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Broadcasting renovates with $1.3M grant

Published: Thursday, October 7, 2010

Updated: Thursday, March 3, 2011 17:03

President Obama's stimulus money has not only helped businesses nationwide, but it is also "stimulating" higher education. ETSU's Division of Radio/TV/Film is one of the beneficiaries of the monetary boon.After years of requests, a $1.3 million stimulus package was allocated in June to aid the broadcasting division in updating equipment and facilities.

Technology evolves quickly, so the update couldn't have come at better time, says Communications Department Chair Dr. Amber Kinser. "Requests to update the RTVF equipment have been in the works for quite some time," Kinser says. "The unit's move to becoming wholly digital necessitated a complete overhaul, so we could not purchase the equipment piecemeal. It had to be acquired all at once and that put our need beyond the reach of ETSU's ability to fund. Stimulus money changed all that and gave us the sizable one-time funding boost we needed so badly."

Any time money is set aside by the government for educational purposes, the benefits and beneficiaries are examined, reported the Associated Press on its website. Many schools request stimulus funding each year, but only a few are selected based on their proposal for need of the money.

"We put our request in the pool of numerous other programs who had funding needs when ETSU got word it would be receiving stimulus monies," Kinser says. "Our need was long-standing, and great. Administration recognized that these changes were absolutely necessary and very unlikely to get funded any other way, so our equipment updates were given high priority."

The funding is creating excitement in broadcasting and giving the students more to look forward to this fall. "The money is being used to update our equipment and to renovate the physical space which will result in a much more efficient use of the spacing that we have," says Assistant Broadcasting Professor Tammy Hayes. "The renovation will result in an up-to-date high definition television facility that will be used by faculty and students. This facility will give the students access to the latest industry standard hardware and software.

"The improved facility will also give faculty and students the opportunity to produce high quality programming and creative research."

The new equipment will allow students to study more distinct and high-tech disciplines in the field, Hayes says.

"These renovations are a change of pace for the department and will be able to take students in new directions," says 29-year-old C.J. Ferguson, a senior in broadcasting. "We desperately needed the new equipment. It was a sigh of relief when I heard we finally had received the money to update. We're going digital! With the new changes that are being made and a new professor coming, there will be so many amazing things happening at once that as an old student of the division, it's going to be mind-blowing."

Experience with the cutting edge equipment will make ETSU broadcasting graduates stand out among others seeking employment, says ETSU's Radio Station Chief Engineer Daniel Santiago. "Our students need to enter the workforce with a practical working knowledge of the workflows, process and the equipment needed to create content," Santiago says. "To use the analogy of learning to drive, you can read all the books on the subject but until you combine that knowledge with actually driving a car you can never become proficient and fully understand what it takes to drive the car and avoid obstacles like potholes and snarled traffic. It is not until you are on the road that you realize that you must also learn how to navigate from point A to point B. For our students it is pretty much the same basic principle."

The money for equipment and upgrades is great, but the hard task is choosing what equipment will help the students best prepare for the future, Santiago says. Some of the equipment will include 50-inch plasma TVs, Sony high definition video cameras, Mac computers, Mac client software, student editing desks and studio headphones.

Not only will the students have new equipment but they will also have new facilities. Some of the upgrades to the first floor of Warf-Pickel include: electrical wiring; new doorways; shelves for digital TVs; walls to create new environments that are more conducive to learning; a new electrical system to handle the demands of the new equipment; new air conditioning and fiber optic cable units to handle the heat created by the equipment, lights and people; a professional control room; a professional audio studio; a new classroom with editing bays; and an advanced video-editing area.

"The renovations have created new spaces where none existed before," says Communications Department Multi Media Specialist Candace Bryant. "We're all excited with our new look, new spaces and a flow that will allow for maximum efficiency."

The upgrade was long overdue, Kinser says. "We have actually been requesting and needing this money for years and years," she says. "We have not been able to keep up with trends in the industry because our equipment was largely analog. The industry has long gone digital."

This new equipment and facilities will not only be used by broadcasting students but will be available to other students in the department, as well. "The whole department will benefit since students from theatre, PR, advertising and journalism take radio/TV/film classes," says Hayes, who has taught broadcast at ETSU 21 years. "We also have students from other areas that take our classes like film studies minors, digital media and English majors."

There are many students that will directly and indirectly benefit from this influx of funding, says 24-year-old Matthew Lawson, who graduated in spring with a master's in broadcasting. "I believe that the new renovations will be of great help to the broadcasting division," Lawson says. "For students studying broadcasting, it is of the upmost importance that they use and work with equipment and technology that is as close as possible, if not the same, as the technology used in the actual work field."

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