did as part of her MA studies at Kutztown University. Since 2014, the Lehigh Valley Vanguard has occupied a space “at the intersection of art and politics,” an intersection Eck knows well. Eck has deep roots in the Easton, PA arts community both as a working artist and active member of the arts community. The Lehigh Valley Vanguard stands out as a one-of-a-kind publication in Pennsylvania for curating in-depth political/cultural analysis alongside the fine arts – visual art, poetry, short story. Eck has expanded the Lehigh Valley Vanguard well beyond the bounds of a publication. It now serves as a kind of focal point of a political/artistic community in the Lehigh Valley. She now hosts a bi-weekly online show, Lehigh Valley Vanguard LIVE ON AIR, broadcast live on Google Hangouts and archived on their YouTube channel. In addition, Eck has held multiple fiction, poetry, and nonfiction readings and forums built around the publication. She has shown herself to be an agile and creative practitioner of new media to build community and expand civic discourse.
Rick Smith just celebrated his tenth year on the air hosting The Rick Smith Show. The Rick Smith Show, focuses on the issues and struggles most important to working class Pennsylvanians and Americans. The Rick Smith Show is broadcast live from 3-6pm, five days a week on terrestrial radio and on the web at www.ricksmithshow.com. In 2015, Rick expanded his platform to include two podcasts – one for his daily radio show, and another for Labor History in 2, a short daily podcast focusing that day in Labor History, produced in partnership with the Illinois Labor History Society. Both podcasts were awarded 2015 Top Ten podcasts on Podbean in the categories “News and Politics” and “Education.” Rick’s long history in the labor movement has allowed him to build deep roots within both organized labor and working class communities across the country. Many of Rick’s guests are academics, lawyers, and policymakers from across the country who are recognized experts in studying issues and struggles relevant to working class Americans.
Kevin Mahoney is Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at Kutztown University. He has taught at the university for fourteen years and has helped develop innovative, new media programs first in writing classrooms. Mahoney helped establish the university’s new, high-demand minor in Digital Communication and New Media. He has presented numerous papers at flagship academic conferences and has published on new media strategy for activists and advocates. In addition to his academic work, Mahoney has worked in the field of digital and social media for over ten years. He first brought his work in new and digital media to his faculty union in 2005, establishing blogs and social media campaigns designed to enhance the organization’s online presence and broaden its impact. In 2011, he founded Raging Chicken Press, an online progressive media site, which now boasts close to 15,000 views per month – with as many as 58,000 views during a single month. In addition to breaking several state and national stories, Raging Chicken Press has worked to cultivate and support young and emerging digital journalists focusing on issues and communities that the establishment media generally ignores. Raging Chicken Press has gradually built a name for itself – especially in the activist communities and in the state capital, Harrisburg.