Prepping Pros

Prepping Pros
Posted on 01/15/2021
JagTV student on set and delivering news

When JagTV began in the 2010-11 school year, instructor Pete Grigsby had a small budget, only a handful of students, but high aspirations. Even though starting from humble beginnings, Grigsby had a plan for his students and the video class he had taken over – they were going to focus on producing news. Now, in its 10th year, the program has grown to include not only JagTV, but also the BSSD Media Network, which includes BSSD Radio & BSSD Television, seen on Comcast Cable channel 15 & AT&T U-verse 99 throughout west-central Missouri.

“We only had three or four students signed up for the class, so I went and recruited a couple of students I knew well from taking my Astronomy/Meteorology class the previous year as juniors,” said Grigsby, who switched from being a fulltime TV Meteorologist to teaching in 2008 (he still works part time at KMBC 9). “They had no idea what the class was, but they trusted me and took it. JagTV was born that year.  I trained the kids on news, how to shoot, write, anchor, etc. They responded, and from there the class and product grew.”

Not only has the program grown, but JagTV graduates are now working in the professional journalism field or excelling at the collegiate level – both in front and behind the camera. In the current JagTV class, 11 students plan to major in some form of broadcast journalism. 

Jessica Canaday was part of the first JagTV class and instantly fell in love with broadcast journalism. After college, she is now a producer for KWCH 12 Eyewitness news, the top station in Wichita, Kansas. Canaday said her experience with JagTV and especially Grigsby’s guidance led her to her current position.

“For the last three years in high school, I spent most of my school days thinking and planning for JagTV and spending my Thursday nights putting together the final product to air on Friday night,” she said. “It was Mr. Grigsby’s encouragement that led me to pursue the field once I graduated, and I will be forever grateful for his guidance.”

Canaday said Grigsby noticed her skillset and was quick to find her role. At KWCH, she chooses, writes and edits content for news programs, works with other producers to assign reporters, observes social media trends, and prioritizes stories. 

“Mr. Grigsby noticed my passion for figuring out what the final product would look like, and putting it all together at the end of the day,” she said. “And that is the great thing about the JagTV program, you have a teacher who’s experienced in the field looking at your strengths, and telling you what careers would fit best in the student’s interests. From a former student that didn’t do too well in other subjects in school, it meant the world to me to have an individual in my desired field tell me that I was a natural, and I could have a future in the field if I kept going for it.” 

JagTV has also benefitted from community involvement, including local business sponsors and area colleges providing opportunities for grads.

“We hit the pavement from the start of the program and found some local businesses that agreed to sponsor and have been great supporters for us,” Grigsby said. “We also have a great relationship with the University of Missouri – which has one of the best journalism programs in the country. They see our kids and we’ve had many of our students go through their program.”

Current JagTV students have had the added experience of producing a news program while dealing with COVID-19 and distance learning. Emily Wilson said the challenges have made her a better journalist. “COVID-19 has been so hard because many of the stories we cover aren’t possible during a pandemic,” she said. “Events look different and some aren’t happening at all. This has forced us to be much more creative and really dig deep to elevate our content. It forced our group to become much closer and work at a faster pace than ever before to get shows out regularly. I’ve been so blessed to work with my classmates because getting to help the new students grow and learn how putting together a show works has been amazing and are memories I’ll never take for granted.”
Senior Isabel Roberts said being a part of JagTV will have her prepared for the next step in her education and career. “JagTV has exposed me to levels of editing and being on camera that I otherwise wouldn’t get to practice. I’ve learned how to adjust to different scenarios when filming stories, how to talk naturally in front of a camera, ways to properly edit videos, and so much more. Going into college I will be prepared to immediately jump into whatever they need me to do.”

EMMY WINNING INSTRUCTION

JagTV instructor Pete Grigsby recently received an Emmy award for his work with KMBC 9 News. He was part of the station’s Live Team Coverage entry for work on tornado coverage last May. It was Grigsby’s first Emmy award.