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A look into the “The Friends of Max Kolb Telethon”


On Sunday a tradition very close to the hearts of the Hofstra community carried on; a tradition that preserves the memory of one of our own. The 12th Annual Friends of Max Kolb telethon took place here on the Hofstra campus.

The telethon is held in memory of Hofstra film student Max Kolb, who passed away in 2001. The telethon raises money for a scholarship entitled the “Max Kolb Memorial Scholarship” which is awarded to an eligible film student here at Hofstra who is chosen by a professor for this honor who shares the love for film like Max did.

The telethon was started back in 2002 by one of Max’s many close friends, Laura Fu. It started off as her senior class project for RTVF 165 in spring 2002.

“We had to pitch a show to our professor Dr.Gershon for our senior class project and I decided to do the telethon,” says Laura. “It started off as just a way for me and other friends and family to remember him, but it turned out to be more than just that.”

“The telethon takes about six months to plan,” says Dr.Gershon, who has been the faculty adviser for the Friends of Max Kolb Telethon since 2002. “Every year the producers of the telethon come up with a different set and a different theme.” Dr.Gershon usually has a sense of who the producers will be by the end of November, and from there the planning begins.

This year’s producers are senior production and business major, Alyssa Rizzitello and senior video and television major, Erica Schwaninger. Besides writing the script, designing the set, and picking a theme they also choose the hosts for the telethon which are Hofstra Television personalities. There is also a band coordinator who will choose the bands that will perform at the telethon. There are many bands preforming at the Telethon this Sunday including Blue Lenex, Nick Tangorra, and Jesse Andrews.

But the telethon holds so much more meaning for those who work on it here at Hofstra, as well as those who started it.

“I do a lot of stuff here. I supervise a lot of shows I am the adviser to the television production program and out of all the shows I am directly involved with this is one of the shows that is closest to my heart” says Dr. Gershon.

When Laura Fu first started the telethon it was a way to grieve and remember Max.

“A lot of the crew knew Max personally, a lot of the volunteers who answered the phones the first year were our friends” says Laura. “For that first year it was not about how much we could raise, or about making the best produced show, but more about remembering his life. We wanted to get together and let him know that we remember him.” 

 Laura Fu who originally started the telethon says she thought the telethon would only be a one-time thing, but now it’s here twelve years later. “It’s a great feeling to know that so many years later the School of Communication would keep this going and take care of it so well.”

Laura says the telethon is very unique in that it brings everyone in the School of Communication together.

“When I was there it was separate; it was audio, film and TV. The telethon is crewed by TV. Students support and showcase film students, and I know the radio station has a huge part in it too but here we have one medium that shares the efforts will all students.”

In addition to the telethon there is also another memorial for Max on campus. Outside of Dempster Hall there is a bench in Max’s memory which Laura helped raise the money for her senior year via Entertainment Unlimited and Hofstra Concerts along with help from the Hofstra Community. “I hope people from Dempster use it as a place to sit and study.”

“The telethon has become its own entity. It has become a lot larger than I thought it would be. I feel like Max would feel humbled to know that he helped push this forward.” says Laura.

Dr.Gershon says that just the fact that we still have the telethon is the single biggest thing that keeps Max’s name and memory alive. The Twelfth annual Friends of Max Kolb Telethon aired this Sunday at 9pm on Hofstra Television and online at maxkolbtelethon.com.

I am a junior Broadcast Major at Hofstra University. I enjoy writing for my school publications because it always brings me back to my first love of print.
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