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28 February 2008
Dr. William A. Meehan:
Department of Communications Stays Busy

By Dr. William A. Meehan
President, Jacksonville State University
Weekly Column - The Jacksonville News

Reprinted here in its entirety.

What is the city doing to stop crime? What is in the water you are drinking? Who won the game last night? Wherever you work, study or play, you call Jacksonville home. WJXS TV24, a commercially owned and operated local station, broadcasts the answers to these questions and many more via television and Internet from the campus of Jacksonville State University in Self Hall.

Working closely with TV24, the JSU Television Services Department is involved with all JSU productions such as athletic broadcasts and graduations aired on the station.

Last semester, the hard working staff of TV Services won two Tellys in the 28th annual Telly Awards, a local and regional competition honoring commercials, productions, film and video.

The Telly awards are highly sought after and each year include thousands of entries from all over the world.

The program “Gospel Music Southern Style” won a Silver Telly, the highest award presented by the organization, and the promotional video for JSU’s fund-raising initiative, “The Power of 125, Join the Celebration-A Campaign for Jacksonville State University,” won a Bronze Telly. With the addition of two bronze Tellys garnered in 2005, TV Services has now won four of these distinguished awards.

“The Silver Telly is a huge honor because it is only awarded to a small number of entries and signifies the best of the best,” says Director of Television Services and Engineering Mike Hathcock. “Also, Telly award judges are past winners, which means projects are being judged by peers in the industry.”

Two Department of Communication students were involved in the projects recognized by the Telly Awards. Bobby Mikel, an August 2007 graduate, who is now a full-time TV Services employee, and Johnathon Sikes, a December 2007 graduate, were both student workers for Television services and played major roles in the planning and actual production of the two award-winning projects.

Communication students at JSU are fortunate to have TV24 housed in the same building as their classrooms. The local station becomes a type of classroom, and the directors their real world professors, as student workers are used as often as possible on the production crew for events.

“Working for TV Services or for TV24 provides ‘real world, on-the-job training’ for our students. This definitely gives them an advantage when they graduate and are looking for jobs,” says Hathcock. “TV24 also provides internship opportunities for students and actually employs students on a part time basis.”

Many TV Services workers and communication student workers use the skills they acquire in the department’s hands-on learning experiences to advance in their careers. Several of these students are now doing full-time freelance work on all major networks including ESPN, FOX and CBS.

“One of my former student workers is now considered one of the best EVS (a hard drive-based instant replay system) operators in the country and works major sporting events,” Hathcock says. “Other former students routinely work major network college games around the country.”

One broadcast communication alum is the assistant news director at WBRC Fox 6 in Birmingham and another works as an on-air talent at the same station. Another graduate works as a reporter for a CBS affiliate in Chicago. JSU also has numerous grads that work or have worked with CNN in Atlanta.

The advantages gained for all communication students, including radio, print and web, are immense, as each concentration has a working application: The Chanticleer, the student-run campus newspaper, The Mimosa, the student-made yearbook, WLJS 91.9 FM, the JSU radio station with student-operated shows, and TV24.

The Department of Communication has recently passed the first step in a three-step accreditation process. Thus far, three members of the Accreditation Council of Education have recommended the department for full accreditation. There are more than a dozen communication departments in the state, and the department at JSU looks to become the third accredited.

For more information on the Department of Communication at JSU, visit

Erin Chupp, a graduate assistant in the Office of Marketing and Communications, contributed to this article.

About William A. Meehan

Dr. William A. Meehan is president of Jacksonville State University. His column, "Town & Gown," appears in The Jacksonville News.

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