Broadcast opportunities abound at the Merrill College

By Jack Wisniewski

On a résumé, the “experience” section is arguably the most important component in demonstrating one’s qualifications for a position.

“It’s imperative that you show an employer that you know what you’re doing,” says Adrienne Flynn, the internships and career development director at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. “The only way to do that, is to do that.”

Luckily for aspiring broadcast journalists at Maryland, there are several avenues through which to develop the appropriate skills and the less-teachable professional instincts that attract employers.

The journalism school’s website, merrill.umd.edu, hosts a comprehensive list of popular campus media outlets for which students can contribute, though this article mainly focuses on broadcasting opportunities.

The student-run Maryland Baseball Network provides extensive coverage of the Terps baseball team through podcasts, videos, live broadcasts of games, and written features and game stories.

With permission to travel with the team for away games and regular invites to practices, MBN’s abundant access to the Maryland baseball team as a media outlet makes it an attractive destination for those interested in working in baseball.

Although college baseball is seasonal, MBN produces content year-round with monthly podcasts in the off-season and weekly podcasts in the spring. The network covers every baseball game with play-by-play throughout the year through live-streamed audio.

MBN provides the more coveted broadcasting roles, such as announcing, to the most determined applicants rather than those with the most seniority – unlike some traditional media outlets – said Director of Broadcasting Justin Gallanty, a junior broadcast journalism major.

“There’s something to be said for experience,” Gallanty says. “But if a freshman is the best person we have on staff I would have no problem having them do the majority of games.”

With this sentiment, particularly motivated contributors may find themselves immersed in the platform almost immediately.

To join MBN, contact the Director of Broadcasting.

***

Beginning in the fall of 2016 as a project of The Left Bench, a student-run digital media outlet covering Maryland sports, The Left Bench TV publishes a variety of content ranging from semi-weekly news-desk recaps to independent productions in its “Overtime” series of game summaries and analyses.

Joining TLBTV is a perfect way to get on camera before taking the conventionally necessary classes, said creator and executive producer, Alex Flum.

“You’ll get to learn how to use a camera and how to write broadcast style right away,” says Flum, who is now senior broadcast journalism major.

Flum felt compelled to develop TLBTV because he thought there  weren’t enough opportunities for students to get on camera outside of the classroom, especially for underclassmen,

“If you want to be a digital reporter, join TLBTV,” Flum says.

***

BTN Student U produces live content for BTN2Go, the Big Ten’s digital streaming media platform. Through this organization, students can get hands-on experience in full-scale live productions including working as announcers, camera operators, scoreboard operators and technical directors.

This outlet provides experience in the entire production process, from pre-game preparation to post-game equipment breakdown. Therefore, a single broadcast can usually take around five to six hours of time to fully complete.

The “live” aspect of BTN Student U distinguishes it from other video production outlets, says coordinator Mike O’Neill.

“A lot of live production is done on the fly with minimal preparation,” O’Neill says. “Doing stuff with human error definitely teaches you a lot.”

In addition to the experience to be gained in live production, working at BTN Student U introduces students to a broader professional network. O’Neill worked with the University of Illinois BTN Student U during his four years as a student and interned at BTN during the summer after graduating in May 2017.

“I wouldn’t have my job at Maryland if it weren’t for my connection with BTN and BTN Student U,” O’Neill said. “It gives you access to another professional world and knowing people is very important when it comes to getting a job.”

Beyond worthwhile networking, the rewards for contributing to BTN Student U are arguably far more tangible than other student media outlets since it pays students for each production they contribute to.

BTN Student U accepts applications before the fall and spring semesters.

To get involved, contact Mike O’Neill.

***

WMUC Radio allows students to produce live radio programs across the full spectrum of archetypal genres, such as news, music, talk and sports for both digital streaming and radio broadcast.

Typically, students can sign up for hour-long slots to run music programs with substantial creative discretion.

News and sports shows are generally managed by the station’s respective divisions.

WMUC News broadcasts hour-long shows twice a week with regular anchors and features edited packages from contributors.

Independent from WMUC Radio programming, WMUC Sports digitally streams both talk shows and live coverage of Maryland sporting events. WMUC Sports covers has even sent students to cover away games in the past.

To join WMUC Radio, contact their director, listed here.

To join WMUC Sports, contact their director, listed here.

WMUC Radio and WMUC Sports both host open houses at the beginning of fall and spring semesters for prospective students as well.

A 1976 Maryland graduate, Professor Susan Katcef, the director of the Capital News Service Broadcast Bureau, credits her 3.5 years with WMUC Radio as a student as a significant factor in her successful career in radio.

“[WMUC] was essential for me to get my foot door,” Katcef said. “The same thing is true for any one of a number of opportunities whether they’re paid or they’re volunteer.”

As the director the CNS Broadcast Bureau, Katcef oversees the production of UMTV’s nightly news program, which circulates in over 400,000 homes in suburban Washington, according to the CNS page on Philip Merrill College website. The professor has mentored dozens of upperclassmen broadcast students through her 17 years at the bureau’s helm.

“[Experience] can only enhance your ability to get a handle on the skills and dedication that you need,” Katcef said. “As much as your schedule permits, get engaged.”

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