Student Television Still Lacks Permanent Studio


The EIC television studio in Walsh Library has been inaccessible to student television members for two years (Ram Archives).

By Hannah Gonzalez

The EIC television studio in Walsh Library has been inaccessible to student television members for two years (Ram Archives).

For years, the student-run program Fordham Nightly News (FNN) operated out of the functioning television studio in the basement of the Walsh Library. The space is outfitted with professional cameras, audio equipment, teleprompters and studio lights. It has graphics and a switch board to change shots.

In fall of 2016, FNN lost access to that studio and, as a consequence, disbanded. However, the Electronic Information Center (EIC) television studio still exists with all its original equipment. Today, instead of using that studio, Fordham Student Television (FSTV) shares a dance studio space in the basement of Keating Hall with various other performance groups.

With the help of the Communications and Media Studies Department (CMS), the student-run television program FSTV was established last spring. However, two years after losing the EIC space, students still lack access to a permanent television studio.

According to Michael Considine, who manages the EIC, the television studio has been inaccessible to FSTV due to the library’s lack of manpower, as well as its outdated technology.

“Much of the equipment in the studio is from the original build in 1999,” said Considine. “In addition to the facility needing extensive and expensive upgrading, we lost a full-time staff position associated with the studio when that job was reassigned to another department several years ago.”

In November of 2016, The Fordham Ram reported similar concerns as to the reason behind FNN’s abrupt loss of access to the studio. Considine explained that the loss of a staff position in April of 2015 made it difficult to support FNN.

Making the EIC studio accessible has not been seen as a priority, according to Considine.

“Unfortunately, the library has not been able to make the studio a technology priority in recent years,” said Considine.

With FSTV’s return, the program is now under the umbrella of the CMS, unlike FNN, which lacked a departmental association. In February of 2018, The Fordham Ram reported that new student television group leaders hoped the closer relationship with CMS would help FSTV avoid the problems that FNN faced.

Gabby Gillespie, FCRH ’19, executive producer of the FSTV show “All in the Ramily,” originally expected this partnership to lead to the restoration of access to the EIC television studio.

“Last year they restarted FSTV, and while they had placed us in Keating, it always seemed like the library studio would be returned at some point, which it has not yet been,” said Gillespie.

Bria McNeal, FCRH ’19, executive producer of FSTV’s “Study Break,” said that FSTV has not received the support it was hoping for from CMS, in terms of access to funding and studio space.

“We don’t really have a strong foundation to lean on, so the club is entirely student run,” said McNeal. “It’s fun for us to have the creative freedom to run it independently, but at the same time we need more help with the administration to get a solid studio space, funding and proper equipment.”

Jacqueline Reich, Ph.D., chair of CMS, declined to comment for this article. However, in February of 2018, she reported that CMS spent $25,000 on new equipment to get FSTV up and running again. This coordination also involved placing the program in the dance studio located in Keating basement.

The limitations of shooting television in a dance studio are numerous, according to McNeal. Because the space must be kept clear for dancing groups, the equipment must held in storage and re-assembled every time FSTV uses it.

“Since it’s a dance studio, we can’t have a set or equipment that’s always set up,” said McNeal. “We have to put the set together and take it down every time we shoot.”

This time-consuming process of moving equipment also carries with it the risk of the equipment being damaged.

“There’s also a higher chance for equipment to get broken or tangled up since it’s constantly being moved around,” she said.

Further, the dance studio cannot offer students proper lighting, professional sets or other technical aspects that a functioning television studio could provide.

“If we had access to the TV studio we would be able to use better equipment and have better sound quality,” said McNeal. “We also wouldn’t run into any of the set problems and have a more professional space that looks better on camera.”

Similarly, Gillespie said that having a television studio of FSTV’s own would elevate the program to a level competitive with highly-ranked communications departments.

“The resource of a studio that is our own would be priceless and make this group so much more legitimate and competitive with comm. schools like BU and Syracuse,” said Gillespie.

Alumni who previously worked on FNN spoke highly of the experience that studio time gave to them, helping to kickstart their careers in television.

Katie Corrado, FCRH ’12, said that the station enabled her to create a demo reel that proved essential to breaking into her career field.

“The station was crucial to my career development,” said Corrado. “Without it, I could not have made the demo reel – my version of a job application – I needed to land my first TV job. Without a demo reel, news directors have no way to see your on-air performance.”

Corrado also emphasized that time in the studio gave her experience that she would not have been able to gain in any other way.

“Sure, you can cobble together a demo reel through internships,” she said. “But it’s not the same as being in a studio, live, at least once a week. That’s what the ‘Fordham Nightly News’ gave to me.”

Alumnus Mack Rosenberg, FCRH ’14, emphasized the role the studio had in not only teaching him the fundamentals of broadcast journalism, but also giving him a home as a commuter on campus.

“When I walked into the FNN studios for the first time, I remember being struck by how professional everything looked, from the cameras to the control room to the main studio,” said Rosenberg. “I honestly felt like it was all too big for me. But FNN became so much more than a broadcast learning ground for me. It became a family of close friends with which I shared so many fun experiences.”

Corrado said she sees the absence of a studio as a detriment not only to the FSTV program, but to the university’s chances of bringing in journalism students.

“For anyone going to Fordham with the hopes of making it as a journalist on TV, you are being sorely shortchanged – especially considering the price of your degree,” said Corrado. “Frankly, as much as I adore Fordham and will sing its praises, if I was exploring college options today and knew Fordham didn’t have a functioning TV studio, I would probably choose to go elsewhere because I wouldn’t have the career I do now without it.”