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Students gain live news experience through new ‘WV Today’ show; ‘Mountaineer Playbook’ continues

WV Today group photo

The WVU Reed College of Media has added a new public affairs television show to the broadcast news curriculum.

“West Virginia Today” addresses matters of public interest and policy including education, culture and politics. Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs Gina Dahlia, who has led the award-winning “WVU News” team since 2002, first piloted the class in fall 2020 as a special topics class.

“Offering a public affairs show during the pandemic, when issues such as corporate and social responsibility and information dissemination were at the forefront, made it evident that a course such as this one needed to be a part of our curriculum," Dahlia said. "So, this fall, 'West Virginia Today' was launched as one of our capstone courses for broadcast students."

Dahlia co-teaches the course alongside Teaching Assistant Professor Ashton Marra and Associate Professor Lois Raimondo. The student-produced show focuses on gathering and reporting on public affairs issues, while producing feature stories and guest interview segments.

Students spend the first few weeks learning the foundations of live television production before auditioning for roles they maintain for the rest of the semester; roles include reporters, hosts and technical crew. Regardless of their roles, all students report, write, shoot and edit television news stories for the program, which is taped at the WVU Waterfront television studio.

Main anchors for the fall 2022 “West Virginia Today” semester are Bailee Tucker from Fairmont, West Virginia, and Sean McCallister from Belle, West Virginia.

“I'm stoked to be chosen as a main anchor for ‘WV Today,’” Tucker said. “I really wanted to gain more on-camera experience before I graduated and took this course in hopes of getting that experience. As one of the main anchors, I want to represent my class and peers in a positive light.”

“West Virginia Today” airs in Monongalia County on Channel 15 on Sunday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 9 a.m.; Sunday and Monday at 6:30 p.m.; and Wednesday at 6 p.m.

“West Virginia Today” has also partnered with KDKA-TV (CBS) out of Pittsburgh, a top 25 television news market, to stream some shows on KDKA's website on Saturday mornings.

In addition to “West Virginia Today,” the Reed College of Media

A group of students stand around a news desk

offers the “Mountaineer Playbook” capstone course for Sports and Adventure Media majors. Launched in 2021 under the direction of Shott Teaching Assistant Professor and Executive Producer Chuck Scatterday, the show focuses on sports video reporting and production and includes in-the-field reporting, in-the-studio camera operations, live directing and producing to cover all 17 Division I WVU athletic teams.

Main anchors for the fall 2022 semester include Isaiah Zimmerman of Lewisburg, West Virginia, and Ben Machi, of Orlando, Florida.

“Being chosen as a main anchor for ‘Mountaineer Playbook’ truly is an honor,” Machi said. “Throughout my time here at WVU, I’ve been able to gain an incredible amount of experience in radio through U92 and now being able to add on-air TV experience to my resume and reel is something that very few people have coming out of college. Opportunities provided to me through the Reed College have made me an infinitely more attractive job candidate.”

“Mountaineer Playbook” has a working relationship with ESPNU as well as a partnership with WVU Athletics and the Big 12 Conference, including Big 12 Now on ESPN+. Through an agreement between the City of Morgantown and the College of Media, Morgantown residents can watch “Mountaineer Playbook” on Comcast Channel 15 and 1084 on Mondays and Fridays at 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Past episodes of “WV Today” and “Mountaineer Playbook” can be viewed at mediacollegenewscast.wvu.edu/morgantown-today and mediacollegenewscast.wvu.edu/mountaineer-playbook, respectively.

The full list of student assignments for fall 2022 includes:

“WV Today” Newscast

Bailee Tucker – Main anchor - Farimont, WV

Sean McCallister – Main anchor - Belle, WV

Makenna Leisfer – Producer - Pittsburgh, PA

Tolu Olasoji – Assistant Producer - Lagos, Nigeria

Blake Bowers – Director - Bridgeport, WV

“Mountaineer Playbook” Newscast

Isaiah Zimmerman – Main Anchor - Lewisburg, WV

Ben Machi – Main Anchor - Orlando, FL

Natalie Andreyev – Player of the Week Anchor- Gymnastics - Point Pleasant, NJ

Bailee Tucker – Player of the Week Anchor- Volleyball - Fairmont, WV

Chloe Paugh – Producer - Pittsburgh, PA 

Michael Gourley -Assistant Producer - Baltimore, MD

Patrick Strong—Director - Stafford, VA