GTP turns 40, next 40 appear bright
For the past four decades, campus life at UW-Green Bay has been regularly enhanced with performances by musicians, inspirational speakers, comedians — even hypnotists. But there isn’t a sign hanging anywhere on Nicolet Drive asking passerby troubadours to offer their talents in exchange for cash or goods. Rather, the students and advisers of Good Times Programming have tirelessly brought high-quality entertainment to UW-Green Bay to enrich student life and create a greater sense of community throughout the campus.
Good Times Programming is 40 years old this year, and like any organization reaching such a milestone, it has evolved with the community it serves. Michael Stearney, former UW-Green Bay student and GTP board member and current UW-Green Bay dean of enrollment services, remembered the formative years of GTP fondly.
“A lot of the events happened at a club up at the edge of campus, it was called Shorewood Club,” Stearney said. “There was a small bar and alcohol was available — obviously things are very different today.”
When the precursor to GTP was formed in 1972, it was known as Shorewood Activities and was headquartered in a converted farmhouse. The early accommodations didn’t dampen the spirit of early board members or students looking for entertainment; in fact, the rustic patina helped create an off-campus feel during gatherings.
“The pine-wood veneer and fireplace gave you the impression of being off campus,” Stearney said. “We had some very memorable, very big events. There wasn’t much in the way of campus life — back then, our group was responsible for any entertainment that came to campus.”
As students graduated and board members changed, there has been an occasional need for rebranding. The first rebranding initiative occurred in 1977 when Shorewood Activities became Good Times Ltd. This was at a time when the Segregated University Fee Allocation Committee had decided to limit funds for GTP.
“Our good times were being limited by SUFAC,” Stearney said. “When that name was chosen, they were poking fun at the committee for cutting our funding.”
(Click thumbnails to see GTP changes from 1972 to the present.)
Regardless of official title or the era in which a board member served, former and current board members recognize how vital a role entertainment can play in campus life at UW-Green Bay. Shannon Williams worked in multiple roles for GTP prior to graduating with a degree in communication in 2003, including executive director of GTP from 2002-2003. Williams enjoyed bringing entertainment to campus and feeling the excitement of fellow students.
“There is something so rewarding about watching other people have fun,” Williams said. “And knowing we were responsible for creating a college memory for students which would last a lifetime — I’ll never forget that.”
Unforgettable is one word to describe the list of notable performers, speakers and comedians who have visited UWGB during GTP’s 40 years of operation. In 2004, filmmaker and political activist Michael Moore visited UW-Green Bay’s campus. He was barnstorming colleges and universities nationwide to promote his incendiary film Fahrenheit 9/11 and rally opposition to administration policies. (In the interest of fairness, bookers inquired about the availability of prominent entertainment/political provocateurs from the other side of the argument, but found no takers in their price range.)
Grant Winslow, GTP faculty adviser, remembers how intense media coverage was prior to and during Moore’s visit.
“Michael Moore was definitely the most controversial figure to be booked to speak for one of our events,” Winslow said. “He visited at the height of his fame, (and) security was intense too.”
Shelly Missall, GTP board member from 2002-2005, held the position of mainstage during Moore’s visit to campus and still recalls the buzz surrounding the event. The lightning-rod fillmmaker energized supporters but also outraged campus and community foes who protested his appearance at the Weidner.
“The Moore event was the most exciting thing I’ve ever been a part of in my life,” Missall said. “I’m still shocked how much security he brought along with him.”
When board members are responsible for creating backstage passes for student workers, Missall learned, it is beneficial to submit their own names to security personnel as well.
“Moore’s security was so strict, they wouldn’t let me backstage at first,” Missall said. “One of the things I didn’t think of was to add my own name on the list. They barred me until one of his aides could identify me as a student worker — good thing too. I was the one responsible for introducing him to the audience.”
(Click thumbnails to enter slideshow view.)
If Moore was the only speaker to draw large crowds both inside and outside, many others have filled the hall. Funnymen Jimmy Fallon, Lewis Black and Collin Quinn have also been big hits. Dustin Diamond, better known as Screech from “Saved By the Bell,” even made his standup debut in the Phoenix Rooms. To read a list of other notable event productions visit this link.
UW-Green Bay has many organizations committed to student involvement and extracurricular activities that will shape relationships and experiences during a college career. GTP has been a leader in this capacity for 40 years and many former board members credit their time with GTP as more than just a job. Dylan Dybdahl, GTP board member from 2006-2008, noted money wasn’t a motivator during his time with GTP.
“GTP was the most fun and rewarding experience I had; I can’t imagine my college experience would have been like without it,” Dybdahl said. “Board members are paid a stipend each semester but that didn’t matter to me. It was the friends I made that mattered most.”
Jessica Hammond, current GTP executive director, has been a board member since spring 2010 and prior to that was a student volunteer for one year. As of next spring, Hammond will have accrued five years of service with GTP — which will make her the longest-tenured member in its 40-year history. Like other board members throughout GTP’s four decades, Hammond notes the strong bond formed among team members.
“We’re like a family, we work so closely together. You experience each other’s ups and downs,” Hammond said. “It’s a tight bond we form; everyone puts their heart and soul into our programming and everyone wants GTP to continue its success.”
UW-Green Bay students, faculty and staff have been attending high-quality events for 40 years due to the commitment of GTP’s board members, volunteers and faculty advisers. The next 40 years of campus life will undoubtedly be richer due to the efforts of students yet unknown as they follow in the footsteps of a some of those who have considered their fellow students more than just a community — but in fact regard them as family.
Hammond summed up why GTP has enjoyed so much success for 40 years — and what likely will be the source of its future success.
“When we put on a show, GTP’s name is going on it and we are the people who make up GTP — it’s like we’re putting ourselves out there,” Hammond said. “I can’t imagine having a job or being a part of an organization that’s this much fun.”
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Good Times Programming – Major Event Productions
Rock and Entertainment:
MTV Choose or Lose Tour
The Goo Goo Dolls
Collective Soul and Fastball
Jimmy Eat World
Switchfoot and Relient K – SOLD OUT
David Cook, American Idol champion – SOLD OUT
Hot Chelle Rae
May 2013 – Phillip Phillips, reigning American Idol champion – SOLD OUT
Educational, Lecture Programs:
MTV’s Loveline – Featuring Dr. Drew Pinsky and Adam Carrolla
Jose Ramos-Horta – Nobel Peace Prize winner
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. – Environmental speaker
Judy Shepard – Activist, mother of slain college student Matthew Shepard
Academy Award Winner Michael Moore – Film maker and political activist
Blake Mycoskie – Founder and CSG of TOMS Shoes
Jimmy Fallon – Saturday Night Live, NBC – SOLD OUT
Lewis Black – The Daily Show, Comedy Central
Dean Edwards – Saturday Night Live, NBC
Dave Coulier – Full House, ABC
Colin Quinn – Remote Control, Daily Show, Tough Crowd, SNL
Ben Bailey – Cash Cab and Cash Cab After Dark, Discovery Channel
The Price is Right LIVE! – SOLD OUT