VIDEO: Molly Jean McGrath appearance on the Stimmung Stunde

Molly really saved our program when she came on the “Stimmung Stunde.” We were in the middle of changing stations and had I not had this interview set up, I might have walked away from the show…and this all led to meeting Tracy Gest and starting the PageantCast…

Note: Videos are only accessible from the website at http://news.pageantcast.com/

VIDEO: Nikki Groppi, Miss St. Francis 2004

Nikki is a delightful guest. She later came on the show to sing “Stille Nacht” for our Christmas program.

Note: Videos are only accessible from the website at http://news.pageantcast.com/

VIDEO: Myla DalBesio appearance on Stimmung Stunde

Myla has a great radio voice–you’d never know she was a teen contestant from just listening!

Note: Videos are only accessible from the website at http://news.pageantcast.com/

VIDEO: Jenna Shultz, Miss Wisconsin USA 2004

I just saw Jenna at the latest Miss Wisconsin pageant, and she is actually becoming even more beautiful each year. Make sure to watch this exceptional young woman in our exclusive video.

Note: Videos are only accessible from the website at http://news.pageantcast.com/

FROM the Miss North Carolina’s Blog: Miss America Lottery

Miss America is finally becoming a reality! Tonight every contestant participated in the contestant lottery. This process was a mystery to me until this year, as it probably is for many. In case you’re curious…

Each contestant logged onto a special web page that showed all of the available placements. There are three preliminary groups labeled Mu, Alpha, and Sigma. Each group contains 17 or 18 placements. A computer randomly chooses states, displaying who is up to choose her slot and who comes next in line. When it is your turn you have five minutes to call the Miss America Organization with your choice.

It was a blast to see everything unfold in real time. Now it is really possible to visualize what the week in Las Vegas will be like. I am in the Sigma group. This means that I will have my interview, swimsuit, and evening gown on Tuesday; talent on Wednesday; and onstage question on Thursday. For a view of the entire line-up, check out the Miss America Web site.

What a fun way to begin the week! I will finish the month of September with another round of school visits (19 schools to be exact) and Mint Hill Madness. September has been a whirlwind of weeks. Between visiting students, attending festivals, and Miss America preparations like the lottery, I have been a busy Miss NC.

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VIDEO: Tracy Gest, Miss New Berlin 2005

Tracy Gest went on to become Miss Wisconsin 2005 and is one of the main reasons the PageantCast exists. I started the ‘Cast because I was going out to see Tracy compete at Miss America 2005 in Vegas. Now, we are nearly 100 episodes old and still going.

Note: Videos are only accessible from the website at http://news.pageantcast.com/

Miss International pageant features student contestant

Kellie Geist

Issue date: 9/26/07 Section: Features

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Ashlei's future holds hopes of becoming an FBI agent.

Media Credit: photo contributed
Ashlei’s future holds hopes of becoming an FBI agent.

While the rest of us will spend the next couple weeks going to classes and work, Ashlei Sothard will be hanging out in Mahé in the Seychelles off the east coast of Africa. But she won’t be lounging poolside – Sothard will be representing the U.S. in the 36th Annual Miss International Beauty Pageant.

“I was on stage at the Miss Kentuckiana Pageant when they told me I’d been selected to go,” she said. “It was really exciting.”

One of just 44 contestants from around the world, Sothard, a senior criminal justice major, will spend 10 days posing for photo shoots and strutting her stuff for the Oct. 13 worldwide telecast. But her pageant career is only four years in the making.

“I started competing when I was 17 with the Miss Kentucky Teen USA pageant,” Sothard said. “I’ve been competing ever since.”

Sothard has been named Miss Kentucky Teen Model 2003, Miss Kentucky Hawaiian Tropic, Miss Kenton County 2006 and Miss Virginia Hawaiian Tropic 2007. However, she’s never been in a pageant that took take her away from home, work and school for three weeks.

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VIDEO: Melissa Young, Miss Wisconsin USA 2005

One of my favorite interviews was with the delightful Miss Wisconsin USA 2005, Melissa Ann Young. It was no surprise when she went on to be Miss Congeniality at the national contest.

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Winners Cite Broken Promises in Pageants

When Ashley Wood was crowned Miss South Carolina in 2004, she thought her title came not only with a tiara and a shot at Miss America, but also a $20,000 state scholarship and $5,000 national pageant scholarship.

Clay Spann

Ms. Wood said Miss America scholarship winners “encounter one obstacle after another.”

This fall, Ms. Wood entered the Wharton School, the business-studies arm of the University of Pennsylvania. But she has yet to receive any of that scholarship money, having been locked in a dispute with the Miss South Carolina pageant for more than two years.

“You are talking about an organization that is promoting itself as the largest scholarship provider for women in the world,” Ms. Wood, 26, said of the Miss America Organization. “When contestants try to collect their funds, they encounter one obstacle after another.”

Ms. Wood said she was told that she would not get the $20,000 for winning the Miss South Carolina pageant in part because her two local pageants had not paid her $950 that she had won from them (Ms. Wood said that after she enrolled in classes, one group reneged on payment and the other dodged her when she tried to collect). In turn, because she did not receive the state money, the national pageant sent her a letter in June saying she was ineligible for the $5,000 from it, even though the deadline to use her national scholarship had not passed. “It’s like a game of gotcha,” she said. “What is very clear to me is that the goal is to not give out the scholarships if at all possible.”

Ms. Wood’s is among the most prominent disputes in recent years involving the pageant system, which endures — albeit diminished — since network television dropped the Miss America Pageant in 2004. But there have long been complaints that the 1,200 local and 52 state pageants run under the aegis of the national pageant often do not distribute scholarships to winners. The contestants say their difficulties collecting their money surprise them, given that the Miss America system promotes itself as a scholarship pageant rather than a beauty pageant, unlike its main rival, the Miss USA contest.

Interviews with contestants across the country describe a Miss America system in which local pageant directors do not return telephone calls and e-mail messages for months, local competitions close down before scholarships are distributed, and the fine print in contracts creates hurdles. Local winners across the country have threatened legal action, and some have taken it.

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VIDEO: Caitlin Morrall, Miss Southern Wisconsin 2004

Before Caitlin became Miss Wisconsin USA 2007 and was a top 15 finalist at Miss USA, she was Miss Southern Wisconsin and hunted spiders. At least, she did on my show–I was too scared to deal with it.

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