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Media program has stellar reputation

The way to avoid any and all contact with a graduate of Ohio University Southern’s Electronic Media program is simple: Don’t turn on a TV, radio, movie or surf the Internet.

A method to ensure interaction with the aforementioned is attending the second annual Dean’s Gala at 6 p.m. on Saturday in the Mains Rotunda.

This year’s event will celebrate 20 years of OUS electronic media program that was started by professor Dr. Don Moore, who is also the program’s director.

“I started work here 25 years ago doing promotional video-type work and educational videos for the campus,” he said. “We had a distance learning classroom at the time with three cameras in it that linked us to the other three campuses. I was hired to oversee that and then, once we got equipment, we started doing a lot more work.”

Then-Dean Dr. Bill Dingus approached Moore and suggested starting a degree program because Moore “worked so well with the students.” Moore said he established a rapport with many students because the absence of a degree program created lots of interns.

“Bobby Thomas, from Raceland (Ky.), was a student here but transferred to Eastern Kentucky University because we didn’t have the degree program and EKU had it,” Moore said. “He went on to win a Peabody award.”

The George Foster Peabody Awards recognize distinguished and meritorious public service by radio and television stations, networks, producing organizations and individuals. Thomas owns Video Law Services in Jacksonville, Fla.

“People like Bobby and those other guys who were here in the early days were the catalysts for why we needed an electronic media program,” Moore said.

Moore notified Dingus he would help create the program, but on one condition: “We have to have the equipment and facilities for the students to obtain hands-on education because that type of experience and knowledge is vital for this particular degree,” he said.

Moore earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky and admits he received very little hands-on training.

“I had all the book knowledge and theory one could possibly need,” he said. “But I had no hands-on experience. If I hadn’t have worked at WKYT in Lexington I would have been lost when I graduated.”

Dingus agreed to Moore’s condition and 20 years ago the program was approved.

“The first few years we worked with grant money,” Moore said. “We operated on $200,000 from both the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Ohio Department of Education.”

Since its inception the program has done nothing but grow not only in size, but also in reputation. Nearly everything that appears on CBS affiliate WOWK-TV is filmed by OUS electronic media program graduates Ben Moore and Chris Holzapfel. WSAZ-TV also employs several of the program’s graduates in director, photographer and graphics positions. Some of the program’s graduates work in the health care field making promotional, marketing and training videos for hospitals.

“Some of my former students work producing training modules for corporations like Marathon,” Moore said. “There are OUS electronic media graduates working in the film industry both locally and in Los Angeles. We have people at ESPN, the NFL Network and some who do political ads for presidential campaigns.”

One notable graduate of the program is a homegrown product. Dave Roberts, of WKEE 100’s Morning Show with Dave and Jenn, is a Lawrence County native who attended Rock Hill High School.

“I graduated in June of 1998 from the electronic media program,” Roberts said. “It provided me with the necessary tools and knowledge I needed to land my first part-time position with a local radio station two months later.”

Not only does Roberts credit the program for teaching him the basics of the industry, he said he was also was encouraged by his professors.

“Jeff Demas and (Don) Moore made me aware that this is not an easy business to break into, but with real passion, hard work and dedication you can be successful,” he said. “I ended up moving my family to Wichita Falls, Texas, to further my career and accepted a full-time position after working at WKEE part-time for six years. I was blessed to be able to come home to my dream job to do the morning show on my favorite station, KEE 100, in January 2011.”

The Morning Show with Dave and Jenn is one of the higher-rated radio shows in the Tri-State.

Like anything else, Moore said, a large part of the electronic media program’s perseverance is its ability to adapt.

“The biggest change over the program’s 20-year history is that we are no longer just broadcast, we are content providers for TV, the Web, iPhones and all the other ways people get video,” he said. “It’s been a challenge as a program to keep up with the changes and technology but the support this campus puts behind us for equipment, faculty and development has kept us on top of the game especially when compared to some other institutions in the area.”

Roberts received training on the equipment and facilities in the program but also was connected to real-world experience through internships.

“I learned how to assemble a package to send to prospective employers that ultimately led me to my first job,” he said

Moore said people are accustomed to seeing 15 electronic media students at football games on Friday nights, at local basketball tournaments and other events. “Not only are they practicing discipline and showing professionalism,” he said, “they are applying theory learned in the classroom.”

More information about the program is available online at www.southern.ohiou.edu.