The award-winning student-run station Trojan Vision celebrated its 15th anniversary Saturday with a reception at the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts.
Alumni gathered at the station’s off-campus headquarters to mingle, take tours of the building and see how the channel has evolved since its beginning in 1997.
Executive Director Don Tillman, who has been with the station since the very beginning, said the biggest change he has seen over the years is its constantly growing size.
The station began with only eight students. Now, the station boasts a staff of 250-300 students working on the show and producing content 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
As the station has expanded, so has its audience. According to Tillman, the station reaches at least 29,000 people on both university campuses. In addition, an hour and a half of programming is broadcast daily to the rest of the city on channel LA36, where it reaches more than 1.8 million homes, Tillman said. It also streams 24/7 on the station’s website.
Tillman said one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, aspects of the station is that programs are run exactly like they would be in the real world, giving students the opportunity to act as professionals would in the industry.
“Television operates on time every day come hell or high water, so it’s not something where you can say ‘Oh, I forgot to do my homework so I just won’t go to that class today,’” Tillman said. “Our people have to be here, they have to perform and they have to make it happen every single day.”
Andrea Martinez, a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism, said working for Annenberg TV News has given her an invaluable opportunity to gain real-world experiences in the field she plans on pursuing after graduating.
“I’ve learned so much about how to put on a newscast from the assignment desk to actually being in studio,” Martinez said. “I’ve also had some quite terrifying experiences out in the field. I locked my keys in my trunk twice, have forgotten memory cards, gotten lost and stuck in traffic. It really throws you out there and gives you a feel for what real-life reporting is like.”
The channel features a wide range of programming including entertainment news such as The SCoop, cooking shows such as Delish, game shows such as Mind Games and talk shows that have featured guests such as Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
Arianne Kalra, a sophomore majoring in neuroscience, said the wide variety of programs and guests she has encountered as a director and senior producer has been the most rewarding aspect of her job.
“The best part of my three semesters here has been the tons of interesting people I have been able to meet because of the show,” Kalra said. “They all come from different parts of the industry so it’s really fascinating getting to talk with them.”
Many students also said their involvement with the station has inspired their future career goals. Jonathan Fudem, an undeclared freshman, said his time with Trojan Vision has motivated him to consider pursuing a career related to media.
“It’s a fantastic organization and I really appreciate that they let the young people take charge of things and are open to new innovative suggestions,” Fudem said.