Mass Media Student Gaining Experience on National Productions
A mass media communication student at Pennsylvania College of Technology has taken full advantage of the unique opportunities northcentral Pennsylvania offers to work on a national "stage" and gain experience that relates to his studies.
Seth H. Heasley, of Montgomery, a sophomore in the mass media communication major, joined ESPN's crew for the Little League Baseball World Series for the second year in August, and then headed to State College to join the crew for the Oct. 13 Penn State-Wisconsin football game, which was televised on ABC. He was also recently on the crew for ESPN and ABC's coverage of the Penn State-Notre Dame and Penn State-Iowa football games in State College on Sept. 8 and Oct. 6.
Between this year's activities and his work with ESPN during the Penn State-Michigan and Penn State-Northwestern football games in the 2006 season, Heasley has logged more than 300 hours with the network, with the possibility for more this season.
"Ultimately I'm a utility technician for them," he said. "Most of my work is the setup and the strike (teardown) of each event. The past two Little League World Series, I've set up the booth that (sportscasters) Gary Thorne, Orel Hershiser, Joe Morgan and Dusty Baker use to commentate the game." He has also set up the commentators' booths at the Nittany Lions' football games.
Heasley sets up lighting, backdrops, cameras, audio and props, as well as the "miles" of cables that connect all the components into a giant mobile network. During games, he either shadows a cameraman or operates a microphone or lighting equipment.
"It's been such an awesome learning experience; I really try to take in as much as I can at each event, especially learning how things are structured and how things are done," he said.
One thing he was surprised to learn was the number of production elements that the large networks contract out to other companies.
"As a mass media major and sports fan, it's encouraging to know that there are more employment opportunities out there than what actually appears to be in televised sports â or at least more companies," Heasley said, adding that he has met camera operators who have started in his position and worked their way up.
He has also rubbed elbows with such sports and sportscasting luminaries as Morgan, Dave Ryan, Erin Andrews, Orestes Destrade, Kerry Collins, Ki-Jana Carter and Lynn Swann, to name a few. More recently, and perhaps more publicly known, he spent most of the Penn State-Notre Dame game standing next to Subway spokesman Jared Fogle.
During this year's Little League World Series, sportscaster Ryan was with Heasley prior to a game when Heasley took a hard blow to the back of the head a wild warm-up throw from a Canadian player.
"He was one of the only people on my crew who saw it and told me he was "impressed' I didn't go down," Heasley said. "I worked through it; it was five minutes before game time and we were already on air. I've seen a few different crew members go down; depending on your job and where you're standing, it can be dangerous. Just ask "JoePa' (Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, whose leg was broken in 2006 when two players collided with him on the sideline)."
Heasley's goal is to earn an associate degree in mass media communication at Penn College, then to pursue a bachelor's degree in technology management.
"I would like to work in sports broadcasting for a time and then perhaps pursue teaching," he said.
Penn College's School of Integrated Studies offers an associate degree in mass media communication, which helps to prepare students for a variety of media production positions. It offers students hands-on writing, production and programming experience at the college's radio station, WPTC-FM, and the media production center, which houses the college's cable channel, PCTV.
For more information about the academic programs offered by the School of Integrated Studies at Penn College, visit on the Web or call (570) 327-4521.