By Matt Hose
Local news station KGTV has donated a new production set worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to USDtv, helping to grow the role of student media on campus.
The studio set first came onto USD’s radar when Gina Lew, a professor of communication studies and a former news anchor at Channel 8 news in San Diego, took her advanced journalism class to visit to see a live news broadcast at KGTV Channel 10. While talking with her friend Steve Atkinson, the current co-anchor of the station, she discovered that the station was building a new, state-of-the-art studio set and was planning to donate the old one.
Atkinson told her that KGTV had decided to give the old set to San Diego State University, the alma mater of investigative producer J.W. August. Lew immediately contacted August, with whom she had previous professional experience.
She lobbied for the studio set to come to USD, arguing that SDSU already had the necessary equipment to produce a quality broadcast while USD was severely under-equipped.
For the next several months, she persistently followed up with several staff members of KGTV until they pledged to donate the set – originally valued at around $350,000 – to USD.
Atkinson said that the decision to give it to USD made sense when Lew approached him.
“I couldn’t think of a better place for this set to go,” Atkinson said. “I’ve had the pleasure of being able to speak to some of Professor Lew’s classes and I knew what you guys were up against. You had a tremendous professor, a tremendous program, but you just didn’t have the set.”
At the reception banquet for the studio set, Noelle Norton, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, praised the tenacity and spirit of Lew in securing the donation.
The studio set includes separate anchor, weather, sports and interview sets, each outfitted to the professional standards of a live news broadcast.
With the knowledge that the university was soon to receive this donation, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of Student Affairs made a joint effort to outfit the new studio set with new equipment. This included new cameras and lights, as well as a production control room, which would enable USD TV to produce and edit videos all from within their new center in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice.
For Andrew Tripodi, one of the main anchors of USD TV, the set and studio are much more than just a physical addition to the organization. He looked back on his freshman year at USD when he first started working with USD TV.
“I was an anchor and we started on a folding table,” Tripodi said. “It was terrible, but it was fun to still be part of. And now we have three cameras and an amazing studio. It’s a great opportunity to sort of enter that professional world.”
President Mary Lyons, who delivered a speech in commemoration of the donation, agreed with Tripodi’s sentiment. The set will allow students to “channel their dreams and their successes into career paths [by] doing work that real pros do,” Lyons said.
Atkinson remembered his time in front of the camera as the most important time of his college career. He said the feeling of being on a professional set, along with the practice of being in front of a camera over and over again are some of the most important parts of a college student’s preparation to enter a career in his field.
For sports anchor Camden Wicker, the studio represents an important step in establishing the legitimacy of USD TV. He said that last year all three of the anchors had to sit side by side, but now he will have his own sports desk. He also said that he will now have staff and writers working underneath him, improving quality of content and decreasing the workload for the anchors. As for the set itself, he said that it will add a much more professional feel to the content that USD TV produces.