Calling it “a dream come true”, David Lanys opened the doors of the new College of Sports Media to its first student enrollees, embarking on a comprehensive program of career training for the next generation of sports broadcasting professionals.
Lanys, the President of what’s called the Canada’s first and only diploma granting college focused exclusively on sports broadcasting, said the concept had been in development for nearly four years prior to its launch in Toronto last month. The curriculum includes technical instruction, reporting, writing and announcing for radio, television and new media.
“In our pursuit to open The College of Sports Media there was one constant: it had to be the best on all fronts -the best instructors, equipment, facility and corporate partners. This day marks the fulfillment of our objective and we are pleased to open our doors to showcase our incredible college to the world,” Lanys told an opening day crowd of students, instructors, technicians, media and industry dignitaries.
Well-known broadcaster Jim Van Horne is the College’s Television Program Coordinator. Moderating a panel discussion for the opening ceremonies, Van Horne welcomed Nelson Millman -VP, GM and Program Director, The FAN 590; CBC Sports’ Director of Production Joel Darling; Anthony Cicione -VP of Programming and Production, The Score and XM Canada’s Joe Thistel, Program Director of Sports & Talk
Millman welcomed the highly focused college concept, noting that “not just finding talent, but keeping talent” is a challenge in the industry. Thistel likened the growth of satellite radio to the early days of cable TV, saying “there’s a huge growth potential” and a strong needed for talented radio broadcasters, be it for AM, FM or satellite: “The skills are very interchangeable.”
Cicione added his perspective on new media opportunities, saying that technology allows media to “reach people everywhere, all the time — not just reach them, but touch them” with professional sports coverage. Rights today are all multi-platform, he said of major sports deals and broadcast properties. “There’s full integration across all platforms,” he said.
Millman agreed, but joked that he wished he was Marshall McLuhan in order to understand it all: “Where’s media going tomorrow — I’m too busy with it today!”
It was easy to see how sports broadcasting would keep anyone busy, after seeing the College’s cutting edge media and classroom facilities, on a tour led by Lanys and Radio Coordinator Ray Williams. Williams, formerly sports anchor and reporter for CFRB 1010 and 680 News, is the Radio Program Coordinator.
The facilities include a working television studio, control room, edit suite, radio and voice over booths, as well as meetings rooms, board rooms and reporters’ PC workstations. Live broadcast training demonstrations with on-air hosts and College instructors, such as freelance sports journalist Roger Lajoie and Elliotte Friedman of CBC Sports, were underway, and program intro/extro editing and graphics creation underway in separate suites.
The equipment includes Sony cameras and VTR’s, lighting, monitors, microphones, ClearCom, Marshall and Sony LCD monitors, two Avid nonlinear edit systems and all the necessary peripherals. Field production packages are also available.
For radio courses, there are two booths: one with a single mic, the other with four for roundtable discussions. The audio is routed to the newsroom and the classroom so it can be monitored for instant critiques. For television there is also a classroom (with tape viewing capabilites), and rooms for make-up and hair styling.
Over a year ago, David Lanys approached Toronto-based equipment dealer and systems integrator Videoscope with his plans for the College.
“I knew what I wanted but I’m not a technician,” he said. “I was looking for a company that would understand and recognize my needs and fill in the details. I also wanted one company that would take care of everything, so if there was a problem, there’s one place I can call. I met Gord Haas just over a year ago. He really listened to what I was saying, and never forgot the focus — we needed to get started within our budget and make it work. We laid a foundation for a long-term relationship.”
Haas developed the equipment list and turned the project over to Engineering Manager Lee Burke.
“Videoscope’s service has been very good. I always get a call-back,” Lanys continued. Lee’s been amazing. The installers were nice guys. They just came in and did the job. They were so quiet, they didn’t make a mess — really professional. They were also great at communicating with the other trades, to make the installation go smoothly. When I first met with Gord I told him what I hoped for. It turned out exactly the way I hoped it would.”
All the other instructors are working in the industry, a real plus, as Lanys, himself a former producer and field reporter for The Score, pointed out: “Not only will students will learn from people on the inside what the sports media industry is all about. But by the time they graduate, they will already be well-connected in the industry.”
Learning will be completely practical. “You’re on air the first day you walk in,” Lanys said of the student’s schedule.
The curriculum consists of 33 learning modules in four semesters, plus four weeks practical placement at 40 hours per week. The college’s first class kicks off an intensive 17 months, with graduation in June 2009. A second group of students will start September 2008.
Along with the College’s roster of professional instructors, an industry-connected Advisory Board exists to help steer the College and, hopefully, help place its graduates. On the Board are members of the Opening Day panel, including Millman, Darling, Cicione and Thistel — joined by Deb Sanderson, Vice-President of Broadcast, The Shopping Channel and Director of Live Events, Rogers Sportsnet, and Phil King, President, TSN.
“In recognizing and anticipating current and future trends, the College of Sports Media will change the way students learn, and in doing so change the landscape of the young professional,” King said.