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Everywhere But In Front the Camera

Last week, my Capstone class took a tour of Howard’s PBS station WHUT and listened to a presentation by Mr. Fleeks B. Hazel of WAMU Sales Department. I like to think of this as a day of ‘everything in media but what is in front of the camera.’ That is because AT WHUT we learned about everything from production, engineering, programming and facilities management. Mr. Hazel then provided insight on what happens ‘upstairs’ above the newsroom floor, in the sales department, and how they bring in revenue to fund the operational costs of the station. Everything we learned that day, taught us about all the lesser known critical roles that are a part of the success of the station.

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During our tour of WHUT, we were able to see the different studios and control rooms they have on site to produce their content. We were also able to identify small difference in the way content for PBS stations are produced and how content for newscasts. Things like who is in ‘charge’ during taping, during their taping the Director is calling the shots whereas in news the Producer is calling all the shots and the director is just executing their vision. While telling us more about his career journey, Mr. Alex, was able to tell us how learning about everything at the operations of his previous stations from facilities to videography played a role in his success and him landing in his current position.

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Mr. Fleeks B. Hazel shared a variety of insight on the revenue side of the media industry, a lot of which made take a walk over to the dark side (sales) pretty attractive. Some of the things that he mentioned that stood out to me was, ‘Sales is the only place where you can give yourself a raise.’ That stood out to me because essentially the more ads or commercials you sell at a higher rate, the more commission you take home. The (R)^2 or rating and revenue model he presented, helped to put everything in perspective. At times people think a lot of decisions in this industry are made out of emotion or malicious intent, when really everything comes down to two things: are people watching or listening and can we afford to keep this on air? Aside, from all the math involved in sales Mr. Hazel made sales seem like a very lucrative and exciting place to work within the media industry.

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