Ryan Teeples: BYUtv uses sports, original programming to churn out highly-skilled TV grads
“BYUtv’s facilities are as impressive as any you’ll ever see, on or off a college campus. First rate all around. Students who get the opportunity to work in this environment get a legitimate professional experience not often offered as part of a college curriculum to this extent,” Edward Placey, senior coordinating producer for ESPN/ABC College Football, said.
Matt Armstrong is a communications major from Evansville, Ind. He spends some Saturdays during football season in the TV booth at the top of LaVell Edwards Stadium running a camera that’s used by both ESPN and BYUtv. That makes for an impressive line on a resume for a third-year student. One recent grad of the program is already doing camera work for Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake broadcasts.
“Only a few of the cameramen are students, so it’s a big opportunity. One thing I love is that our supervisors are so focused on student development here, but have fun doing it. It makes working here so enjoyable,” Armstrong said.
Minor knows the opportunity is great for students, but so is the responsibility of the staff in the broadcast building to prepare graduates to make a difference in the field.
“We understand there’s a mentoring responsibility here. So we don’t get into heavy-handed methods. There are a lot of screamers and yellers in this business. We’re not that way,” Minor said, adding that they do make the students aware those kinds of environments exist though.
He goes on to say that a big part of the work is teaching students professional decorum, using the common faux pas of texting during work as an example. He points out, however, that this generation’s multitasking tendencies are great for TV production aptitude; you have to be fast and prepared for the unexpected.
“This generation is, in many ways, ready-made for broadcasting,” he said.
Whether they’re in the booth doing instant replay work for basketball or running a boom mic for Studio C, BYUtv isn’t just teaching students out of a textbook — they’re rewriting it.
It all means an unparalleled opportunity for BYU’s students and the university as a whole, and it’s working. Just recently, BYUtv was nominated for more than 20 Emmys.
Beyond just the experience for students, BYUtv works to send its graduates across various parts of the industry and the world. The quality of the graduates and the uniqueness of that mission is also what helps fund what is clearly an expensive endeavor.
The support model
Most television networks are supported by advertising revenues or cable TV subscription dollars. BYUtv, on the other hand, relies on its message and mission.
While the network does earn some money from sponsorships, the vast majority of operational dollars come from private donations.
"We have several donors who support BYUtv in large measure because of the students, and their support allows us to provide our students not with a "student experience" but with a truly professional experience,” Derek Marquis, managing director of BYU Broadcasting, said.
“Students might come to BYUB just looking for a job, but they quickly get hooked and then they're telling their friends that they should come and work here as well. As a result of the professional mentors they get to work with in a hands-on environment and in a state-of-the-art broadcast and digital media facility, they leave BYU with not only a great academic experience, but with a skill set that many working in the broadcast industry are still trying to acquire."
The network works with dedicated fundraisers who work with individual donors to share the vision for the program and the effect it has on students and the university.
Rex and Ruth Maughan are donors to BYUtv from Scottsdale, Ariz., who have embraced that vision.
“We are truly amazed every time we walk into the broadcast studios, particularly on game day, and see dozens and dozens of students who, in an instant, are transformed into broadcast professionals," they said. "We doubt you could find anything like this of this magnitude anywhere else in the world."
Ryan Teeples, twitter.com/SportsGuyUtah, is a marketing and technology expert, full-time sports fan, owner of Ryan Teeples Consulting Inc. (RyanTeeples.com) and regular contributor to LoyalCougars.com.
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