Lights, camera, action Villanova

Kerry Lester

If you glance at the Princeton Review, U.S. News and World Report, or any other guide that profiles top universities in the country, you’ll see that one of Villanova’s most popular and well-respected majors is communication.

Each year, hundreds of students graduate with a degree that can take them anywhere from anchor on the nightly news to public relations executive.

Over the next two semesters, the communication department is saying, “Out with the old,” as they begin to install $400,000 worth of state-of-the-art television studio equipment. Professors Lee McCarthy, Mark Hauck and Paul Wilson were involved in the project’s initial planning, which took place this past summer.

McCarthy, a former news correspondent for NBC, the New England Bureau and Channel 29, has traveled the globe and worked alongside television pioneers like Walter Cronkite. Since 1997, he has taught broadcast performance classes at Villanova, using the department’s out-of-date studio equipment. When the upgrades were first announced, McCarthy was eager to get the project underway. “I was so excited,” McCarthy said. “I went home and came straight to Villanova.” While McCarthy says he is “not in the technical loop,” Hauck and Wilson spent the summer promoting and demonstrating the capabilities of the system.

The advanced digital technology allows the machinery to be a fraction of the size, as compared to the current studio’s equipment. What previously filled an

entire room can now be contained in the area of a closet.

Time, in terms of broadcasting, directing and producing, is significantly cut as well. “With the old equipment in a broadcast performance class, it would take the full two-and-a-half-hour class period to get through 20 students’ one-minute performances,” McCarthy said. “Now, we’ll be able to get more performances in less time.” McCarthy knows by experience that, “Everything in the business is run by a stopwatch. You have to be ready and able to cut corners in time without cutting corners in quality.” Even though the upgrades are still in their initial stages, McCarthy hopes that the current curriculum could evolve to include a course solely on television and news production.

“This equipment puts us in a position to do anything the University wants us to do,” McCarthy said. “Villanova will be able to combine a trade school and intellectual approach to communication fields. Students can now create tapes with anchoring components on them that look like professional newscasts. They can learn important things like camera turns and posture, which sound easy but must be learned by experience.”