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Albany Student Television Offers a Lively Education in Broadcasting

the set of ATV 360

From left, UAlbany students Kevin Fox, Suzy Clephane, and Lisa Belli host "ATV 360,"  Albany Student Television's half-hour news and debate show. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

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ALBANY, N.Y. (November 10, 2010) -- What is informative and entertaining, offers practical experience and course credit, and involves more than 200 students?

The answer: Albany Student Television.

Started in 2001, this University at Albany student organization has expanded its membership and increased the number of its on-air programs. Its half-hour news and debate show "ATV 360" (formerly "Wake Up Albany") covers campus news. The organization offers 13 programs on the University's Channel 16, including the comedy program "The Sketchy Characters Show," with 15 to 40 students contributing to the show.

"Without question, ATV is an educational experience," said ATV Director J.B. Biunno, a senior communication major from East Meadow, N.Y., who graduates in December. "You can only learn so much sitting in class."

"When you are holding a microphone, doing something interactive, it livens up the experience," said ATV Associate Director for Public Relations Chris Salley, a sophomore from Staten Island, N.Y., with a double major in psychology and communication.

Biunno recently interviewed broadcasting legend Barbara Walters for ATV when she appeared at UAlbany as part of the World Within Reach Speaker Series.

While some ATV members, like Assistant Director Ivanna "Ivy" Elliott of New City, N.Y., hail from the University's journalism major, communication is also popular. "I started out on "Wake Up, Albany," " said Elliott. "I am now an executive producer and planning a career in broadcast journalism."

ATV student executive producers like Elliott provide training to their crew members in the proper  operation of video and audio equipment. Once crew members gain experience, they are promoted to executive producer positions, and they, in turn, train their new crew members.

"It's all about successorship and because of that, we're completely student-run," said Biunno.

from the set of

From left, UAlbany students Kevin Fox, Suzy Clephane, and Lisa Belli host "ATV 360." According to Albany Student Television (ATV), more than 200 UAlbany students are involved with the shows. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

ATV shows can be viewed on the Web site, and the group said there have been 5,000 hits to date. "We are very proud of our Web site," Salley added.

According to Biunno, students can earn two to three academic credits from the Community and Public Service Program (CPSP) by working for ATV in one of four ways, as:

• a member of ATV's Executive Board;

• an assistant producer;

• a field reporter; or as

• a show anchor on the Broadcast News Program.

The work is "a huge commitment," according to Salley, but one that has resulted in internships and jobs for several ATV alumni.

They include: Tammi Landau and Skip La Russa, who both interned at CBS affiliate Channel 6 this past spring. ATV former Assistant Director (Vice President) Todd Schlegel was recently hired as a producer and video journalist in the sports department of Albany's Fox-23. And UAlbany and ATV alumnus Greg Pollak is the weekend meteorologist for the Fox-affiliated KVRR in Fargo, N.D. Landau, Schlegel and Pollak graduated in Spring 2010. La Russa is studying abroad in Italy and is expected to graduate in May 2011. 

Funded through the Student Association, ATV has a budget of roughly $24,000 and access to the University's Communications and Marketing broadcasting studio in the Lecture Center sub-basement, where the taping is conducted.

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