Training on Air
Multimedia Development Center Jumpstarts Careers for Georgia Southern Alumni
If you’ve ever watched the Georgia Southern Eagles on ESPN or streamed an on-campus live event, such as graduation, it was probably produced by the Multimedia Development Center (MDC) at Georgia Southern. While the MDC specializes in producing live events, as well as producing Emmy Award-winning videos, it also is in the business of getting student workers ready for a career in media.
Shelby Head (’19), Allen Lincoln (’15, ’16) and Antoine Sinclair (’15), who work at ESPN, CNN and DAZN, respectively, got industry-standard training from working at the MDC with fellow alumnus Art Berger (’85), who has been director of the MDC since 2011.
“We really emphasize that young people who are in this program concentrate on hands-on experience,” Berger said. “We broadcast about 160 large events a year, including Georgia Southern’s graduation as well as a number of other multi-camera live events. The students are able to get a very good sense of what it’s like to be in a professional live environment, which is a very big selling point in allowing them to obtain the practical experience to go on to further their skills after graduation and be hired in a network level job.”
Head is an associate operator at ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut. She screens programming that re-airs on the ESPN networks and looks for inappropriate content, such as nudity, swearing or video and audio mishaps. After screening, she takes the best content and makes a more fluid version of games and other events for re-air.
“My favorite part of my job is creating revisions and taking all of the information that I wrote down during the screening process to create a more condensed version of a game which is more pleasurable for the viewer to watch,” she said.
Berger said he makes sure the MDC student workers always have a wide variety of technical experiences, so they are prepared for a number of potential roles within a network-level broadcasting environment. Sinclaire used his training at the MDC to securea position as a production control room operator with DAZN (pronounced “da zone”), a live sports streaming platform based in Tokyo.
“Working with the MDC introduced me to sports production,” Sinclair said. “I learned how a camera team operated and communicated with a director. I learned how to set up and prep cameras, how to produce and direct live sports, and what the set up and break down process is for a live sporting event — the parts most don’t see and how the magic happens.”
Lincoln is an operations engineer for CNN/WarnerMedia in Atlanta. He works in the broadcast command center, which is like a call center and engineering shop for all of CNN/WarnerMedia. In his role, he performs quality control to make sure all video, audio and graphics are in specs for air. Employees also call him if they have problems with their broadcast equipment, computers or studio equipment.
“I like the fact that we get to interact with so many different departments and so many different kinds of people,” Lincoln said. “We get to assist other engineering teams and get to learn about different equipment, so we can pass on the info to our coworkers. That’s a big part for me. We also get to actually work on some of the equipment that we are dealing with, so we can know what we’re talking about. We have to know a little bit about everything.”
Even though Head was an art major at Georgia Southern, she found her career in broadcasting through the MDC, where the workflow was similar to what she now experiences at ESPN. Berger said her story is becoming typical for the students that work with him.
“Our students coming out of the MDC are very sought after by employers like ESPN corporate because these employers don’t have to train our graduates,” Berger said. “They can simply hire students into a skilled position right out of college. For example, Shelby didn’t even know she wanted to go into broadcasting. She was an art major, but she really applied herself and really worked very hard with us and continuously asked for advice. At ESPN there were only six positions that were hired out of several thousand applicants, and because of her dedication and professional growth while working at the MDC, she was hired at ESPN corporate in Bristol.”
Lincoln also majored in a different field during his time as an undergrad and got broadcast experience at the MDC. He was also able to pay for an MBA by working as a graduate assistant under Berger. He said his experience using the MDC’s equipment directly translated to his job at CNN.
“When I was a graduate assistant, the MDC was moving to a different area and building a new control room, and I assisted in building the control room,” Lincoln said. “Me and one of the other graduate assistants were pretty pivotal in building that engineering control room. Once I moved to CNN, I realized that literally it was pretty much the same concept in terms of setup except on a larger scale. A lot of the equipment they used may not have been the same manufacturer, but it was used in the same way.”
Sinclair has been on TV and in films in Japan, and he’s also worked the Rugby World Cup as a producer. He said the variety of events he covered at the MDC made him more versatile professionally.
“I think the best part about MDC must be the real-world live experience you get for producing video products,” Sinclair said. “One of the great things about the MDC is they not only produce sports productions, but everything else as well. We never really were involved in the business side as students but by watching Art interact with clients and staff, you get a good idea of how to conduct and present one’s self when in that situation.”
MDC alumni aren’t only appreciative of the training they received at Georgia Southern, but also the memories they made while working on broadcasts.
“My favorite part about working at the MDC honestly would be the postgame break down,” Head said. “Packing up all the equipment from the event we just ran and riding back to the MDC in the school van all together, exhausted, but pumped up from the game. I have memories from those times that are irreplaceable.” — Kyle Dawson