Education

These Texas students run their own TV station. And it’s one of the best in the nation

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The old expression “keep up the good work” is an appropriate description of the student staff at NHSTV, Northwest High School’s student-run television station.

For a fourth consecutive year it has been named the best student-run live show in the Southwest Region by Student Television Network. NHSTV received the honor as part of the 2018-19 Broadcast Excellence Awards, where it competed against other high school stations from across Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas.

The program will now go up against winners from the other five U.S. regions in the STN national competition to determine which show is the best in the country. The national champion will be announced at the STN Convention on March 28 in Seattle, during the STN Excellence Awards Show.

The daily show features students in a full range of roles, including hosts, reporters, camera operators, technical crew members and more. NHSTV is overseen by Jeremy Rawe, its news director and facilitator of Northwest ISD’s Academy of Creative Media Production housed at Northwest High School.

Rawe said the television production facility received a major renovation over the summer thanks to the district’s voter-approved bond in 2017. He said the broadcast program has grown over the past nine years and the show just outgrew the old equipment.

The new facility features a state-of-the-art news set, including news desk, talk show set and chroma key wall. The studio features new Panasonic studio cameras and CueScript prompters. The control room is run by industry-standard Ross Video switcher, CG and playback systems.

“With all of the changes that were not complete until a month into school, our students had a huge learning curve,” Rawe said. “They worked hard and put in many hours to not only learn an entirely new production system, but also create quality 10-minute newscasts.”

Rawe said though NHSTV has yet to bring home the top national prize, he is optimistic about their improved chances this year of upending the reign of CHSTV out of Carlsbad, California, winners in nine of the past 10 years.

“I think this has been our best year yet, especially with the learning curve we endured,” he said. “The student producers and anchors are some of the best we have ever had in the program, and their dedication shows in our product. They spend hours in production meetings before school, shooting and writing during lunches, and covering sports and events after school and on weekends.”

NHSTV has 36 students in grades 10-12 on staff.

“NHSTV allows me to work in a realistic setting that imitates an actual broadcast news station. It teaches me to be responsible, how to work well with others of all ages, and how to take — and give — effective criticism to make sure my peers and I enhance our skills,” said junior Jay Cruz, an anchor. “No matter what field I choose to work in, I will be prepared for a real working environment.”

Kyleigh Thompson, a senior and producer, was also on staff for previous success.

“The award we received from STN was not just a way to tell people we are awesome because we have new and improved equipment,” she said. “It was an award that means much more than that in the simple fact that it took a lot of preparation and bonding for us to really be able to work as a unit and produce such a fantastic show.”

Rawe said the station also gives students a competitive advantage after high school. They enter college and go directly into the workforce having produced a live broadcast each day. They know how to shoot and edit video, write news copy, anchor, and run all of the technical equipment.

“Our facility rivals that of most colleges and universities in our region, as it is all industry-standard technology. This gives our students an edge over other students,” he said. “Often times, my former students call or text from college classes because the things they are learning there are things they learned in their freshman year in high school.

“NHSTV is run like a business, not a class at school. The broadcast is student-led with producers, reporters, anchors and crew. They are ‘employees’ of NHSTV. They also learn professional skills such as communicating with others, leading in producer roles, problem solving and conflict resolution.”

Highlights from NHSTV include a daily 10-minute live newscast, along with district events, such as Facebook Live with Superintendent Dr. Ryder Warren. Over the past three years, they have also had “America’s Got Talent” acts in studio, as well as several YouTube stars.

They also make up the video board crew at Northwest ISD Stadium for all football games for all three district high schools.

Several former students have gone on to careers in broadcasting, Rawe noted. He said they include Taylor Freeman, a producer at NBC5 locally; Taylor Jackson, a producer in Waco at KXXV; and Emily Erwin, a live event producer for University of Central Florida Athletics.

He added that some students have entered the film industry, including Julian Alvarado for Acapurna Pictures.

“The majority of our graduates are still in college pursuing broadcast degrees,” Rawe said. “We have two years’ worth of graduates.”

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