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Musicians can’t play for the children in person right now, so Seacrest Studio goes virtual

"With the use of programs like Polycom and Skype, our studio can make connections with musicians and special guests from all over the world.”

by April 2, 2020

Singer-songwriter Payton Smith performs for patients at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt from his home in Mt. Juliet.

Payton Smith, a Big Machine Label Group singer and songwriter, recently performed for more than 300 patients at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt through the hospital’s broadcast media center known as Seacrest Studios.

The novelty of this musical event was that Smith, a self-taught guitar player, wasn’t physically at Seacrest Studios, or even at the hospital. He performed in concert from his home in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. Smith marked the first-ever Skype music performance and guest for Seacrest Studios when his music and question and answer session broadcast to Channel 46 in every room of the hospital.

The studio continued programming to every room with a book reading by WTVF News Channel 5 meteorologist Henry Rothenberg. The following day, patients were treated to a virtual visit from magician David Blaine.

Because patient, family and staff social distancing has become an even bigger safety priority in the age of COVID-19, the team at Seacrest Studios knew they had to take their creativity to the next level when booking talent to interact with and encourage, patients. The burning question for the team: How could they continue to deliver the same valuable, interactive, therapeutic care to children and families in the hospital?

Mamie Shepherd, Seacrest Studio program manager, right, and Cayce Long, media support specialist, continue to work to bring programming to children even under social distancing guidelines.

Seacrest Studios, created by the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, was designed for pediatric patients to explore the creative realms of radio, television and new media in an effort to aid in the healing process for children and families during a visit to, or stay, in the hospital. Those creative realms frequently include in-studio visits and performances by special guests and VIPs.

“Seacrest Studios is a magical place that helps engage patients and normalizes their hospital experience,” said Mamie Shepherd, studio program manager.

“We have seen the broadcast media center reach the masses in our hospital before, through creative and interactive programming, but during this time of social distancing, the studio has opened up a whole new chapter revealing even more of what it is capable of. With the help of our Patient and Family Centered Care team, we have been able to provide virtual therapeutic programming for the patients and families in our hospital.”

With the Smith virtual visit, he performed two songs and talked about his recent Grand Ole Opry debut. Shortly after Smith’s visit, the studio continued programming to every room with a book reading by WTVF News Channel 5 meteorologist, Henry Rothenberg. The following day, patients were treated to a virtual visit from magician David Blaine, who performed magic tricks with patients.

“With the use of programs like Polycom and Skype, our studio can make connections with musicians and special guests from all over the world,” Shepherd said. “Our state-of-the-art technology even allows us to host shows with other Seacrest Studios in children’s hospitals across the country. At a time when so much in our world is changing, Seacrest Studios continues to provide a constant, stable environment for our patients and families.”

Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Seacrest Studios, Mamie Shepherd