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The Pal-Mac High School is pleased to offer a new opportunity that gives students a real-world sports broadcasting experience.  Learn how the program started, and how it is functioning as a real job for some students, by clicking on this article.

A multi-image graphic of students in the Pal-Mac sports broadcasting program in action.

MARCH 29, 2023— A new program at the Pal-Mac High School puts students in a position to become professional sports broadcasters.

 

You read that right, students now have a hands-on opportunity to chase their dreams.

 

The students self-produce broadcasts of Pal-Mac Red Raider home games across several sports. The multi-camera productions are streamed live and archived on the program’s YouTube page for free. 

 

The program is part of two classes guided by High School Technology teacher Kevin Schlegel. 

 

 

“It’s been pretty cool this year with the amount of interest from the kids and the viewers and our supporters at the school,” Schlegel said.

 

That interest is part of what motivated Schlegel to start the program itself. He launched the broadcasting classes in the  2022-2023 school year after previously operating the school’s morning show, known as “PMTV.”

 

Schlegel said the decision to pivot from the televised morning show to sports broadcasts was a “tough pill to swallow,” but it ultimately came down to the previously mentioned student and viewer interest. 

 

“We had about 200 people tuning into a basketball stream, and we would only have two people all year tuning into the morning show,” Schlegel said. ” It’s kind of an easy pick there.”

 

For context, at the time of the morning show’s end, Schlegel had a small group of students covering a few Pal-Mac games here and there. The group has since covered over 58 games and counting.

 

The broadcasts are modeled after national outlets like ESPN, with live graphics, scoreboards, and play-by-play audio. Producers work behind the scenes to make sure the graphics, audio, and camera shots work together.

 

Broadcasters like Andrew, a freshman, will commentate on the action and even conduct interviews with players in real-time.

Andrew (pictured) in the broadcast booth with Schlegel (right)

 

“It’s a really cool opportunity,” said Andrew. “It’s really under your control, and it’s something you do for yourself and others.”

 

Much like the teams playing on game days, the broadcast teams don’t just show up to work. There’s plenty of planning ahead in the days leading up to the games.

 

“A lot of it is in class,” Dylan, another broadcaster, said. “It’s looking at stats, and  watching other games, and then there’s obviously broadcasting the games.”

 

Dylan said he joined the class to work toward being a broadcaster for a living. 

 

As part of their hours of work, some students in the program are getting paid for their efforts.

 

The broadcasting class is a part of the District’s Student Worker Program, which pays students who put in a certain amount of hours of work within the school. This includes maintenance work, among other roles.

 

This initiative is part of the Board’s ongoing strategic planning and has been established in the District's General Fund.

 

We spoke with Lauren, who operates most of the technical side of the broadcasts. Lauren navigates her broadcast work with another job outside of school, and that’s in addition to being a student. She says while the money is an added benefit, she’s happy to get the experience.

 

“It’s getting that exposure and getting those connections early on,” Lauren said. “ If you’re looking to go into even something like that technology side,  I think just knowing how to handle equipment and having that sense of responsibility is beneficial.”

 

Students sit around a mac desktop computer

Students spending time building graphics

 

Lauren plans to pursue a college degree in communications.

 

Schlegel said the decision to pay some of the students comes from observing the number of hours the teams put in to get the broadcasts up and running. He says students like Lauren have the opportunity to sit down and fit game schedules around their schedules. 

 

“Half the kids in the sports class are athletes, so they’re playing a Spring sport,  and they look at their spring sports schedule and say OK out of the 20-something-odd events, how many events physically can I be there for?” Schlegel said.

 

We spoke with Brennan, a three-sport student-athlete who also splits time as a color commentator. He agrees the preparation takes a lot of time, but it’s worth it for himself and the viewers.

 

“It’s not just us talking about the game,” Brennan said. “We can add in input that makes the game more interesting.”

 

While this effort to improve the overall quality is largely student-led, the broadcast team also learned quite a bit from being around other professional broadcasters.

 

Recently, the program worked with FingerLakes1.com, a local publication, to broadcast certain games. 

 

The quality of the broadcast led FL1 hosts Paul Russo and Jim Sinicropi to call the program “phenomenal.”

 

FingerLakes1 broadcast mentioning the sports program

 

 

Dylan was one of the student broadcasters who worked alongside FL1.

 

“It’s great, I get actual experience for a job I want for the future,” Dylan said.  “It’s really cool to have a job I enjoy and build relationships with people already in the business.”

 

The program may just be in its first year, but Schlegel says it is moving in the “right direction.” Broadcasts typically bring in over 300 viewers and counting, and there are talks of expanding the reach to other social media platforms.

 

The team held “Media Days” with the Red Raider basketball teams, with plans to continue with other teams. Schlegel said the program is also looking into adding improved graphics and replay capabilities to the broadcasts.

 

He mentioned adding independent study benefits to the class could also be a possibility down the line.

 

“As long as we continue to put out that product that we strive for, move over ESPN,  here we come! “Schlegel said.

 

Sports Broadcasting 1 is open to all High School students, regardless of year. A student would then take Sports Broadcasting 2 their next year.

 

 

Broadcast team, including camera workers and computer workers sit in a bleacher together


 

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