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APTRA Academy

APTRA Academy

NOTE FROM HAL: Before I write another word, I want to publicly thank each and every one of the truly dedicated mentors that came to APTRA Academy 2002. Volunteers, professional broadcasters from behind and in front of the camera and public information officers from the LA County Fire Department, the LAPD and the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration. We had mentors from all over California -- even from other states! They worked very hard, gave of themselves and I'm proud to count all of them among my friends! Some of the them have even taken the time to share with you some of their thoughts about this year's boot camp for aspiring broadcasters. So here goes...
Sarah Acevedo
KCAL TV & KVEA TV Freelance Reporter
Los Angeles

Man, was it hot! Humid, too. On top of that, the students got heat from the assignment editor (this was mock-real, after all), putting panic on top of pressure. And yet, these students found strength from within themselves to keep their heads cool and do their job! I was very impressed. I could barely keep up! It was also great to meet the new mentors, and catch up with people I hadn't seen in years! Which reminds me, I have a feeling we'll be seeing our students on the air in the not too distant future -- and I'm glad I'll be able to say, "I knew them when.."
Ross Becker
KTNV TV Primary Anchor
Las Vegas

When you are learning how to swim, the first thing you have to do is jump in the pool. At the APTRA Academy Boot Camp for anchors, we pushed the students off the diving board into the deep end. And they responded.

It was intense. We wanted them to feel the tension. They did. I am so impressed with the dedication of these students to our craft and profession.

When I was starting in broadcast journalism, I had several people who took the time to help me. I am proud and grateful I can return the favor.
Rod Bernsen
KTTV TV Helicopter Reporter
Los Angeles

The 2002 APTRA Reporter's Bootcamp was amazing.

The best teacher of all is experience and that is exactly what the students got. A real time scenario complete with fire fighters, water dropping choppers and camp crews along with incredible actors made putting their stories together a real life experience.

I am impressed at the caliber of the students, their dedication and sponge like absorption made being apart of the APTRA Academy more than a pleasure -- it was my privilege
Veronica De La Cruz
KYMA TV Anchor/ Reporter
Yuma, Arizona

Last year I came to APTRA Academy as a student ... and this year a mentor! So for me it was a milestone.

Though I had done a few other things before (I worked as an entertainment and music reporter for an internet company), I have learned so much in the news biz and enjoyed being able to share it with the students I met.

I realize I would never be where I am today without the help of my own mentors, so to be able to turn around and do the same for others was really rewarding. The students in the anchoring academy made me proud!! I also met a lot of new people who made my experience unforgettable.

Hal, please count me in year after year, as this is an event I will always look forward to!

Hector Gonzalez
KMEX TV Photojournalist/Editor
San Diego Bureau

Last year's APTRA's workshop was almost like a religious experience, in which everybody knew that we were in the right place, with the right people, with the right frame of mind. Unfortunately, I couldn't stay to the very end because of the U.S. bombings in Afghanistan.

This year's workshop was even more intense and gratifying, because this time I got to stay to the very end. On my way back to San Diego, I felt so good emotionally and spiritually knowing that I might of helped someone to feel the same passion that I feel for this job that I love.

Gigi Graciette
KCOP TV Freelance Reporter
Los Angeles

APTRA's Bootcamp was great! It provided students with a very realistic (and exhausting) glimpse into a field reporter's day. The storyline was ever changing, as often it does in "real life" and our star PIOs Brian Jordan, Roland Sprewell, Mary Grady and Jose Martinez delivered award-winning performances! Bravo to them and all who acted out the interesting story!

Mary Grady
LAPD Public Information Director
Los Angeles

What a weekend! Even seasoned broadcast veterans would have had trouble keeping up with the pace of breaking news we threw at you during your APTRA Academy weekend.

I was impressed as I watched your eager, YOUNG faces take it all in and then produce good solid stories. Many of you traveled far and went without sleep. That's dedication to your craft. Remember that's the key..craft a compelling, balanced and well told story. It's not about glitz and is all about being a solid journalist.

Sabrina Hughes
KNTV TV Assignment Editor
San Jose, CA.

Several colleagues and friends asked me on why I keep coming back as a mentor for APTRA Academy. My answer: I love it. To watch each one of the students to start as a rookie reporter on Saturday morning and transform into seasoned reporter by Sunday afternoon is amazing. This year's group was the best yet. I have never have been so impressed with a group of individuals. They came to work. Their stories turned out to be some of the best I have seen to come out of the Academy.

