BECA: Getting Students Studio-Ready Since 1946
BECA Department prepares students to communicate
March 16, 2006 10:19 PM
Their clunky magnetic tapes have been replaced with digitla video, but after 60 years the Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts department remains focused on preparing students for the real world.
“I think it’s prepared me well,” said Tim Livingston, a 21 year-old graduating senior focusing in radio and television production. “There are so many things you can get out of this department.”
“Things used to be analog, more traditional video and audio tape,” Gonzalez said. “Now things are tapeless.”
The BECA buzz has increased noticably, Gonzalez said. It is not surprising, since many graduates of the SF State BECA program have moved on to rewarding careers. The broadcast journalism program keeps a map in its newsroom marked with the places where BECA alumni have obtained jobs in broadcasting.
“We have a pretty good success rate,” said Gonzalez.
The BECA department produces three television broadcasts per week: the news show “State of Events,” the variety show “Studio 1,” and “College Sports Review.” The broadcasts are produced “live to tape,” meaning they are recorded prior to broadcast, but there are no edits or second takes.
Students working on the programs learn to fill every role, from operating the TelePrompTer to sitting behind the anchor desk. BECA students also do a live radio broadcast on KSFS. The TV programs can be viewed weekends on Comcast cable channel 27 at 11 a.m. The radio shows can be heard online at ksfs.sfsu.edu.
Gonzalez said the productions are part of the department’s objective to help students develop practical skills while building a portfolio.
Senior Wendy Poon, 22, was accepted to UC Santa Barbara to study broadcast journalism but advisors there recommended SF State, citing the BECA department’s reputation. Poon admits she was reluctant to choose a CSU over a UC, but now she’s confident she made the right decision.
“This program is amazing,” she said. “Everything here is hands-on.”
Poon said BECA’s practical approach is what sets it aside from broadcasting programs at UCs.
“Here, you do the job in school that you’re going to be doing when you graduate,” said Karli Bulnes, a 25 year-old BECA graduate student with a history degree from UCLA.
Bulnes said she is pursuing her master's in broadcast journalism because she heard so many good things about the BECA department. She said its strength lies with knowledgeable professors and the vast training students receive.
“Everyone can do everything,” she said.
Phil Kipper, the BECA department chair, said the BECA program aims to equip its students with a diverse education that combines theory with technical training.
“A good part of every student’s curriculum should be a combination of theory and practice,” Kipper said, adding that students learn all aspects of the field before choosing which avenue to pursue.
While students in the BECA program are impressed with their professors and the department’s approach to teaching, many feel the equipment in the department could use an overhaul.
“I definitely think the school could put more money into the department,” said Jennifer Solis, a 21 year-old senior BECA major, specifically audio production.
Solis said a surge protector in one of the radio studios recently “blew up,” rendering the whole studio powerless. She said the last time she checked, the overloaded plug had not yet been replaced.
“Definitely the equipment is pretty old,” said 21 year-old senior Anne Arcelo. “It needs upgrading.”
Kipper acknowledges that age and heavy use has taken its toll on much of the equipment in the department, and said they plan to replace some of the older, worn-out items. Still, he said, the BECA department at SF State has excellent equipment for an educational institution, even exceeding that of some professional studios.
“Students don’t realize that we have the same equipment as a top 50 broadcast station,” said technical supervisor Adam Schmidt. “Maybe not a top five station, but a top 50.”
Schmidt, who oversees the technical production for all BECA broadcasts, feels that students should be less concerned with the equipment and more concerned with producing quality work with the tools provided.
“I’d love to see more creative work come out of this department,” Schmidt said. “I prefer students to concentrate on what we have.”
But according th Schmidt, dealing with technical difficulties in school will help students better prepare for their future careers in the real world.
“Great problem solving skills are key to being a good BECA student,” Schmidt said.
Kipper said the department strives to teach students the importance ethics and using their skills to help their communities, citing a joint project this semester between BECA students and Mayor Gavin Newsom's office to produce public service announcements about Project Homeless Connect. Kipper said BECA students also travelled to Brazil and Peru to produce documentaries about impoverished people in the region.
“The main thing is to understand that mass communication is incredibly powerful,” Kipper said. “We want our students to think about ethical conduct and the responsibility to serve the public.”
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