June 12, 2003
Some may be future sports anchors on television. Others could be radio play-by-play personalities. But they were all on Tennessee's campus last week for the same reason - to improve their broadcasting skills.
The fourth annual Big Orange Broadcasting Camp kicked off last week as 13 individuals flocked to Knoxville to hone their technique behind the mic and find out if a broadcasting career is what's in store for them. "Our main goal is basically to give young people a taste of what it's like to be broadcasters," says Bob Kesling, camp director and Tennessee's Director of Broadcasting.
The camp, which was held Sunday through Friday, was packed full of events throughout the week. The students went through an intense schedule of conducting stand-ups, play-by-play, set pieces and final projects. Students were served breakfast at 7 a.m., attended their first lecture around 9 and remained busy until 8 p.m. each day. "We keep them going," Kesling says. "We try and touch a little bit of everything."
Each student learned to do play-by-play announcing for baseball, basketball and football. Students also gained experience working as a television anchor in a studio, as well as producing and editing television packages. Students conducted basketball stand-ups as if they were opening last year's Tennessee-Florida basketball game on television. They attended a Tennessee Smokies baseball game to do play-by-play. And they reported as if they were working last year's Tennessee-Arkansas football game. The students also worked on studio set pieces and assembled a final project to be reviewed prior to their Friday dismissal at noon.
Along with the hands-on work, campers were treated to lectures from nationally known sports broadcasters such as Bob Rathbun from the Turner Sports, Larry Conley from ESPN and Jefferson Pilot, Tom Hart from the Tennessee Smokies, David Steele from the Orlando Magic and Mike Keith from the Tennessee Titans.
Camp counselors assisted Kesling by handling the odds and ends of running the show and serving as an extended arm for the camp's director. The counselors picked up guests at the airport, assisted with check-in, served as dorm supervision and took care of notes. "We don't teach the camp, but we make sure everything goes smoothly so that Bob and his guests can teach the camp and teach it well," says sophomore Chip Kain.
Kain attended the camp in 2001 and is now serving as a broadcasting intern in the Athletics Department. "For me, the camp was very helpful," says Kain, who spent last year as the Tennessee baseball team's public address announcer. "I improved my skills and I learned things that I never thought of while I was just trying to do it on my own."
Senior Kassidie Blackstock is also a broadcasting intern and is in her second year as a camp counselor. Last year, Blackstock served as a dorm supervisor for the female students. Senior Kyle Payne is the other male camp counselor and is the only student to participate in all four B.O.B. Camps. Payne is a student assistant with video productions on campus.
Students must be age 15 or older, but there's no maximum age limit. This year's oldest participant is 35, but the age range has extended all the way to 50 in the past. "I think that's something good about the camp," Blackstock says. "It's not like football camp where you have to be in tip-top shape and ready to go. This is something you can start later in life. And it will really let you know if this is what you want to do."
This year's Big Orange Broadcasting Camp had only 13 students due to facility space. Participants came from Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, New York and Virginia. In the past, the camp has been open to as many as 25 and students have traveled from as far as Canada to attend. The B.O.B. Camp costs $895, but the expenses cover a week's worth of food and housing, videotapes, transportation and facilities - not to mention the priceless experience and knowledge gained from national broadcasters.
Proceeds from the B.O.B. Camp go to the John Ward Scholarship Fund to assist a broadcasting student at the University of Tennessee. "I've never looked at it as being a moneymaker," Kesling says. "Broadcasting has done a lot for me and my life and I'm trying to give something back. This is one way to do that."