Talent Development Student Media, a student-driven news organization that covers news, sports, entertainment, pop culture and current events at the University of Rhode Island provides a big opportunity for passionate students who want to get involved in media or have talent.
Gerald Williams, the director and founder, Marc Hardge, the executive producer and executive director of TD Student Media and Dana Nugent, the Media Supervisor at URI helped construct TD Student Media.
“I’ll go to my grave saying it wouldn’t have happened without the connection between Dana and Gerald,” said Hardge. “If it wasn’t for Dana Nugent, we wouldn’t be where we are right now. It was two years ago that Gerald thought this up, and it has actually come to fruition to where we are now.”
Williams, the Director of the Talent Development Program, created the idea based on the procedural exit interviews of students graduating from the Talent Development Program.
The Department of Communications sent Talent Development Student Media a grant that allowed them to purchase state-of-the-art equipment including a video camera, a microphone, lights and everything needed to do video production. Hardge, an academic advisor for the Talent Development program, then recruited students who served as consultants, assistants and producers to help during the beginning stages of launching the program.
“We realized it was something that was a tremendous opportunity for people interested in broadcast journalism, media, print journalism, public relations or communication,” said Hardge.
He reached out to one of his advisees, Dimitri Ashby, a sophomore majoring in film and proposed an opportunity he simply could not refuse. Ashby quickly transitioned from a performer for Talent Development Student Media into the producer of the program. Ashby now oversees all of the video shoots, collects and sends footage to editors and constructs the episodes.
Adam Schmuter and Sarah Sulton, seniors majoring in film media and communication studies respectively, play pivotal roles as news anchors for Talent Development Student Media. Schmuter, who currently serves as a producer, was offered a spot on the team by Hardge after providing feedback and assistance during the beginning stages of the program.
“It’s about Talent Development and I’ve come to respect the purpose of the TD Student Media program, which is to lend a voice to the concerns of minority communities which is underrepresented by mainstream media organizations,” said Schmuter.
Schmuter worked with Hardge, Sulton and Ashby three times every week during the beginning stages of the program last year to “get the bare bones” of what they wanted the program to be like.
Segments on the show focus on diversity and include interviews with student athletes, up-and-coming musicians and active members of groups around campus.
“We used to have highlights where we would find students who do music, whether it’d be pop culture artists, musicians, rappers, singers or if they have a special skill set,” said Ashby.
“We had one kid who created Lego sculptures and we put him on the show. It doesn’t have to be TD students;,it is just talent on campus, which is why everyone can get involved. For me as well as other students, this is a great opportunity to get involved with something that you’d actually want to do in the real world.”
The staff films every Monday and Wednesday between 12-4 p.m. in the TV studio in Chaffee Hall and broadcasts on a YouTube channel and URI TV Network.
“Ideally, we would like everyone to have a link to the YouTube channel and be able to watch our shows every week because that’s where media is going right now,” said Hardge. “It gives you hands-on experience doing TV production. Whether it’s in the studio, or on site.”
Students interested in the program could help write articles about the episodes and post things on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
“If there’s nowhere to go and you feel like you can’t find somewhere to fit in, TD Student Media shines light on different things at the University of Rhode Island,” said Ashby. “You could get that opportunity to see and find all the things going on around campus.”
At Talent Development Student Media, there is always a job and an opportunity.