My job was to give them a dose of reality as their assignment manager. I treated each student the same way I treat my reporters in my newsroom. I was constantly on them and made sure they were getting their facts into the newsroom. They impressed me every step of the way.

Hal Eisner and the rest of the mentors did a fantastic job and each student walked away with a tape they should be proud to show to anyone. To anyone thinking about doing this next year, student or mentor: DO IT!!! It will be the most rewarding weekend that you will have in a long time

Randy Kerdoon
Former KTTV Sports Anchor
Los Angeles

Police cars with sirens wailing and lights flashing.....and a helicopter flying by dropping water on it's intended target. Gee, sportscaster camp was never like this! My first stint as a mentor for the annual APTRA Academy was an eye opener on many levels. The lengths that Hal Eisner and his staff went to create a realistic story for academy campers was nothing short of amazing. And the quality of the mentors were also first rate. Actual L.A. and former LA news anchors and reporters willing to answer any ...and I mean ANY journalistic question. They provided tips and even manned the cameras in the anchor academy. If only I had a chance like this when I was just starting!! What was great for me as a mentor was watching how the campers improved at the anchor desk with every "broadcast".

It's a great feeling to help others succeed! Now all we need for 2003, is to get the kitchen to stop clearing away the lunches and dinners so quickly!

John Pilios
KGET TV News Director
Bakersfield, CA.

The APTRA Academy was one of the most rewarding things I've experienced in some time. The enthusiasm of the students and the mentors left me with a real positive feeling about the future of our business. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and hope that this type of training spreads throughout the country.

Wes Rodda
KSBY TV Photojournalist/Editor
San Luis Obispo, CA.

I don't think any other program could match what APTRA Academy does for aspiring broadcasters. Even though it's billed as a "simulation" I believe the Academy is as real as it gets. The helicopter, the PIO's, the 'victims', the suspect arrest, firefighters clearing brush and spraying water was VERY cool! I found myself blinking my eyes and saying to myself 'WOW, I can't believe this is happening" (and trying to catch my breath)!

It's amazing that there are fellow professionals out there so willing and dedicated to give people this kind of experience. It was so inspiring to see the participants really take it all in. I can't wait to see what Hal and APTRA are going to cook up for next year!

Phil Shuman
KCOP TV Reporter/Anchor
Los Angeles

I was impressed with how realistic the Academy was and how much the students had to cover and process and deal with. Everyone took it very seriously. The ability to go through that unfolding scenario with working professionals, and then to be able to walk away with a finished tape is so valuable! I'm sure that as the Academy continues year after year more and more news directors around the country will become familiar with it, and that means students who have this on their resume and have this tape will be taken very seriously.

Bob Tarlau
KTTV TV Senior Producer
Los Angeles

Within an hour of arriving for the APTRA 2002 Academy on Saturday morning, two of my fellow mentors had already reminded me "it's payback time." Certainly that was one reason those of us of a certain age agreed to pitch in. Think back. Many people spent many hours with us in the beginning and this was one chance to pass our knowledge and experiences onto a younger generation. We can only hope they will do the same for those who follow. A second reason was the feedback, what I knew I would be learning from the students.

The concept of both the reporting and anchor academies is excellent. Hal Eisner, the academy's dean, and his team who helped bring them off deserve tremendous credit.

It is just amazing how much can get accomplished in two days and one night (a long night). The scenario development and staging provided very realistic pictures and a minimum of file tape was needed to make those packages sing. Graphics, makeup, photography and editing all get very high marks. But the top grades go to the students themselves. The four who joined me and our superb photographer/editor Art Quezada from KMEX were hard charging and enthusiastic about making our end product as complete and polished as possible. They hustled through the day covering the staged news event and doing live shot, then logged, wrote and watched the editing process through the night. Critiques the next day were sharp and on target.

I have to believe the weekend will have sucked some potentially very talented people into our business, while perhaps bringing home some hard realities to those who might not be so sure that broadcast journalism should be their life work. Either way, I am positive the participants got a lot of out of this. But we as mentors did too. If you throw yourself into this, you can't help driving away from Pepperdine's Cottontail Ranch on Sunday afternoon feeling very good: about yourself, the students you worked with, and the future of our business.