Among the myriad of campus organizations that offer students firsthand experience in their future careers is Virginia Tech Television (VTTV), Tech’s one and only student-operated television station. Aspiring reporters, anchors, producers and media creators alike have the opportunity to try their hand at broadcast journalism skills with state-of-the-art equipment and premier editing software. VTTV produces three main shows and smaller side shows with new episodes weekly that cover all things Virginia Tech. Between news and commentary on Tech Tonight, the latest in Hokie sports on Tech Total Access, and the talk show Entertainment Tech, there is a show for anything and everything related to Virginia Tech and the local Blacksburg area.
VTTV has been giving students the opportunity to try their hand at television skills since the 1950s. Many students involved with VTTV have aspirations to work in television in the future, but majors of the members of VTTV range from computer science to business to journalism.
“(VTTV encourages) members to gain as much experience as possible so they direct, produce, host, edit and advertise their own show,” said Maddi Dempsey, a senior double majoring in sports media and analytics and marketing.
Dempsey, a member since her sophomore year, has had the opportunity to work as the station’s social media coordinator and hosted her own show, “Off the Record.” She is now graduating as the general manager.
When speaking on what drew her into joining VTTV, Dempsey said that it was purely by chance, but one of the best coincidences of her life.
“My senior year of high school, I got lost on Virginia Tech’s campus when I was at orientation,” Dempsey said. “I didn’t have my phone and somehow ended up in Moss Arts Center with a group of Liberal Arts students, and there were cameras on every wall, lights in every direction, a sports class in session, and I told myself: ‘I don’t know what this room is or where I am but I want it.’ About three months later, I got into Virginia Tech as a multimedia journalism major and all of my professors recommended I join VTTV. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”
Another student who had no trouble jumping in early on is freshman multimedia journalism major Julia Monahan. As someone who grew up knowing she wanted to be a reporter, joining VTTV was a no-brainer. With her love for sporting events and all they entail, being a VTTV reporter is just as much a hobby as it is a job.
“I’m a part of Tech Total Access, which is specifically sports,” Monahan said. “We report at practically every Virginia Tech sporting event and get press passes for the games so we can be on the court and act as actual press reporting. With COVID-19 restrictions, that couldn’t happen this year, so that is something I’m looking forward to.”
Having joined toward the end of last semester, Monahan said that her experience thus far consists of two parts: observing and learning from current staffers during her first semester and learning on the job during her second semester.
“Our co-producers, Madelyn Mirek and Logan MacDonald, really have been taking on the producer roles towards the end of this semester since our current producer, Katie Leeper, is graduating in the spring and focusing on her career,” Monahan said. “It’s been so great learning from and working alongside these people.”
Staffers have the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art equipment, such as reporting and studio cameras, microphones and sound equipment used in professional settings. In addition to learning how to use equipment, staffers also have Adobe Creative Cloud — the premier editing software — at their disposal. VTTV is anything but play-pretend. Every day, VTTV’s work entails training students and preparing them for their futures in the news television industry. Even for those who aspire to shine on the screen, VTTV offers a unique training experience because it teaches students skills for on and off the camera. After recording interviews for the packages or show segments, students splice and edit their own videos. The final product is entirely independent and allows for each staffer’s individual style and flare to shine through.
The imperative word that describes exactly why VTTV is such a beneficial experience to future media creators is experience.
“For communication or journalism majors, experience is valued more than grades; experience is what really matters,” Monahan said. “Some jobs require a minimum of five years of experience, so starting right now in college is a great way to get up to four years under your belt while having fun.”
However, being part of VTTV is an extremely beneficial experience regardless of major.
For those considering joining, Dempsey said, “(VTTV is) maximum experience guaranteed, minimum required!”