Media Scene

WTVI clicks into role as laboratory for students

By Mark Washburn

“Off the Record,” a weekly civic affairs show hosted by Jeff Rivenbark, right, is one of the local productions done at WTVI’s (Channel 42) studios, which will be used as a laboratory for a new media degree available through Central Piedmont Community College.
“Off the Record,” a weekly civic affairs show hosted by Jeff Rivenbark, right, is one of the local productions done at WTVI’s (Channel 42) studios, which will be used as a laboratory for a new media degree available through Central Piedmont Community College. ogaines@charlotteobserver.com

WTVI (Channel 42) was launched as an “educational” station 50 years ago this summer, and educational it is becoming again.

Charlotte’s PBS affiliate, now run by Central Piedmont Community College, will become a laboratory for the college’s new associate degree program launching in August in broadcasting and production technology.

Already used in some of the college’s journalism programs, WTVI’s studios and new classroom space will become home for instruction in courses that include film and video production, news writing, broadcast sales and social media.

“Our main goal is always workforce development,” says Anasa Sinegal, who has joined CPCC as director of the digital media, journalism and communication division.

Charlotte is home to a burgeoning media sector that includes ESPNU, the SEC Network, Fox Sports 1’s University City production house, NASCAR.com and other motor sports media, the Sporting News, Raycom Sports, American City Business Journals as well as local TV and radio stations.

Citing U.S. Department of Labor data, CPCC says there are more than 32,000 media/communication jobs in the region.

Sinegal says demand for social media specialists now comes from every sector of the economy because every successful business communicates on Internet pages.

“This is where things are, this is where the media world is and if we’re talking about our students, their entire world is on their phones now,” Sinegal says. “I foresee this as being the new landscape. It’s intrinsic to what we do as we communicate.”

Channel 17, the college’s channel carried on Time Warner Cable, may become a showcase for entry-level work created by students, she says.

Using WTVI as a lab for students was one of the goals CPCC set when it took over the failing station in 2012 and merged it with Channel 17’s operations.

Students learning game programming skills will be part of the division. Paul Koehnke, CPCC’s central campus dean, says the program has flexibility so students can choose the areas – like TV, film or social media – they want to focus on. Using Channel 42 enhances the program.

“There aren’t too many colleges that have a television station,” Koehnke says. “It provides a great opportunity for work-based learning for students.”

Digital demand has changed the job market, says Alyson Young, co-director of the Charlotte-based Carolina School of Broadcasting, which was founded in 1957 and enrolls more than 80 students annually.

CSB has changed its curriculum to focus on digital media technology because employers want technicians and journalists with digital skills. Increasingly, she says, jobs are opening on the corporate front at places like Bank of America for people with advanced digital communication skills.

Who’s on the move in Charlotte media? Check out Media Movers.

Washburn: 704-358-5007;

Twitter: @WashburnChObs.

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