By Beth Byrd, Editor-in-Chief
A broadcasting effort started four years ago on campus by an inexperienced crew of students reached a historical milestone last week.
Union University’s “Jackson 24/7” television news show celebrated its 1,000th episode at 4 p.m. Nov. 28 with an hour-long episode recapping notable moments dating back to its first episode on Oct. 27, 2008.
Steve Beverly, associate professor of communication arts and lead adviser of Jackson 24/7, said his 19 years of experience working in television news helped prepare him to launch a live daily television show – something the Union community had never attempted.
“I think the biggest challenge we had was because we put the show on the air quicker than it should have been,” Beverly said, adding that classes started late that semester, and all of the TV studio’s equipment was still being installed as students prepared to start the show.
After a six-hour equipment seminar from a Boston technician and six weeks of running through scripts, a green group of students — which Beverly says had about a 60 percent grasp of how to use the studio equipment — began broadcasting.
Most other universities would have waited until students were better prepared, Beverly said, adding that starting the broadcast early was a “shot in the arm for morale” for a campus community ravaged by the February 2008 tornado.
“That first year, we were learning on the fly,” Beverly said with a grin.
He added that the show would not exist if not for students being fully committed to the idea.
Dominique Willingham, sophomore broadcast journalism major, said he has worked on Jackson 24/7 since the first semester of his freshman year. He interviewed two Jackson Energy Authority employees during the 1,000th episode.
“When I was little, I used to act like the world was my show,” Willingham said, noting he enjoys entertaining people.
Willingham said his goal after graduation is to host his own television talk show, where he would be the “male version of Oprah and a better version of Ryan Seacrest.”
Willingham said working on Jackson 24-7 is helping him achieve his goal because Beverly not only gives students the chance to be on TV but also works with them to improve their skills.
Jackson 24-7’s crew cover local events and community news of interest to viewers beyond the Union community. The show airs each day at 7 a.m., noon, 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. on EPlusTV Channel 6.