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Broadcasting Program Shines at STN Convention

Bellmore-Merrick students at convention thumbnail256439

In the early hours of March 18, 32 Bellmore-Merrick Broadcasting (BMB) students, faculty and alumni triumphantly returned home from a 124-hour marathon trip to California for the Student Television Network’s 2024 national Convention.

The Student Television Network (STN) is an international organization of over 600 schools that works to promote scholastic broadcasting, film and television production in high schools and middle schools. The national convention draws together over 3000 representatives from more than two hundred of the schools for a series of timed competitions, professional sessions and awards ceremonies that celebrate the best in student digital storytelling.

The centerpiece of the convention was the opening events called Crazy 8’s where schools compete to create an 8-minute morning show around a given theme in only eight hours. This year’s theme was “It Takes Two.”

Within seconds of the prompt dropping, the 24 Broadcasting students began brainstorming, script writing and cold calling businesses in and around Long Beach California that connected with the topic. Before the first hour had passed Broadcasting students had set up a mobile studio to record the anchor team, our sports reporter and meteorologist. At the same time, remote teams crisscrossed Long Beach reporting on how the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles combine to form the largest port facility in the nation. A second team made their way to a local jeweler to learn more about why rings have become such an important symbol when a couple gets married; both deftly reflecting the theme of “it takes two”.

By the four-hour mark of the competition, the anchors and remote teams had all returned to the Broadcasting program’s makeshift edit room in the corner of a cafe at the Long Beach hotel where they were staying. Teams of Broadcasting editors and graphic artists stitched together the footage that would become the BMB Morning Announcements - Crazy 8’s Edition.

As the eighth hour began, Team BMB was in great shape down to just the finishing touches when disaster struck. With all the pieces of the puzzle on the timeline, the broadcast came in at 8 minutes and 47 seconds.

It was almost 10 percent too long and would result in an automatic disqualification if it was not cut down. With no time to reshoot, when others may have panicked or even quit, team BMB quietly and calmly got to work.

News Director/senior Maya Stone and editor/junior Anthony Ciuffo made strategic cuts to try to get the video under 8 minutes, while maintaining the integrity of the stories being told.

With a small cadre of Broadcasting student producers including juniors Jake Manno, Matthew Natof and Makala Daube looking on and making suggestions, Stone took their ideas and made fast and calculated decisions.

With less than 30 minutes to spare, the cuts were made and BMB effects editor/senior Liam Osborne hopped into the editors chair and attempted to smooth the rough cuts made in the now 7 minute and 49 second video.

With just under 10 minutes to go until the deadline, Stone pressed the upload button to the cheers of the entire Broadcasting team.

All that, and it was just day one of the four-day competition.

Sports director and anchor/senior Tyler Steinberg said he knows how grueling an STN day can be “from the moment the prompt drops you spend every moment of the contest period actively engaged with your mind racing making a thousand decisions at the same time.”

This was Steinberg’s second trip to STN.

“Even just getting a project finished on time is an accomplishment here,” he added. “We’re up against the best of the best from around the country and we’re dealing with real world stories and real-world deadlines.”

On day two of the competition BMB sent out four individual teams out across Long Beach looking for stories to tell in the categories of “News Story,” “Arts & Culture Feature,” “NAT Sound Feature” and “Short Film.”

The BMB short film team tapped BMB slum Andrew Fried (one of two BMB alums on the trip working as mentors and chaperones for the current students) to take on the starring role in their submission entitled “Off the Grid.”

The uniqueness of the opportunity to work with BMB students just a few years younger than he was not lost on Fried, currently a sports media major at West Virginia University.

“I was part of the BMB class that lost STN because of COVID,” he noted. “So this is my first time here and getting to experience it with these kids is fantastic. I feel like they know so much more than we did when we were in BMB just a few years ago. The program has grown so much. I feel like I’m learning as much from them as they are from me.”

At the end of the second day of the competition, STN held their annual Excellence Awards where the organization recognizes schools whose year-round programming achieves a standard of excellence based on a 10-point rubric.

BMB was one of the few schools in the nation to medal in four categories and they placed in each category that they entered earning silver medals for Weekly News Broadcast (BMB Morning Announcements), Best Sports Broadcast (BMB Sports Talk), Best podcast (Sheep on the Meadow) and a bronze medal for Best News Magazine (Midweek Update).

BMB junior Luke Yepez the producer and host of Sheep on the Meadow was excited to receive the recognition.

“This is the first year we even produced the show,” he said. “And to already be seen as doing it so well means we’re clearly on to something. We’re going to make some changes and come back even stronger next year and go for the gold.”

Hannah Broxmeyer, a BMB alum who was working with STN as an intern added that “at school in Ithaca, I’ve already become friends with kids from around the country who I did STN with last year.”

Sunday morning saw that end the convention with the closing ceremonies where awards were given out for the contests held over the weekend.

While the Broadcasting team was a bit down about not taking home a prize for their work that weekend, they knew the real prize was in the work that they completed together.

“We’re not going to let the awards ceremony define us or what we did this week,” Stone explained. “What really matters is we took on seven challenges and we finished all seven on time no matter what got in the way.”

You can view the work created by the BMB-STN team on the March 15 episode of The BMB Morning Announcements and on upcoming episodes of Midweek Update, both award winning shows along with other content can be found on the Bellmore Merrick Broadcasting YouTube page,

The BMB team has already begun preparing for STN 2025 which will be held in Tampa Bay, FL next February 28-March 4.

Click here to view the photo slideshow.

Date Added: 3/20/2024

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