By Zachary Horner, The Sanford Herald.
SANFORD - When Bill Freeman was growing up, his father worked in audio/visual at Fort Bragg. Oftentimes his father would bring home a then-state-of-the-art projector, which would allow Freeman and his friends to watch movies at home. That was a revolutionary idea then.
"Our house was the cool house in the neighborhood because we could watch movies in the house," he said.
"I grew up with that kind of technology and fell in love with playing with that sort of stuff. I'm kind of geeky that way. I love toys."
Freeman grew up doing audio engineering and ended up at Central Carolina Community College as an instructor after years working in theater and radio. He currently works as the Director of Media Technologies, overseeing CCCC's two radio stations and television channels.
Freeman spoke with The Sanford Herald about his daily routine, what CCCC's radio stations accomplish and how the program keeps up with ever-changing technology.
What are your responsibilities?
It's kind of split because I'm half-administrator, half-teacher. I run curriculum but then we also run stations. We have two FM stations, which is WDCC here, 90.5 (FM), and then WUAW is down in Lillington, and the tower transmitter is over at Triton High School. And then we have 4CNC, which is television, a cable channel, and then we also run Lee County Government cable channel. We also have curriculum for broadcasting and then I also oversee the curriculum for Library Information Technology. I have multiple hats that I wear.
What is your daily routine?
I get here at 6:55 in the morning and get the weather forecast from TV 17 (WNCN in Raleigh). The meteorologists send us weather in an email, and then I edit that, get it into our system so that it airs every morning at the bottom of the hour. After that, it's checking emails and responding to emails, the routine that so many people have now.
We've got a Facebook page for the radio station and a Facebook page for the department and a Facebook page for the TV channel. I'm usually trying to scour Facebook to see if there's anything interesting at all that would work on those platforms. Anything that's fun or funny or related to music or technology.
There's a lot to juggle. ...
How does the radio station and curriculum work?
The college radio station is non-commercial, educational, which obviously means we don't play any commercials. We're funded by the college. We can't sell any commercials but we can do underwriting.
As far as the format we follow, what's typically thought of as a college alternative, very interesting and eclectic mix of music from Medeski, Martin & Wood to Lord only knows what else. We started that way when I took over 20 years ago, but then students were, "We're not into that." Our students were more into that pop stuff. Then we shifted and moved into a more commercial style, with hip-hop, rap, R&B, country, rock. It's like your iPod on shuffle, unless you have eclectic taste. We are training students to be on commercial stations, so it makes sense for us to play more of a commercial format. So we changed about 15 years ago.
The students, they're here for one semester of training, here's how you do it. Second semester is now do it. Then they're done with the radio/audio portion and they can elect to either take the video portion with a very similar approach. Put them both together and we have a two-year associate's degree.
What's one key to working in broadcast that you teach students?
You're a glorified salesperson. It's all about the money. Seriously. That's what I tell them. If you can't figure out why somebody, why that station did this, why they put that story on, follow the money. Honestly. If you're on the air, how are you going to be a valuable employee? If you're in production, what are you going to be doing that's valuable to your company or your clients? You're serving your audience, which is sort of your client base.
How has the program adjusted to growing and improving technology?
When I got here there was a computer in a box over here in the corner. So you get that up and running from scratch, like what software do you use, what are stations using. So that's really what I look to, the commercial industry, to see what software are you using to either edit with or run your radio stations. And for TV, it's the same way.
It's difficult to keep up with the technology on the video side because that changes at a little bit faster pace than audio does, and the expense is certainly much greater. When we left videotape to move into HD, we had to get everything out of the studio. You couldn't just go buy a camera. Now you've got to buy five cameras for students to go out and use. And oh, we've got to change studio cameras to HD. Fortunately the college lets us spend money, which helps us keep up.
Why is Broadcast Production Technology an important program to have?
Some people come to us because they love music, and some people from the video standpoint want to learn how to shoot and edit stuff. As I tell students, even if you're not interested in what we typically think of as broadcasting, somebody's got to create content that's going to get consumed in media somehow. Stuff that's on the internet, somebody still had to either video it or audio record it in some way, hopefully edit it and package it in some way that's pleasing to the public. Even if broadcast goes away as we think of it, that we don't have a station with a transmitter and a tower anymore, it's still going to go out over the internet some way somehow. Somebody's got to be the producing end of that.
Look at all the shows that are on Netflix now. They're not on cable, they're not broadcast, and they're making it just fine. That's kind of exciting to me. A student can come in here to me with a really cool idea and I say, "Go for it."
Matt Monarca, The Sanford Herald. Bill Freeman, left, the director of-media technologies at Central Carolina Community College in Sanford, chats with Harrison Riddle, 16, Monday morning during Riddle's time on air at the college's radio station. Freeman oversees operations at CCCC's two radio stations and two television channels.