Broadcasting program recognized nationally

Former student Nick Luttrell jumped in ecstasy in his dorm room as he watched the National Student Production Awards live stream. On Feb. 12, the broadcasting team won the National Emmy for Live Event for their coverage of the Nov. 15, 2019 conference football game against Little Rock Central. 

The 2019-2020 football broadcasting team included senior Samantha Lewandowski, senior Caleb Palfreeman, and former students Graham Smith, Nick Luttrell, Victor Cardoza, and Zach Duplanti. Donald Trucker and Jared Park were commentators and Travis Sherman was the director. 

“I’m really blessed to be a part of a program that is able to have the equipment and capability to be that high level of production,” Lewandowski said. “To win this award gives me a leg up in college and going into the industry because they see that we have that experience. It’s nice to know that our work is being recognized enough.”

Luttrell was in the program from his sophomore year to his senior year. 

“This award means so much to me,” Luttrell said. “Ever since I entered the program I began to learn that basically, the highest award that any high school TV/Film student could receive is a National Emmy. To have finally accomplished that goal is such a cool thing to think about.”

Before moving up to nationals, the broadcasting team had to win the Mid-America Chapter. In this regional competition, the program competed against several other schools in Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, and Arkansas. 

“This is a big deal because this solidifies that they are the number one team in the entire country,” advisor Travis Sherman said. “They were judged completely as part of the United States. They had to go through the Mid-America chapter. They’re judged from there and then nominated to go nationally where they are competing against the entire United States and really good schools. It defines them as the top sports broadcaster in the entire country.”

According to Sherman, the winning students spent upwards of 40 hours a week after school working on broadcasts.

“When we get to this level, especially with football, we’re adding so many different assets to it,” Sherman said, “so many different cameras, instant replay, and graphics and we’re running a video board. There’s a lot of stuff going on and so I treat them as professionals. I push them really hard. I treat them just like I would in my own company. They have to persevere a lot.”

The 2019 conference game against Little Rock Central consisted of an hour-long pregame show, commentators, replays, and side-line reports. 

“I produced and anchored the hour-long pregame show and then during the game, I was the sideline reporter which included a fan interview and a halftime report,” Luttrell said. 

According to Sherman and his students, they are glad their work is being recognized at a national level.

“The behind-the-scenes students part of HBTV are the hidden gems to make our program so great,” Luttrell said.