Nathan Stearns heard an old adage that stuck with him as he grew up.
"I was told that if you love your job, you'll never work a day in your life," Stearns said. "I believe I've found my passion with television and radio broadcasting."
Stearns, who graduated from Saline High School in June and who will study broadcasting at Michigan State University, learned he loved broadcasting while at Saline High School. An avid sports fan, he'd thought about a broadcast career, but he also considered communications and public relations. Then he enrolled in Nathan Bush's broadcast video classes, got involved with Hornet Nation, the award-winning student-produced program, and, more recently, began announcing high school sporting events for SalineLive.com. He spent the winter season doing live play-by-play and color analysis for live streams of girls and basketball, swimming and other sports. He continued in the spring, announcing for the girls soccer team, the lacrosse teams and girls water polo team. The more he worked, the more he knew it was the right path.
Stearns enjoyed getting to know the players and coaches, and telling their stories to a live audience.
"It’s something that’s extremely rewarding because you’re the medium, the conduit," Stearns said. "On several occasions, I've had relatives of players stop and thank me for helping them be able to follow a game they couldn't make. To be able to help them be there for son’s or daughter’s or grandchild’s biggest moments is something I take a big pleasure in."
When he begins at Michigan State University later this summer, he'll be entering a very competitive field. And Stearns figures he's got a leg up on the competition.
"The opportunities I’ve had here have given me confidence. I believe I have marketable skills I need to succeed at the next level," Stearns said. "What I’ve been able to do gives me an advantage right off the bat. 99 percent of schools don’t offer opportunities like this."
Stearns notes that Hornet Nation has won the Spartan Award as the best student media show four years running. That, along with his SalineLive.com work, gives him an impressive portfolio. He's worked in front of the cameras, behind the microphone, at the video editing computers.
"We've worked with professional equipment, whether it's Adobe Premiere or the new Panasonic cameras or the tri-caster. So, I don't feel I'll be starting from scratch," Stearns said. "And in this business, if you're able to be a jack of all trades talent, you're going to have an advantage. I feel like I'm on the right path."
Stearns is one of several students paid to work for SalineLive.com, a joint venture of SCTN, the local cable network that broadcasts on Comcast Channel 18, and Saline Community Education.
Nathan Bush, video and photography teacher at Saline High School, said working for SalineLive.com is a great experience for student interested in broadcasting.
" I think this real-world education is invaluable to students who want to go into video in the future. Not many post-secondary programs teach live production techniques. They are usually more geared towards Film. Some do, but it is not the norm," Bush said. "We are trying to offer a variety of opportunities for students to prepare them for the future."
Bush has heard from many students who, like Stearns, leave Saline High School ready for the next step.
"From the feedback I get from former students, they feel very prepared for this industry after the experiences that this live crew offers on top of the curriculum and opportunities afforded by working along with SCTN," Bush said.
After the events -- mostly sports, but there are other events, like graduation -- are live streamed, they are broadcast on SCTN.
Chase Stanton, SCTN station manager, appreciates having hours of sports content to broadcast.
"This has been an amazing resource for SCTN. We're always trying to balance the content we can put out online, which tends to be short and sweet, with content that can fill hours of programming on Channel 18," Stanton said. "I think this also provides a nice variety for someone tuning into SCTN. Especially if you have a family member or know a student playing in the games, it's really cool to get to turn on your tv and see them playing."
This isn't just an internship. The students are paid $9.50 an hour.
" We know students may be able to make a little bit more working somewhere like McDonalds or Tim Hortons, but we think this opportunity provides them with skills they can take with them if they pursue a career in video," Stanton said. "Plus it's just a fun job for them to have."
Thomas Payeur, a rising senior at Saline High School who operates one of the two to four cameras typically set up at an event, is happy to be a camera man for SCTN.
"I remember seeing the advertisement for the live video crew and thinking, 'I just got my license and need a way to put gas in the tank," Payeur said.
So far, the SalineLive.com crew has produced about 50 events. And they enjoyed some great successes. The Saline-Pioneer football game had more than 600 unique viewers watching. The Golden Triangle track meet was viewed by more than 1,000 people over the two-day event.
Bush, Stanton and the team plan to be even busier next year. More events means more planning and more training.
"We realized a lot of things that we need to improve. Next year we are looking at improving the www.salinelive.com experience. We are developing a website that will be a central location for all video content that we produce through our programs . We are also going to add two more training sessions that correspond with the sports seasons - kind of a refresher for the crew to get them up to speed each season. We also have some equipment that needs updating to be more effective," Bush said.
More employees are needed.
Any students interested in working for SalineLive.com next year should get in touch with Bush ( [email protected] ).
"We run a two-day training in the summer. We go over camera setup, broadcast switching, audio, and the general setup of various games. Most of that is covered in the first day, and then we come back for a couple hours on the second day and do a practice shoot. We often try to schedule the training around a football scrimmage, so we can effectively 'scrimmage' ourselves," Bush said.
Payeur encouraged students to join the SalineLive.com team.
“Sign up. This is a great work experience. We’re great people and you’ll make really decent cash working for the video crew,” Payeur said.