FORT MILL — If you’re about to watch “The Buzz,” Fort Mill High’s Internet-broadcast TV show, for the first time, be sure to stay tuned through the end. Otherwise, you’ll miss some pretty funny out-takes.
By the time you get there, though, you’ll wonder how anybody who cares about Fort Mill High School gets along without it. The student-produced weekly show provides an entertaining mix of news and features about life in and around FMHS, including sports and other activities, and gives viewers a glimpse into the personalities of school personnel, such as Principal Dee Christopher.
They may be working for grades rather than a salary, but there’s nothing amateurish about this production. The camera work and graphics are slick. Close your eyes for a minute and you hear the confident, well-rehearsed voices of professional broadcasters.
And it’s not gone unnoticed. Under the guidance of teacher Karin McKemey, “The Buzz” has won a pair of Emmy awards, including a first-place for a piece on gun control, and other major honors. The show’s motto is “Bring the Sting.”
However, the show itself isn’t all the students are involved in. Live-streaming home football games as well as other events is giving the crew an on-the-job learning experience.
“We started live-streaming last year and I believe we did three football games, streamed the pep rally, cheer competition, dance competition and really got into our groove in basketball, where we had students do the announcing – color and play-by-play – as well,” McKemey said.
“We are trying to add even more events this year.”
McKemey said it takes between five and seven students to produce a live broadcast and that she’s mostly there for support.
“The kids really do everything,” she said. “I just sit back and watch the magic happen once we are on the air.”
Guiding the live broadcasts is senior Kyle Neill, who McKemey describes as “the best director in the planet.” Handling play-by-play and sideline interviews is senior Jesse Horseman. Reporter Sydney Colucy, also a senior, recently stepped out of usual role on the community beat for “The Buzz” to get behind the camera for a live football broadcast.
Working without a net on a live broadcast may be perilous, but they don’t seem to mind.
“It gives you a little of a rush knowing there’s no second take,” Horseman said.
“You don’t really have time to think of all the kinds of stuff you’re going to do (live),” Colucy said.
But that’s where Neill comes in.
“He’s always barking orders (in the headset): ‘make sure you get that shot of the dance team’ or ‘get that shot of the crowd!’ ” she said.
Both Colucy and Horseman, who looks up to TV broadcast legend Al Michaels, praise Neill’s focus and other directorial skills.
“He gets the job done,” Horseman said.
“He’s very ambitious,” Colucy added.
“I love taking on multiple roles,” said Neill, who is also an on-air personality for “The Buzz.”
“It allows me to be well-rounded, which is critical in this industry. Anchoring comes less natural for me than directing, but I like the challenge. It is much more difficult than most people realize. Being natural and still interesting all under a time limit is quite the task.”
Like Horseman, Neill, whose role models are Scott Pelley from the CBS Evening News and director Stanley Kubrick, said he thrives on the adrenaline of a live broadcast.
“With anything that is shot live it is always difficult to predict what is coming next,” he said.
“In order to follow the ball, or get tears when someone win/loses Homecoming you have to think ahead. Getting it wrong is the worst. My favorite part is the rush of getting a great sequence or predicting what’s going to happen correctly.”
Colucy said she enjoys her role on the show as the community reporter – her favorite story was about the old Fort Mill High School building that is slated for demolition, because of the personal tour she received from Christopher – but her career goal is directing.
“I want to do movie making,” she said, and is hoping to attend Purdue University’s film school next year.
Although she lists Steven Spielberg among her favorite directors and said she was initially inspired to work in film by the first “Twilight” movie, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, Colucy has another role model entirely.
“Ms. McKemey is my role model she pushes everybody to do their best and with me, she’s helped me become more serious about what I want to do,” she said.
Students in McKemey’s TV class are learning a number of skills and disciplines.
“The class actually falls under Career and Technology Education or CaTE class,” she said.
“We do learn all the basics of a journalism program, but the emphasis is on technology. Everything from the editing on FCP and Motion (for graphic animation) to sound and lighting. We use iPads as teleprompters and field monitors. We have RODE iPhone lav mics and utilize the corresponding RODE app to record interviews right on the iPhone as well as a variety of other really handy apps. We use Google hangouts to share story ideas and information with other reporting lab classes around the country (and) Google docs to coordinate scriptwriting and submit show notes.”
That’s not all:
“We use a portable satellite system to live-stream because we don’t have Internet in the press box, so we bounce the signal from the school. We also try and incorporate technology into every show by researching the latest advances and putting a package together and because students/school/teenagers are our demographic, we try and relate it back to something to do with education as well. You name it, we use it,” McKemey said.
To watch “The Buzz” or a live stream of home football games and other events, go to useducationtv.com.