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Calhoun Community College students and faculty film 4CTV's 'The Calhoun Review' half-hour regular program Thursday in the new, state-of-the-art production facility in the Noble Russell Building on campus. A handful of students from a radio announcing class sat in to observe on-air interviewing techniques.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Calhoun Community College students and faculty film 4CTV's "The Calhoun Review" half-hour regular program Thursday in the new, state-of-the-art production facility in the Noble Russell Building on campus. A handful of students from a radio announcing class sat in to observe on-air interviewing techniques.

Behind the scenes
Calhoun's TV station in new state-of-the-art studio on campus

By Danielle Komis
dkomis@decaturdaily.com · 340-2447

Occasionally, a small "recording" sign in the back hallway of Calhoun Community College's Noble Russell Building glows red.

Inside the studio near the sign, more than 50 lights hang from the ceiling and three $10,000 cameras are pointed toward a living room set.

A 200-pound lead soundproof door separates the studio from the control room, where studio lights, audio and cameras are controlled. The electronics lab past the control room is littered with hundreds of wires, small parts and lights, midway through repairs.

The small recording sign is the only clue that this new, state-of-the-art production facility is inside, where students are learning valuable skills for future careers in radio, photography, filmmaking and TV.

"We're hoping this will continue to grow to offer a full broadcast program one day," said John Colagross, photography and film communications professor and broadcast director and engineer. "We just expanded everywhere we could."

New digs

Until recently, the college's production facility was in an 800-square-foot classroom in the Fine Arts Building — significantly smaller than the new 1,300-square-foot facility.

The station is able to have such top-of-the-line production equipment, because they've pinched pennies and gotten great deals over the years, Colagross said.

Also, when a local business shut down, Calhoun purchased a lot of quality production equipment from them for "only pennies," Colagross said.

The production facility is not only used as a lab for students, but also for producing distance learning productions, productions for students in other programs, community nonprofit projects, and original programming for Calhoun's 4CTV station and its smaller 2CTV (aired only on campus.)

Broadcasting in action

Thursday, Colagross and 4CTV production engineer Wes Torain and production specialist Phillip Parker were in the studio preparing for "The Calhoun Review," a half-hour show featuring public relations director Janet Kincherlow-Martin and other faculty members.

A handful of students from Colagross' radio announcing class sat in to observe Martin's on-air interviewing techniques. A few also tried working the cameras for the first time.

Students typically are "blown away" when they see all the high-tech equipment for the first time, Colagross said. Once they start using it, they're hooked.

In fact, many students from non-related majors sign up for film and photo classes because they enjoy working with the equipment so much.

"We get the full run (of students)," Colagross said.

Hands-on experience

Colagross' students said they've enjoyed the experience they've gotten so far in their classes. Last week, they created their own one-hour radio shows in the radio studio across the hall from the TV studio. Each student chose the music, campus announcements and weather announcements that were used in their segment.

"It was fun being behind the mic," said student Cory Bradley, who plans to go on to Auburn University or Alabama A&M University to become a sports broadcaster. "I love the experience. It's helped me learn different technology."

Eventually, the school hopes to broadcast the radio programs via the intranet.

Stacy Bell, who hopes to work in the music industry, enrolled in Colagross' class after she ran across it in the college catalog of classes. More students would probably get involved in the production classes if they knew more about them, she said. Currently, about 100 students are enrolled in classes that use the facility as a lab, Colagross said.

Spreading the word

Students said they're surprised more students don't get involved in the classes or with 4CTV because it's such a unique, educational experience.

"We're trying to get the word out," Bell said. "We hope to let people know to come join us."

Work-study student Brennen Smith has worked with the station for two years and become a "jack of all trades" at the station.

His experience there has given him confidence in whatever related career he pursues in photography or videography when he graduates in May, he said.

"When I came there I knew practically nothing, especially compared with what I thought I knew," he said. "I've learned a lot now that wherever I go I can adapt quickly."

Which is exactly the purpose of the classes, Colagross said.

"With the Internet, there are so many more possibilities coming up," he said. "It's just becoming a whole different world. The products are the same but the way we produce them has evolved and we're trying to keep up with the changes."

Colagross hopes the school can offer a broadcasting degree eventually, but only if the marketplace demands it.

"The interest (of students) continues to grow," he said. "But we want to make sure we have enough demand for the position."

What is 4CTV?

4CTV station debuted about six years ago as a way to connect with distance education students, and provide film, photo and radio students with hands-on experience. 4CTV partnered with Charter and PCL cable to reach about 50,000 area homes on Channel 4, 24 hours a day, seven days per week.

Since then, two other similar ventures have evolved from the station: 2CTV, a station broadcast only on Calhoun’s campus. Soon, they hope to have a radio station broadcast on the intranet.

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