Tuning in…


Jana L. Haas

With pillow, compact disc player, CDs and snacks in hand, Mikael Watkins headed to the video edit bay.

“I was ready to stay overnight if I had to. We were under deadline and we had to have our pieces ready,” she said.

As a student in an advanced television productions class, Watkins was required to prepare a three to five minute piece for “Jackrabbit Reports.”

The show, a half-hour news program, is aired on the SDSU channel and highlights campus events. The requirement helps students to obtain real-world experience in an academic setting to plan for future careers.

Mikael Watkins, a 2001 graduate of SDSU, values her TV production experience from the university. Watkins worked with three campus-produced television programs for three years of her academic career. She received training with editing equipment and Final Cut Pro, a popular brand of video-editing software.

She is mainly interested in film and says the television productions classes helped. She also took classes in stagecraft, make-up, and costuming to prepare for a career in film.

She plans to move to California next summer to look for prospective jobs and make career connections. She wants to get into film by starting as a production assistant and working her way up.

Watkins advises students to get involved with organizations as much as they can.

“Do things that pertain to your major. Get experience and get to know your professors? they can really help you out,” she said.

Students can get involved by helping with three educational television programs produced on campus regularly by the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service. The studio is located in Pugsley Hall.

“Midwest Market Analysis” (MMA) is produced year-round. It airs on South Dakota Public Television on Friday at 9:30 p.m. CT and on Saturday 12:30p.m. CT. “MMA” is a weekly agricultural marketing program aimed at producers in South Dakota.

“Today’s Ag” is also produced year-round and is a commercial broadcast for KELO-TV, Sioux Falls, and KOTA-TV, Rapid City. The half-hour, weekly television magazine focuses on South Dakota agriculture and rural life. It airs Sunday nights at 10:35 p.m. CT on KELO-TV in Sioux Falls and KCAU-TV in Sioux City, IA. “Today’s Ag” recently regionalized its broadcast area into parts of North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota.

“Garden Line” is an hour-long, weekly call-in program aired only during late spring and summer. The show involves a panel of SDSU Extension specialists who answer horticulture questions about lawns, gardens, and houseplants.

“Garden Line” airs at 7 p.m. CT and 6 p.m. MT on the South Dakota Public Television network.

There were nine students that helped with the production of “Garden Line” in the summer of 2002. Five students currently help with “MMA” and “Today’s Ag.”

Students can help with producing, editing, interviewing, audio, filming, mixing microphones, videotape sources, and electronic graphics.

Working on the shows is beneficial for students in that it helps “prepare them for the real world,” said Mark Venhuizen, Extension videographer and technologist. “Students can put it on their resumes and it is a good experience.” Venhuizen is the production manager of “Today’s Ag.” He graduated with a master’s in education from SDSU in May.

Students who help with the shows get hands-on experience and can earn college credit.

April Hetle, sophomore radio, TV, and film major from Huron, S.D. works at the television studio on campus. She helps with all three shows doing graphics, camera work, lighting, and set design.

Hetle is the treasurer of TV Club, which also organizes events and outings to help prepare students. Last spring, club members attended the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Convention in Las Vegas, Nev. The convention informed students about jobs available in their respective fields.

TV Productions, 321 Main Ave, often hires SDSU students to help with the production of a variety of shows. The often have four to eight students working each semester. TV Productions produces mainly sports shows, corporate videos for training, and commercials. TV Productions recently broadcast the Hobo Day parade.

Students help with designing sets, lighting, audio, computer graphics, and moving equipment. They can also go out on video shoots to do interviews and film.

“We offer students exposure to a variety of job skills. We’re small enough that everyone gets to do a little bit of everything at least once. A lot of it depends on what the students want to do,” said Jay Vanduch, co-owner of TV Productions.

Dean of the College of Arts and Science, Jerry Jorgensen, advises students to “learn to write, speak, and think. The advantage of a four-year college degree is that it not only provides depth in your education, but breadth as well. The courses you take in the core are as important as those in your major.

The marketplace is very competitive and employers not only want graduates who are knowledgeable in the field, but want critical thinkers and problem solvers as well.”

Jorgensen earned a bachelor’s in broadcast journalism in 1978 from SDSU and a master’s in mass communication in 1984.

He worked as a student for four years with University Relations (then called News Bureau), and interned with Ag Communications.

“The real-world experience with professionals in the field was really helpful in landing my first job. I was able to apply much of what I learned from classes, but also had to learn a lot through ‘on the job’ training.

The nature of television is so fast-changing that I was being exposed to new equipment that was not around when I was in school. The principles I had learned were the same, but the tools kept changing.

“As a broadcast journalism student, the program here at SDSU had a nice balance between theory and practice. Having the Public Broadcasting facility here was a real asset and gave students some valuable hands-on experience,” he said.

#1.887895:610455725.jpg:tvprod.jpg: Senior speech communications/ radio, TV and film major Ian Bingner sets up a shot for ?Midwest Market Analysis? last Friday. ?MMA? airs Friday at 9:30 p.m. and Saturday at 12:30 p.m.:Theanne Tangen