Student broadcasters getting hands-on real-world experience

They sat side by side at courtside to broadcast Dominican basketball games in the Conlan Center this past season, but classmates Brandon Cadiz ’20 and Forrest Hunt ’20 came to Dominican from different directions to achieve their goals.

Brandon transferred from Arizona State University to make his dream happen as a Communication and Media Studies major. Forrest drove over the county line from Santa Rosa for the same major and an opportunity to get on air on Penguin Radio from the get-go.

“It's surreal to be able to call games in your first semester when at most universities you have to wait until your junior year to get any experience whatsoever,” Forrest says. “What we get to do on the air is as close as it gets to the real world. When I was searching for colleges, I couldn't find another school that gave me this type of hands on experience.”

That experience, with the help of Mairi Pileggi, chair of the Communication and Media Studies Department, included a trip to the Pacific West Conference Basketball Championships in Riverside. Forrest and Brandon provided the live play-by-play broadcast over Penguin Radio of the Lady Penguins' 79-72 upset win over California Baptist in the opening game of the tournament on March 1.

Not only were Forrest and Brandon the regular announcers for Penguins’ home basketball games, they also broadcast men’s and women’s soccer matches on campus, as well as volleyball and softball games. Their broadcasting and learning skills widened with live post-game interviews with coaches and broadcasting live and interviewing students, faculty, and staff through coverage of campus events, such as Voter Registration Day, Soul Candy, the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, and the recent launch of The Dominican Beat.

“I believe it is a plus to be able to go to a school as small as Dominican because I don’t have to worry about getting time on air. It’s all about you, and what ideas you have. The professors are there to guide you, and to be supportive, but not to hold your hand. It’s extremely hands-on learning. Coming over to Dominican from Arizona State University made the difference so clear,” says Brandon, who graduated from San Mateo High School.

•    Request information about Dominican’s undergraduate programs.

What helped Brandon is the variety of classroom learning experiences. He benefitted from hearing expert professionals from in and outside the sports world, thanks to the guest speakers Stephenie Hendricks, digital communications instructor, invited to campus. He thrived from field visits and introductions to lead broadcasters Hendricks and Emmy Award-winning announcer Barry Tompkins –DU instructor for a sports broadcasting class -- have organized to Oracle Arena, AT&T Park, and NBC Comcast Sports Bay Area studios. These trips introduced them to  Dominican alums, such as Chris DeMarco, an assistant coach for the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors, and  Katie Batchelder, a producer for San Francisco Giants Productions.

Yet having the experience to work on air and learn from instructors, such as Stuart Horne, an assistant professor and co-founder of Penguin Radio, is what inspires and educates them. They are taught more than talking on the radio. They learn the ropes.

“Being a part of Penguin Radio is so much more than putting on the headset and talking to listeners. You have to know how everything works,” says Forrest, who graduated from Montgomery High School. “You have to know how to run the station, how to turn it on and off, how our signal flow works, how to properly set up and tear down the gear, and most importantly how to think quickly on your feet when something isn't working quite right in the middle of a live broadcast and it's your job to fix it.”

Forrest recalls coming to Dominican on a campus visit day to meet with Horne. He was “terrified” when Horne immediately challenged him by putting him on Penguin Radio. With real time experience, it didn’t take long for Forrest to blossom as a broadcaster.

“All of those hours on the air have given me the confidence to walk into virtually any sport and succeed,” Forrest says. “Being able to broadcast all sports and broaden my horizon for future opportunities is something I don't think I could do at any other school. I'm getting hundreds of hours of experience right now with exactly what I want to pursue in the future. To me, that’s irreplaceable.”


January 24, 2018