Last modified: Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Kelley School students succeed in bringing 'Mad Money' to IU Bloomington on April 4
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2007
Editors: We can provide for viewing a copy of the IU Mad Money Club's DVD to reporters, but it does include some material that is copyright protected. Contact George Vlahakis for more information at 812-855-0846 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Call him also to arrange for interviews with the students.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Thanks to the efforts of a group of Indiana University students, Jim Cramer and his crew at Mad Money soon will be getting a hospitable Hoosier "ba-ba-boo-yah" when the exuberant former hedge-fund manager brings his popular CNBC television program to IU Bloomington.
The site of the April 4 broadcast -- IU's Assembly Hall -- seems appropriate. Like many basketball coaches, Cramer frenetically paces, gestures and sometimes shouts as he preaches the virtues of the stock market on CNBC's top-rated business program. Catch phrases such as "boo-yah" and "house of pain" are a staple, along with sound effects and other props.
Pundits have called Cramer, also the founder of TheStreet.com, "the Jerry Lee Lewis" of business-show hosts.
"Cramer does what a lot of people do -- analyze the market -- but he does it in such a creative way," observed Mark Bohling, a senior from Schererville, Ind., majoring in finance and operations management. "You don't have to have a complete understanding of the markets to watch his show. He explains everything in such easy-to-understand methods that everyone can watch his show and like it."
Winston Kotzan, a junior from East Chicago, Ind., said he and a few other students at IU's Kelley School of Business made it their stated goal to get Cramer to host a program from IU when they established their Mad Money Club last April. The club now has about a dozen core members and has received considerable support from the larger finance club.
"When I came up with the plan, it really wasn't that well defined. Getting an IU Mad Money show was one of the main objectives," said Kotzan, a finance major. "Surprisingly, they began the Back to School episodes just after I thought up the idea, and that encouraged me to work harder toward the goal.
"Basically, we had to sell IU. It was almost like we were pitching a product," he added. "We had to be very professional about our approach. I knew that it would take more than just writing a letter. We had to do something to really grab their attention."
Mad Money has gone on the road to Harvard University, Columbia University, Boston College, Georgetown University, the University of Michigan, and this semester, the universities of Virginia and Texas.
Initially, the club thought about sending students to periodic, special Main Event episodes of Mad Money. Students actively pursued Cramer and the show's producers through phone calls, numerous e-mails and the club's Web site.
After they had set up the club's Web site -- at www.iumadmoney.com -- Kotzan pursued every angle to ensure search engines would highlight it in search results for the program.
Over the summer, he began calling the Mad Money hotline regularly to ask about stocks during the Lightning Round segment. But the students realized that they had to do something truly special to land the program -- like make a movie to show student interest in Mad Money and pitch potential broadcast locations.
Over the summer, the students wrote, filmed and edited a 10-minute video that starts out in the format of 24, reportedly Cramer's favorite TV show -- presumably after Mad Money. The video includes footage of Cramer sending a "Norman Dale Hoosiers boo-yah" to Kotzan on the air. Club vice president Alex Rosen pitches possible set IU locations -- such as Wells Library, Alumni Hall and Assembly Hall. The video also includes footage of the IU cheerleaders and the Marching Hundred marching band. Kelley Dean Dan Smith closes the video by offering his support.
In early September, the students sent Cramer their video on DVD along with an IU Mad Money Club coffee mug. A few days later, they saw him hoist the mug on his program, which they deemed to be a good sign.
On Oct. 17, the students received an initial answer to their invitation from Cramer on his program. "We're getting Indiana University, you can bet your bottom dollar!," he told a caller from Indiana while flashing a dollar bill in front of the camera. "We're going there! Those guys love this show, and I love them!"
The students received a formal RSVP in an e-mail from the show's producers on Nov. 27.
Regina Gilgan, executive producer of Mad Money, said more than 120 schools and universities have contacted the program about hosting a College Tour event. She said when they received the IU video, "Jim and I decided we simply had to make IU part of the Mad Money Back to School tour."
David Rubinstein, a clinical assistant professor of management, has advised the students. He admires Kotzan's persistence. "Really, this is a story, not about Cramer or his visit to Indiana, but about Winston. I didn't know they made people like him anymore," said Rubinstein, who played a distraught professor in the movie with a "trainwreck" portfolio. "Winston moved mountains."
Alex Frazer, a junior from Terre Haute and technical director for the IU Mad Money Club, added, "When I first met Winston, he was just beginning to gauge the interest of Kelley students for Jim Cramer. Neither he, nor I, nor anybody else in the club could imagine that just about one year later Jim would be coming."
Dean Smith said that the students had the school's whole-hearted support of their effort to bring the show to campus.
"We emphasize to our students that they should have big dreams that have the potential to transform organizations and society. I'm so proud of what Winston and his colleagues have done," Smith said. "They had a bold dream, and they worked tirelessly to make it come true, and in the process, created a huge promotion opportunity for the school and for Indiana University."
Arrangements are still being worked out for the April 4 telecast. Tickets will be made available through the show's Web site, with a strong priority going to Kelley School and other IU students.
Kotzan said he was inspired by a presentation by an IU alumnus who spoke about his role in organizing an on-campus event featuring comedian George Carlin. It made him realize that as a college student, he had a unique opportunity to arrange a similar kind of event.
"When you're a college student, you have a chance to run a big event like this. Why not do it?"