Wood Technical Center students get hands-on experience with broadcasting
PARKERSBURG — It’s game night for Lori Ullmann.
Actually she has a lot of game nights.
On this Friday night, however, she walks past Parkersburg Memorial Fieldhouse toward Stadium Field where she has a 6 p.m. check in with the crew of technicians sitting in the CAS Cable television broadcasting control truck sitting between the bleachers and the concessions building.
It’s 90 minutes before kickoff.
Ullmann oversees the student broadcasting program at the Wood County Technical Center, which will do the Woodrow Wilson-Parkersburg High School football game. In the game booth, on the top level of Stadium Field, she is joined by Taylor Miragliotta and soon Kendra Wallace, both are seniors; Miragliotta at Parkersburg High and Wallace at Parkersburg South.
Wallace has a previous school commitment and will arrive late, so Ullmann wears the headset and does the play-by-play until she arrives. Miragliotta is wearing the headset for the first time at a football game in her two years in the program. Ullmann said all eventually wear a headset for games, “but there is a learning curve with this.”
Meanwhile, Miragliotta slowly places the headset over her ears.
“I’m not nervous,” Miragliotta says as she slides down into her seat, “I just have to keep telling myself that. I’m… not… nervous. Yes, I am.”
“Sometimes it comes down to schedules,” said Ullmann, “and sometimes it comes down to extracurricular or knowledge of the sport. I’ve got two in different bands. My sports guy is the South Patriot and I can’t very well have him broadcasting a game when he’s doing his thing on the sidelines.”
Ullmann and Miragliotta begin pre-game preparations, such as checking to see if there are roster number changes and picking up a copy of the pregame introductions of Harold William “Bill” Bell and Charlie Taylor, who are being inducted into the Parkersburg High School Football Hall of Fame. That happens at 20 minutes before game time. Sixty minutes are left on the scoreboard clock.
Ullmann hastens Miragliotta into writing her pregame introduction and what she will say when the broadcast begins.
One floor below, directly underneath the broadcast booth, are two cameras which will be used to provide the pictures. One is manned by CAS technician Keith Leonard. The other is manned by Parkersburg High School student Kiera Mosley.
“It’s all live,” said Leonard. “There is no chance for a re-do. There is no delay. If someone says something bad outside, sorry.”
Ullmann agrees. “It’s a live, learning experience,” she said. “It’s the real deal.”
Ullmann has Miragliotta re-write her game intro. Miragliotta adds more details. Ullmann gives it her OK after a few tweaks.
Students are taught to set up and tear down the cameras. Students with the program learn all aspects of what it takes.
The small cameras are on tripods, placed on the counter. They watch on ‘live-view’ monitors attached to the camera. One is used for a live picture, the other is used to find crowd and sideline cutaways.
“Students in the program start as juniors,” Ullmann said. “We work with camera angles. How to set up the camera, how to tear it down. Then the senior year, they start working with lighting, sound, editing, writing. This program can take them in so many different directions with career choices, it’s very versatile.”
The Big Red band enters the field after the homecoming parade is finished. Pregame performances by the Big Red cheerleaders and Red Wings occur while the Parkersburg inflatable helmet lives up to its name.
Parkersburg captains emerge from the helmet in a fog provided by fire extinguishers. Woodrow Wilson’s captains stand on the other side. Ullmann mentions to Miragliotta with 3:30 to go to gametime, “mark your captains for both teams.”
It’s important information as one of Woodrow’s captains, Micah Hancock, leaves the game with an ankle injury in the first half and doesn’t return.
Meanwhile, Wallace has joined the duo and takes the headset from Ullmann. She is brought up to speed by Ullmann.
“All the students have to know how to research,” said Ullmann. “This is not something where you just sit down behind a mike and start talking. You have to research and have knowledge of the sport, any sport, in order to this right. The research teaches responsibility. I’ve had students sit and have a case of stage fright; can’t say a word. Then I have to take the headset back.”
The Big Reds score early and often against the Flying Eagles in the 34-8 win, including a 27-0 halftime lead. At halftime, Ullmann performs her own coach’s talk as she goes over the good and not so good of the first half. What she wants is more excitement in the voices for big plays, exciting plays, making a difference in the game plays.
She steps back away from the girls as they get ready for the second half.
“Can you believe they called 16 penalties in the first half,” Ullmann says. “Sixteen penalties, no wonder the first half took so long to play. Hopefully that changes in the second half.”
Nope. That wish falls on deaf genie ears.
Parkersburg is penalized for allowing halftime to last too long as homecoming royalty is announced. Then Woodrow Wilson kicks off and is called for being offsides.
Not a second has lapsed off the clock in the second half and two penalties are called. Ullmann rolls her eyes. A facepalm follows and she shakes her head. She looks up, “two penalties and we haven’t played a second. Goodness.”
The finals stats for the penalties: 32 for 294 yards. Eighteen of the penalties are on the Big Reds for 167 yards. Woodrow Wilson has 14 penalties for 127 yards.
The crowd streams out of Stadium Field. The Big Red band performs afterward. Some head home while others go to the homecoming dance. Ullmann wraps up the clean up as cameras and other equipment head to the CAS control trailer.
“At the end of the day, it’s been a new experience for somebody,” she said. “Next week, we see what we learned and what we need to learn.”