What does the future hold for our FM graduates? Rarely does the college faculty know because so few stay in touch. But, occasionally we get an email like this: "I took a class of yours that changed my life. I didn't have a goal or idea of what I wanted to do with myself. I took your TV production class almost 12 years ago on a whim."
That was Kyle Goldy, formerly of Amsterdam. You may not see his name on TV, but you may have seen his work. For the last seven years he has been a live show director for the Home Shopping Network.
The Florida resident said his girlfriend was going back to college and she asked about some of his teachers. Thinking about FM, he wrote, "If I hadn't taken that class I probably wouldn't have the job or career that I do." His start at HSN was setting up products for shows on the overnight shift. Once working for the company, he was able to apply for new openings. His talent and work ethic lead him to a director's chair within three years.
Goldy spends three hours a day in preproduction and four hours directing. Easy? It is an unscripted show with the presenters using cards with talking points and unscripted movement on the TV set. Behind the scenes, Goldy is coordinating the actions of an additional nine people. That's all it takes to get the show on the air - live, no editing. The TV production crew on any given show consists of a producer, director, assistant director, one or two robotic camera operators (in control of up to five robotic cameras), stage manager, jib operator (camera), hand-held (camera) operator, audio operator, and a graphics operator. HSN operates with three fully-operational HD control rooms. HSN is live 24 hours a day, seven days a week and only shuts down for Christmas Day.
"I enjoy knowing that I am in charge of the output of the network when I sit down to direct. Whatever button I push, shot I take or decision I make is what the customer and viewer in up to 98 million homes is seeing," Goldy wrote.
He said the reality for anyone who wants to get into television is to be ready to work odd hours, weekends and holidays. Most networks broadcast 24 hours a day, so being available and eager to work no matter what the hours will be a plus. The same could be said for many businesses.
Like his girlfriend, Goldy is thinking about what is next. And, that's what FM's faculty asks of our graduating students. We get a partial answer-more school or work or don't know.
We have invested much time and effort in their futures, and we would love to know that in some way the effort has paid off. We are just a phone call, email, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever media, away. Graduates don't need to be strangers.
James Hinkle is associate professor of communication and broadcast media.