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Students get on-the-job training with Friday Night Football

Tigerville, SC (November 22, 2019) What began as a local television broadcast of a North Greenville University (NGU) football game, has flourished into a rewarding partnership and on-the-job training for NGU broadcast media students. Dr. Andy Stevens, assistant professor for NGU’s College of Communications & Fine Arts, began work with WLOS/WMYA (My40), based in Asheville, NC, as a handheld camera cable tender to produce a NGU home football game in Tigerville. Through this contact, Stevens was asked to bring in some of his broadcast media majors.

“Jack Connors, the general manager for WLOS and WMYA at the time, had been hiring college students to work as production assistants for high school games and I became a conduit to fill in the gaps,” said Stevens. “Over time, Jack was so impressed with our students that he asked me to take over handling all of the production assistants for the My40 high school football productions.”

This year, broadcast media major Christopher Jalbert (expected ’20) from Summerville, worked on the NGU ESPN+ broadcast and with My40 since 2018 as a utility and camera operator. Josue Mateo (expected ’22), a broadcast media major from Taylors, was a camera operator for MY40’s final game of the Friday Night Rivals 2019 season.

These student opportunities are allowed based on student work from previous seasons when students were called on to fill production roles such as a utility or camera operator. A utility fulfills a variety of roles: a time-out coordinator, a statistics assistant, cable tenders for both the sideline reporter and the handheld camera operator, and a parabolic microphone operator. When students run a camera they function as regular crew members. They are there for setup, game, and strike-down afterward.

In past years, Allen Ellis (’17), Daniel Glaidous (‘18), and Jacob Thornton (’18) worked various roles for the production and based on their performance, MY40 contacted Stevens again to fill other needs. Ansley Brock (’18) was chosen as the sideline reporter for Friday Night Rivals in South Carolina for one season. Bethany Lipscomb (’19) filled in as a sideline reporter for one game in the 2018 season. 

We are so blessed to have NGU students work with us each season. Dr. Andy Stevens has laid the foundation for this amazing partnership. The skills Andy has already taught the students when they arrive make training a breeze. It is always so amazing at the end of the year to look back and see how much growth and knowledge the students have achieved,” said Kelly Jones, My40 producer.

Jones says not many college students get the opportunity to work a live, remote television production; it is an amazing opportunity to see how things work and also what to do when sometimes things do not go as planned.

“Andy's students go above and beyond to do whatever asked of them. Even if we assign them one certain job, they will always pitch in and help wherever needed,” said Jones.

Jalbert says his main responsibilities vary from game to game depending on the role he is assigned.

“I've worked as a utility, which splits into several different positions. Being a utility you might find yourself running behind the sideline cameraman pulling the 500 ft. cable behind him, or I would be responsible for running a parabolic microphone, or other times working in the truck running stats on players,” said Jalbert.

As a camera operator he is responsible for arriving at the football field about six hours before the game to begin set up of his camera and run camera/audio cables around the stadium. Once everything is set, he double-checks all his camera settings.

“My main responsibility [as a camera operator] during the game is to follow the action and try to give the director good shots of the game. After the game, I take my camera setup apart and bring it back to the production truck to store for the next game.”

He says most importantly he gained practical experience learning how to build a $250,000 camera setup to working with a team of broadcasters.

Stevens says this relationship with MY40 has been of tremendous value in helping prepare students for the sports production workplace. They also use the time after the strike to reflect on lessons learned.

“I ask them to share a nugget [a lesson learned from each production], we discuss how our faith impacts how and what we do,” said Stevens. “This is an opportunity to train students as leaders who will make a difference in the workplace.”

Stevens is grateful to My40 for giving students this opportunity. He says the on-the-job training is “fantastic” and the contacts have led students to other work. “I have worked in NFL games alongside some of my former students. Other students are now working the sports production circuit and positioning themselves well to grow in the production craft.” 

For more information about degree opportunities in the College of Communications & Fine Arts, visit NGU.edu/college-of-communication-and-fine-arts.

Photo: NGU Broadcast media major Chris Jalbert (expected ’20) from Summerville, worked on the NGU ESPN+ broadcast and with My40 since 2018 as a utility and camera operator.  

              

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