FAMU 20 prepares amateurs for real world

The lure of television, whether in front of the camera or behind the scenes, attracts most people at one time or another. A student, sitting with friends, watching one more tired reality show or melodramatic daytime soap, says “I can do that… and better.” Everyone on TV got involved somewhere. For students looking to take the first or next step, FAMU TV 20 provides an educational stage for the practical application of their TV daydreams. Station broadcast specialist Tracey Bryant said FAMU 20 encourages journalism students to be active with the station, but stressed that all majors are welcome. “Freshmen are highly urged to participate if they have interest in the field of broadcast, because the longer you are here the more you can learn,” Bryant said. Station director Ernest Jones, a fixture at FAMU 20 since 1999, noted that most freshman and sophomores start out as volunteers before moving up to compete for paid positions. Jones estimated 40 people signed up as volunteers in Fall 2001. Of those recruits, five were incoming freshmen. All volunteers are accepted at FAMU 20, and their progress is tracked as they learn and take on more responsibilities. In learning the ropes, volunteers are trained to operate equipment and work as videographers, editors and studio production personnel. The station broadcasts mostly educational programs, with an occasional movie or special university presentation. Jones said the station produces 20-25 programs a semester, from university plays to band concerts. Those with ideas for a show are strongly encouraged to flesh out their concept with a “treatment”, an outline of the show’s content and flow. Sifting through his files, Jones pulled out a treatment for a program called “Live Love Cafe,” a possible addition to the FAMU 20 lineup in the fall. “We try to get students to think through a series of programs, rather than a one shot deal,” he said.Jones began his TV career in college, with a once a week broadcast transmitted by a line from the campus TV studio to a local cable station. He also worked part-time at a nearby TV station, as do many of FAMU’s broadcast students. Early involvement on campus helped propel Jones further into the field, and he stressed that those with a real interest in broadcasting need to start early. “If TV is your thing, you’re welcome here,” Jones said. “We can always use the help.”