Just a few minutes until air time, and Corona del Mar High School senior Connor Mickelsen was feeling the pressure.
Standing in front of a bright green wall in a converted space in the school’s front office, Mickelsen was ready to go. His hair looked good, his tie looked sharp. But new announcements kept pouring in, and where was the student who would operate the teleprompter?
“They’re stressed,” said journalism teacher Laura Holk-Vaughnes, shooing visitors away and locking the door to the studio. “There are Internet issues.”
Tuesday was the second day ever for Trident TV’s live broadcasts of morning announcements. Six students have been working for months to create occasional video announcement packages, but daily broadcasts didn’t go live until this week.
The Trident TV team spends an hour a day working on their three-minute broadcasts, which on Tuesday included a basketball update and a crawling news feed with information a book drive and a middle school teacher meeting.
The program began this school year, funded with about $25,000 in money from the school’s PTA, but Holk-Vaughnes said she had been pushing to add broadcasting to the school since 2010, when she and a group of students cobbled together a broadcast studio in the now-demolished 400 Building.
“We transformed the old darkroom in my room into a green room, where groups of four students produced their news shows for a week and then rotated with another group,” she said in an email.
The Trident Show used software that included virtual sets with scrolling type and other modern features, she said, but the school administration were not supportive of the program, and ultimately, when her classroom moved, the show died.
Then last year, she said, a student with a passion for film editing enrolled in a journalism class.
“Kyle (Rodewald) possessed a passion for film and editing…and he resurrected the broadcast component of the journalism class,” she said. He and a few other students began attending school functions to film and interview people, and the results were posted online.
“This is when Kathy Scott took notice and encouraged us to go live,” Holk-Vaughnes said.
Last year, Holk-Vaughnes and a few students, along with the high school’s ASB director, visited schools with broadcast programs, working out how to bring something similar to CdMHS. Parent and PTA volunteer Michele Caston, who also is a television news reporter, helped facilitate the project, bringing in former colleague and television news producer Kyle Williams as a consultant.
“The idea was for this broadcast to take the place of audio announcements,” Williams said. But organizers wanted the program to be able to grow and expand, so top-line, professional equipment was purchased and installed.
The camera, he said, is the same model as ones used to televise NBA games. All the equipment is portable, he said, so one day, crews could move it to the gym to broadcast a game. Bright green paint was added to two walls in the studio.
But the green doesn’t show up on television. Instead, the production crews can change to one of several options, which appear on screen as a newsroom, or a sports show, complete with a CdM logo.
Freshman Nick Gildenhuys operates the controls and said the live broadcasts are nervewracking.
“But I was more in the zone than feeling pressure,” he said. “You just have to focus on what’s coming up.”
Monday’s broadcast was a hit, Holk-Vaughnes said, resulting in a deluge of requests for announcements to be made on-air. Last-minute announcements, nerves or maybe just bad luck with the school’s spotty Internet and firewalls spelled trouble for Tuesday’s show.
Everything looked good, but there was no audio. Teachers were calling Holk-Vaughnes’ room, asking about the audio. Later, back in the studio, the six-member team looked crushed as they debated whether they should try to re-broadcast the show later in the day.
“You guys — this is the real world,” Caston told them. “This is so common.”
In the end, they did rebroadcast, as well as work on creating a show for today.
Trident TV will continue to grow, Holk-Vaughnes said. Applications are now available for next year’s crew, with required writing tryouts and interviews.
Applications are available in the school’s front office and are due on March 20, with a mandatory two-hour meeting scheduled from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday.
The announcements are broadcast daily at about 8:50 a.m. and can be seen in classrooms throughout the school. All broadcasts also are archived, and members of the public can see them online; click here for information.