TRINE ACADEMICS

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Trine University Scores Media Experts M. Helmke, R. Soto

By Mike Marturello

www.kpcnews.com

Every now and then local institutions score some decent personnel coups, if you will, and Trine University has to count itself among the fortunate this fall.

A couple of guys have found their way to the hallowed halls at Trine, and you can sort of say they come from similar backgrounds, just from opposite sides of the media fence.

One name is familiar to northeast Indiana, a man whom I have known for years due to his association with the office of Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind. The other is a man who came as a complete stranger, but due to my association with the Associated Press, we met up and share being lifers in media.

Mark Helmke, also a former media guy, came to the university after Lugar was defeated in the spring primary. He was working mainly with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in recent years. Now he is teaching at Trine in the Ketner School of Business.

Roberto Soto, the former television bureau chief at AP in New York, took an early retirement from AP then headed west to Angola to accept a teaching position, also in the Ketner School of Business.

Helmke, as many know, went on to form a couple of communications firms that worked for a variety of high-powered clients. First as a reporter then as a communications specialist (and former press secretary for Lugar), Helmke knows both sides of the fence when it comes to media.

Now, however, he is working with teens and early 20-somethings as he prepares them for the real world.

“There are days I would rather confront an angry scrum of reporters than 20 sleepy and stone-faced students for an 8 a.m. class,” Helmke quipped. “I am getting the hang of it. The staff, students and facilities are great. The only thing I miss are the (Washington) Nationals.”

While Helmke grew up in Fort Wayne and summered at Lake James, Soto comes from a different background, having been born in Havana, Cuba. He spent much of his career in New York and Washington, D.C., like Helmke.

Now Soto’s living at Lake James. And instead of fearing a subway ride in New York, Soto fears deer while traveling rural Steuben County.

“I am afraid of hitting a deer after finding a few casualties during my trip from New York City,” he said. “I went to Rural King and purchased a deer whistle, which I have since installed on my front bumper. Let’s hope there are no deaf deer out here.”

Like Helmke, Soto is pleased to be teaching young people at Trine.

“I am delighted to be teaching communications and extremely happy to be living in the Midwest, where most everyone is friendly,” he said. “My students are respectful and extremely eager to learn.”

Soto has also worked at places such as NBC as a producer for a wide variety of shows, such as “Today” and Telemundo, among many other stops along the way.

Having talked to him a bit, I can honestly say he is a hard-core news man.

With Soto and Helmke, Trine University picked up a couple guys that would be hard to land singly, let alone together.

Trine students, consider yourselves lucky to have communications instructors with such rich experience.