CSB School Trains Students, Alums for Real Work, Right Now
By Carolyn Braff
Plenty of broadcasting schools train students with all the theory they will need to produce a top-notch sports production, but few give the hands-on training required to actually produce a show. With 26 campuses across the country, all boasting industry-standard TV equipment, the CSB School of Broadcasting prides itself on graduating students ready to begin contributing on their very first day on the job.
“The real need that we fill for the industry is, we graduate students who need very little hand-holding in those vital entry-level positions,” explains Eric Wholley, VP, marketing, for the CSB School. “For those positions like production assistant, where you really need somebody who’s not going to get underfoot and, conversely, who isn’t trying to put a four-year degree in management theory to use, our students fit right in.”
Each of CSB School’s 26 campuses hosts functional TV and radio studios short of the towers so, in addition to getting hands-on training, the students effectively get on-the-job training, working to program those studios.
“We really train for versatility,” Wholley explains. “With such a short program it’s a three-month program core, with extended components on top of that we train you to fit virtually any entry-level role in any entry-level organization. We’ve got people at MLB.com, at old-fashioned radio stations, and everywhere in between.”
The three-phase curriculum generally takes eight to 10 months to complete. Phase 1 is a three-month core of introductory courses in a variety of subjects, including TV packaging, Final Cut Pro, sports broadcasting, studio camera operations, etc. Lessons from those courses are put to use in the CSB TV and radio studios. Phase 2 is a custom practice plan that students create to complement their strengths and improve weaknesses within a chosen area of focus. In Phase 3, students create a résumé and demo reel to send to prospective employers.
Although there is no specific sports track at CSB, Wholley says more than 70% of students come to CSB because they are passionate about sports and a large portion of graduates end up in sports broadcasting.
To ensure that the gear students are learning on is up to date, CSB has a series of national arrangements with equipment and software providers. Among other elements, each station is equipped with Panasonic HD P2 field cameras, Sony studio cameras with Fujinon lenses, Avid, Final Cut Pro, and a full control room with video switcher, character generator, audio mixer, monitors, and teleprompter, the specifics of which vary from campus to campus.
“I was impressed with the facilities that they have and the people teaching there,” says Catherine Lavelle, a 2007 graduate of CSB. “I didn’t know anyplace else where I could learn all that in one place.”
CSB’s instructors are industry professionals who just happen to enjoy teaching.
“One of the things we like to say is, the instructors come from their studios to our studios to teach students the craft of broadcasting,” Wholley says. “We’ve got people with 10, 15, 20 years of production experience who teach our master-control classes. The students are learning from people who work on that exact equipment and do that exact job every day.”
Even after graduation, CSB keeps its studio doors open to alumni, who are welcome to use the campus equipment any time, for free. In this age of constantly changing technology, CSB’s commitment to keep those control rooms stocked with top-of-the-line equipment that offers a boon to any aspiring broadcast professional.
“I’m done with them as far as they’re concerned, but, when I need to use the equipment, they let me, which is really worth its weight in gold,” Lavelle says. “To get that kind of time in that kind of studio to do quality editing would cost me a small fortune, so that access is really invaluable to somebody trying to get started in the industry.”