My eyes are trained on my 15 pound camera’s viewfinder, looking for the perfect shot. As I steady it to a huddle of Palo Alto High School football players, I suddenly hear in my left ear, “Ready camera two, take camera two.” A red light pops up on top of my viewfinder; my work is on air. I slowly pan to the left, following the players to the line of scrimmage. After pausing for a few seconds, the red light ceases as I hear, “Ready camera one, take camera one.”
I am one of a dozen of teens involved in the Mid Peninsula Media Center’s Sports Broadcasting Program which broadcasts high school sports games live to thousands of viewers around the world.
Standing on the top row of the Paly bleachers, wearing my headphones, I listen to the director — I am his eyes and ears. Whatever he tells me to do, I do.
In the production truck parked behind the stadium, the director stands looking at multiple camera feeds. The action never stops.
The process of broadcasting a live sports game requires synergy between the director, cameras, technical crew and announcers, all of whom are elementary, middle and high school students. Chuck Alley, the leader of the MPMC’s sports broadcasting program, stands in the back of the production truck. While Alley gives advice when needed, he generally lets the students run the show.
The MPMC is one of a handful of video studios around the U.S. to offer students the ability to learn sports broadcasting hands-on with professional equipment.
“Normally, students don’t actually get their hands on professional equipment until college,” Alley says. “The more hands-on application, the faster you will learn the basic skills and be successful in the [broadcast media] industry.”
Paly junior Brian Sotnick is an active participant in the MPMC program and recommends it to any student looking to experience what it is like to broadcast a live show.
“It’s an amazing opportunity that [ages] 12 to 14 teens are given the ability to produce a great show,” Sotnick says. “This is a very rare opportunity for students.”
In fall 2012, the MPMC began offering students the ability to broadcast high school sports games for community service hours. In fall 2013, they started broadcasting games live on Comcast channel 28 and on their website.
“Anyone in the world can now watch their nephews and grandchildren play sports,” Alley says. “I have had so many people come up to me during the games and thank us for streaming these games live.”
Students, including Chapman University senior and Paly alumnus Wesley Rapaport, have also taken advantage of the program to jump start their careers in sports broadcasting.
“The Media Center is a unique place in the sense that people come in with a wide variety of knowledge and learning levels,” Rapaport says. “In some of my professional work with Comcast or at my internships, people are expected to be at the highest level. [MPMC] has given me the opportunity to develop my leadership skills.”
When I’m behind the camera there is no greater feeling of satisfaction than hearing that my shot is on air. I know that each image I film positively contributes the local community, and it is for this reason that I keep coming back to Viking Stadium each Friday night for the Paly football games.