Students launch news broadcast 'Lopes Lately'

News anchors Andrea Turisk (left) and Sierra Naess recently taped the Future Broadcasters Club’s first "Lopes Lately" newscast at the Lopes Broadcast Lab.

Photos by Ralph Freso

Michelle Fortin, a Grand Canyon University communications instructor, stood in the back of the Lopes Broadcast Lab as a cast of a dozen students scurried to prepare their first news broadcast, called “Lopes Lately.”

“This is all them, they took it on themselves,” said Fortin, as the College of Humanities and Social Sciences program is still ramping up its resources toward a new broadcast major for next year. “The kids will be graduating next semester and need tapes for their resumes to get jobs. As a professor, this gives me goosebumps – the fact they take the time to invest in themselves and show such dedication.”

Fortin and Barry Buetel, Executive Director of Broadcast and Lopes Broadcast Lab, manage the Future Broadcasters Club’s production, which on a recent day recorded its first monthly broadcast, posted here.

But it was all student Madi Hart’s show. She is the executive producer and was direct with anchors Andrea Turisk and Sierra Naess:

“If you think you are talking too slow, you are not. ...

“I’m excited, let’s get this rolling, team!”

Naess asked where to put her hands.

Turisk asked if her hands looked dry.

Naess asked if she should take off her rings.

“3-2-1 ACTION!”

News anchors Andrea Turisk (left) and Sierra Naess got the feel of working in front of the camera.

And they were off — talking into the camera in a studio within the lab that opened last year, which helped broadcast and new media students gain experience. FOX 10 in Phoenix recently donated an anchor desk. Studio lights and microphones and a control room were added. But a laptop sat atop a trash can, a makeshift teleprompter. Buetel said as they ramp up for next year, some new equipment, such as a teleprompter, will arrive soon.

With a professional sports background and the TV voice of GCU men’s basketball, Buetel says that some students have the “chops” to work in the industry after watching their comfort in front of the camera on this day and watching clips of “stand-ups” – reporters talking to the camera while reporting in the field.

The show was a fast-paced 11 ½ minutes of material, from reporting on campus happenings, such as a fashion show and Family Weekend, to reports on clubs, sports, upcoming events – even popular fall drinks at campus coffee shop GCBC.

Students in the club did all the reporting, filming, writing, editing, producing.

Michelle Fortin reviews footage of a report with students John Snyder, Madi Hart and Fatima Avalos preparing for "Lopes Lately."

“The goal of the club is to show people we are serious about this and that GCU has the people who want to be in broadcasting,” said Noah Losing, the club’s president. He reported a story on an upcoming Thunderground Halloween event. “The first time I stepped into a production studio I was blown away. I love the sense of urgency.”

Speaking of urgency ... here’s producer Hart again:

“Couple things. Both of you. Loosen up. Have fun. Shake it out.

“Great job talking. But now it’s too slow.”

“It’s 3 p.m. We gotta keep going. Not to pressure, but we gotta keep going, we don’t have a lot of time.”

Fortin and Buetel thought it was key to give students a 5 p.m. deadline because it’s a deadline business. “At FOX, they saw the immediacy, ‘5-4-3-2-1 and we’re live,’” Buetel said.

“We could sit here and edit this for a week and it’s not going to be perfect,” added Fortin, who hopes by next semester to increase the show to twice monthly, then weekly next year. “The main thing is repetition. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but next time it has to be a little better.”

Parker Hovila

So Ashlee Sprag was writing and editing scripts on the fly, literally carrying her laptop while walking: “When we toured FOX 10 we learned it is just like a cadence, it is just like music. You can start to feel it when you are writing it.”

Johnny Fuentes did all the editing, Kiana Jaber-Ansari killed her stand-up spot from the fashion shot, and a mustachioed, suited Parker Hovila, a club hockey announcer, pulled off an energetic sports report after Buetel told him to loosen up and have a little more fun.

The anchors knew how to have fun. Naess and Turisk, who filled in for Conrad Meza after the staff was picked with help from local industry experts, were part of a 2 ½-hour pitch meeting for reporters to get their stories aired.

"Lopes Lately" Executive Producer Madi Hart and GCU Executive Director of Broadcast Barry Buetel (back) watch from the control room with engineer Johnny Fuentes and production assistant Jodi Corrales.

Hart:

“One more time. Try to not look terrified.”

“I’ve never had a problem speaking with people,” she said later. “That is a strong suit. I like it and do it well – if you work with people with kindness.”

Indeed, the anchors aren’t offended.

“It’s important to remember we are beginners and have fun at the beginning of your career,” Turisk said. “I don’t want to start off rocky. I want to start off fun and be able to make mistakes.”

Naess said it helps being extroverted, comfortable with the camera and a social person.

“It’s kind of like dress up,” she said, before having fun with anchor stereotypes. “I feel like Barbie.”

Turisk: “I feel like Broadcast Barbie right now.”

Naess: “A big message of Barbie is that Barbie is more than a pretty face.”

It’s a bit of a performance, the students agreed. But it’s also an important task, informing people, telling their stories.

And we’re rolling with Hart again.

“Shake it out. It’s like you're reading a warning that the U.S government has shut down.

“But you’re doing great.

“We’re setting up for the next shot.”

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected]

***

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