Swimming up ‘stream’: Broadcasting courses adapt to new limitations

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Edward Fox

NEW PERSPECTIVES: Carlisle High School junior Austin Shatto adjusts his camera angles in preparation for a Herd TV livestream during the 2020 Football season. Herd TV has also live-streamed Basketball this year and looks to broaden the sports being streamed in the future.

The CHS Center for Careers and Technology (CTE) programs have had a tough time adjusting during the pandemic. With the classes built on hands-on learning, online academics have presented unpredictable obstacles for the teachers and a change in pace for the students. Yet this hasn’t stopped the broadcasting program from doing what they love. 

“I had to get creative with finding opportunities for students to learn operations and keep their skills fresh. CTE students like to learn by doing,” Ed Fox, the broadcasting teacher, said.  “After I show them the theory and process behind how to accomplish a task, they need time to go do it themselves to really cement it in.”  

Fox added, “In Broad 1, that usually means Herd-TV.  Making that short morning announcement show and all of the other things that go with it (like commercials and public service announcements) is a never-ending stream of chances to make media content.  With the pandemic, a lot of those opportunities dried up.” 

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The Broadcasting program is used to being in the halls of the school, filming news stories and commercials for the school’s morning announcements; however, this year had other plans.

CHS junior Shana Hammaker said, “Broadcasting has been a little different this year, We can only have one anchor this year who has to take their mask on and off after takes. We also have fewer kids in our class, making Herd TV more difficult.”

The curriculum has changed drastically, now calling for online lessons and struggling to get in the building to utilize the information. This year, Fox has had to adapt in other ways to keep his kids involved when they are in the building.

“I shifted our focus more to making the best media we can out of what we have on-hand (cell phones and online editing platforms) and kept our production schedule busy by volunteering to help others in the school,” said Fox. “We helped [Shakespeare Troupe advisers Doug] Hewlett and [Sue] Hench record student sonnet recitals for a competition that went virtual this year.  We even helped [student council adviser Matt] Fahnestock brainstorm unique ways to make a virtual pep rally back in October. It’s been a real challenge.“

Above all else, this year Herd TV has shined the brightest when it comes to the sports season, bringing professional-level live stream broadcasts to the parents and fans of the Thundering Herd and anyone else who wants to tune in. 

The broadcasting team has done streams in the past to unknowingly prepare themselves for this opportunity, along with learning how to properly film different sporting events. 

“We pivoted and expanded with sports this year,” Fox said. “The pivot involved varsity football coverage.  Normally, we shoot highlights for the local TV stations.  That involves staying for 2-3 quarters, then chopping out 3-4 good scoring plays and sending them off to the local sports directors.  This year, we thought our energies were better spent streaming the games in their entirety so that the community could watch them since they couldn’t attend.”

But that’s not to say that this was all challenging and time-consuming. 

It feels great to be able to help out and get more people to see the good work that these students do…Normally what they do for Herd-TV stays within the building, so they crave the real work experience and deserve some outside attention to their effort.”

— Ed Fox, Broadcasting

“We had fun with it, trying to make it better each time by adding some play-by-play and color commentators,” Fox said. ” This winter, Mr. Null asked us if we could also stream some basketball games.  So we’ve done a couple of those now – again trying to improve each time.” 

The students in the broadcasting program have not had this large an audience to showcase their work talents too as the athletic streams open to the public have averaged over a thousand views a stream.

“It feels great to be able to help out and get more people to see the good work that these students do,” Fox said. “Normally what they do for Herd-TV stays within the building, so they crave the real work experience, and deserve some outside attention to their effort.”

Another thing that has helped Mr. Fox create great content for the community is the dedicated students he has.

 One of these devoted students is junior Austin Shatto who has turned the broadcasting class into his passion.

“I love that I can run around with a camera and just film for the school and a side business that I’m a part of,” Shatto said. “Being a cameraman is something I want to definitely continue when I graduate high school.”

Giving students the opportunity to explore these career paths is what the CTE department at CHS is built for, and having teachers that make an impact on the students helps as well. 

“These past 3 years, [Fox] has shown me so many things about the camera that I’ve always needed to know,” Shatto said.  “Whenever there is a school live stream event, I immediately sign up to run the camera.”

Ultimately the challenges of this year have led the broadcasting class to be able to take advantage of new opportunities, creating a bright spot during a difficult time.

Hammaker said, “This year has made the class harder but we won’t stop being creative, even through these tough moments.” 

To access the Herd TV livestreams through the remainder of the year, utilize this link for their YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_hUKqECg3if1aZP5LeJBbQ