In 2011, the Comcast Foundation made a commitment to provide $1 million over five years to Philadelphia–based nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the local Latino community.
Our goal was to help strengthen the collective impact of these organizations by increasing technology use among all Latinos and reducing the school dropout rate for Latino youth. Below is a story about the impact of the Foundation’s support to date on one of those organizations.
Arms crossed, high school senior Gracey Guzman stood in the back of the television control room at NBC10 in Philadelphia and watched and nodded, and watched and nodded again. One of the station’s technical directors, wearing a headset and seated in front of her, was giving instructions – "Open mic one…. Ready, green" – to adjust the audio levels to ensure the sound was good for a news segment about to air live.
Gracey wants to study audio engineering when she begins college this fall so she can mix and record songs someday for a music studio. "But I didn’t realize until today," she said, "that I can use the same skills for TV. I’m appreciating that sound is so important here, too."
In early June, Gracey was one of 15 students from Esperanza Academy in North Philadelphia visiting NBC10 and Telemundo62, which are housed under one roof, to learn more about an area they all study – digital communications. In a special afterschool and summer program created through $115,000 in grants from the Comcast Foundation, students, primarily Latino and African American, are trained in media platforms for audio engineering and video editing.
The curriculum includes a four-week, 80-hour summer course, during which Gracey and the other students learned about audio engineering equipment and then broke into pairs to complete original projects. For instance, they drafted concepts and scripts for radio commercials and podcasts, and recorded the related vocal and musical audio, as well as sound effects.
At NBC10 and Telemundo62, they saw how the skills they were gaining could prepare them for careers in broadcasting.
An NBC10 employee shows Esperanza Academy students Werner Paulino and Gracey Guzman a closer look at the station’s digital operations center.
"Oh, this is legit!" squealed Werner Paulino, a junior, as he stepped into the stations’ digital operation center, a room filled with screens that show every remote feed and stationary camera shot outside of the building.
Manned by technicians, it’s the final stop for all remote video and audio before being routed to the control room.
"I’m not 100 percent sure what I’m going to do, so seeing all these professions is really interesting," Werner said.
Near the end of the visit, the students squeezed into the office of NBC10’s vice president of news, Anzio Williams, where he shared that it was a television station tour like theirs years ago that sparked his own interest in a career he still loves every day. "Don’t work a day in your life," he told them. "Love what you do."