Jeffersonville High in League of its Own with Clear-Com
- 28 May, 2021
USA: Indiana’s Jeffersonville High School is in a league of its own when it comes to broadcast production for WJHI Radio and TV, rivaling even collegiate-level programs offered by universities around the US. Over the last five years the school has worked up to its elite status, constructing a production studio from the ground up, a new football stadium complete with a press box and broadcast booth, as well as the most recent addition of a sprinter van. The goal of these extensive upgrades is to provide students access to industry-standard technology in preparation for careers in broadcast post-graduation, and Clear-Com®’s Encore® Analog Partyline with IFB was included in this goal from the outset.
Design and implementation of the new facilities was overseen by Jeffersonville High School teacher and WJHI Director, Tim Dench, who specified Clear-Com in the planning stages. “I wanted students to interact with gear that’s considered top-notch in the real world, and Clear-Com is ubiquitous in broadcast and was a necessity to have in the new facility,” Dench commented.
WJHI provides coverage of Red Devils live performance events via a local cable channel, on closed-circuit television around the campus, streaming on the IHSAA Champions Network (run by the state’s high school athletics association), and streaming through the school’s FM radio station.
The current program has 75 students who produce eight to nine live productions in a typical school week, rotating in groups of up to 15 team members per broadcast. They rotate across production roles as well to maximize their learning in each position, including running cameras, directing at the front bench, running graphics or replay, even announcing on-air. Nearly all of these roles require the use of Clear-Com equipment.
“Being able to use Clear-Com equipment every day just brings us to the next level and helps us in developing a skill set that will be valuable in college and beyond,” commented WJHI student, Lily Fondrisi. “Overall, my favorite part about being on the broadcast team is that I am building experience that will lead me to more opportunities in broadcast.” Lily has worked as a Sportscaster, Producer and Director for WJHI, and she has used Clear-Com in all her roles, communicating from the main control room to the sports desk, camera operators, replay operators, graphics, and to communicate with talent.
The main control room is a skybox that overlooks the 5,000-seat gymnasium and is next to the 1,000-seat auditorium, and it can connect to the Football Stadium across campus, the TV studio, the radio rooms, Director’s Table, and Sports Desk via the primary intercom system. The system is comprised of a Clear-Com Encore Analog System complete with a four-channel SB-704 Main Station, RS-701 single-channel and RS-702 two-channel beltpacks, CC-300 headsets, and IF4W4 4-wire partyline interface with TR-50 IFB talent receivers and TS-1 talent earphones.
The SB-704 main station is rack-mounted and mobile, so it can be transported to the Football Stadium Press Box and Broadcast Booth or to the new Sprinter van for analog partyline communication as needed.
When COVID restrictions around the nation threatened the return of in-person school and spectator sports, the WJHI program barely skipped a beat. Social distancing, frequent cleaning of equipment, and smart scheduling of students have helped keep WJHI moving during the pandemic.
“High School sports are a staple in Indiana and a pillar of our local community,” explained Tim Dench, “The Red Devils WJHI Radio and TV team has been the eyes and ears of every sporting event since July 2020, despite attendees being unable to support our athletics in-person.”
The training and experience garnered in the broadcast program at Jeffersonville High has already churned out an impressive list of alumni - students have found great success in sports broadcasting careers after being on staff at WJHI, some have even gone on to win national awards and regional Emmys.
“We don’t do video. We do television. That’s what helps us stand out. We do it right, we do it live, and that’s why the intercom is so, so critical,” concluded Dench.
Despite the immense progress that’s already been made, the partyline system is only phase one of Dench’s overall plan for comms - he is already working on the engineering to incorporate Clear-Com IP-based solutions in the near future for phase two.