Glen Dale, W.Va.- (WTRF) WJMH Media has been building its brand since 2005.
Lights, camera, action!
Inside the studio at WJMH Seniors, like Madi Wilson, gained confidence preparing them for the real world.
Wilson says, “To anyone who would be willing to do the broadcasting program and is debating it, I would say completely 100% do it. It is one of the best things that I think I’ve ever done at John Marshall High School.”
Madi says she has always been hard on herself when it comes to the expectations she sets as a student in the classroom.
She wasn’t sure whether college was even an option.
“Broadcasting happened and I made friends I thought I would never be been friends with and I found a really, really good environment for me to be able to feel safe and comforted by the people around me. High school is difficult for a lot of people, but having that kind of environment and that kind of classroom can make your high school experience so much better,” says Wilson.
Madi says what resonates with her most is how well the broadcasting students work together relying on one another as they add their piece to the final product.
“Coming together and seeing everyone work together and watching our final video at the end of the day is honestly so amazing. You get to see every piece of every work. If you pay attention you get to see what everybody else put in and I never really did group work, but this is amazing.” says Wilson, “I love seeing everybody’s portion of it going into the whole video and seeing me do what I like to do on the video too.”
“I have ran technical director, director, camera one, two and three, teleprompter, audio technician as well as both anchor positions,” says Senior Andrew Sampson.
Sampson, who followed in his brother’s footsteps, says he didn’t mind learning every aspect of the television operations.
He says, “As long as I am running a camera or running a teleprompter I am more than happy. Running a camera is something that I think I’ve gotten the most experience with and something I have enjoyed the most out of working at WJMH Media.”
Andrew will attend college in the fall studying law enforcement with the hopes of becoming a police officer on some level.
According to Andrew, “In law enforcement I mean you are considered a public servant so you deal with the general public almost everyday and being able to have good communication, smooth communication and be clear and understanding to others while doing your job is something that’s super important with law enforcement because sometimes things can escalate without proper communication.”
He says the communication skills he tried to master while in the WJMH Media program will help him tremendously in his field while on the job in the future.
“Being able to be independent and not have to rely on somebody I mean that’s a necessity for whenever you get into adulthood and since I am a senior and I am going to be going to college I feel that’s a pretty big part and this program has helped me a lot. Working with WJMH Media and going out into the field and getting interviews or emailing people has definitely upgraded my communication skills and it’s taught me a lot about how humans interact with each other not just through vocal communication, but through emails and letters and stuff like that,” says Andrew.
WJMH Media Career & Technology Education Teacher Carly McElhaney says, “You don’t realize how many students in their junior year of high school don’t know how to write a professional email and so just giving them the confidence to be able to write a professional email or make a phone call. I know adults my age who don’t like to call and make their own doctor’s appointments. They may not realize it, but later on they will have the confidence to do something as simple as call and make their own doctor’s appointments because they have had to make phone calls and do interviews and write professional emails. Those are things you can’t avoid in any business be it broadcasting, law enforcement or whatever you want to go into those skills you have to have.”
Spend an afternoon with McElhaney and it clear to see this teacher loves what she does.
McElhaney continues, “I have students down here all day that come eat lunch in here that just want to be here and hang out and I love that because that’s how I was in high school. So, to be able to give the students that space because I was able to have that space is just an amazing feeling and again seeing them grow both in their broadcast performance, in their professionalism and just in who they are as people is just an awesome feeling.”
McElhaney herself was involved in the program as a student at John Marshall.
She also says, “I feel like it all just kind of just comes together. That’s what I tell my students that no matter what you are going to do these skills you can apply them. So, obviously I am applying the broadcasting skills that I have learned, but the communication skills in general I am applying as a teacher.”
There’s a lot of learning going on in the studio, but what McElhaney says she wants them to take away the most may surprise you.
McElhaney adds, “While obviously they realize they’re learning new things in broadcasting I think there’s kind of a hidden soft skills side to things where they’re learning those without even realizing it.”
In addition to the exciting things that are going on in front of the camera, there are impressive things going on behind the scenes.
Senior Leah Beaton says, “My favorite part working as technical director is when I get super focused in on my job and I just get so zoned in and the clicking of the board when you press each button is so satisfying it just makes me happy to hear.”
Leah, who has worked on the other side of the camera, will attend Mary Baldwin University in the fall and study communications.
Leah truly enjoys the technical side of a show.
She says, “My brain likes all these patterns and recognition and going through a schedule and it’s just easy to technical direct especially because you shut your mind off and the director tells you what to do and you just do it.”
Like many other students who go through this program, Leah knows what a sense of accomplishment looks like because she experienced it firsthand.
“There are times when you finish a show as soon as you feel it you know you’ve got the perfect take and you know exactly what take you are going to use and you just feel so accomplished because you’ve done it or you just ran through the entire script without any stops,” says Leah.
McElhaney lends a listening ear and guides students who participate in a variety of productions.
Some of them include the OVAC Queen of Queens, the Tree Gala Preview Show, plenty of football games and Dancing With The Stars that airs on WTRF.
McElhaney’s experience in the field of television and in the classroom over the years has encouraged students.
Leah also says, “She feels more like a coworker than a teacher because she knows what we’re doing. She knows what job does what and how stressful it can be to work in the backroom and different jobs because she’s gone through it before and she was a student before as well.”
Sophomores and Juniors will have the privilege to return next fall to the WJMH studio.
As for the Seniors, their career at WJMH has come to a close and though they will choose different career paths, one phenomenal high school experience they will always have in common is what went on inside the walls of WJMH and the words of wisdom from their teacher who wishes them well.
According to McElhaney, “As a former teacher told me, a former broadcasting teacher told me, the goal is to learn a little bit about broadcasting and a lot about life and so for me if I can take that as my philospohy as well I can pass that onto to them and that’s what I hope they take from the program.”