Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 5, 2004

Selma Middle CHAT Academy is completing preparations for a launch of its own TV on-campus studio this spring called Studio 78. It is one of only three such public school studios in the state, a fully equipped, state-of-the art studio that is simply a somewhat smaller version of a professional TV studio.

The studio is the end product of a special magnet school grant received in 2001 which enabled, among other things, the addition of an instructional program in TV broadcasting that began in the fall of 2002.

The school hired William T. Bryant as TV production instructor and Joy Chestnut as producer for public access channel shows and as coordinator of promotion and marketing for the Selma City Schools magnet program that currently includes CHAT and the School of Discovery.

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Bryant came to CHAT directly from UAB with a degree in mass communications and a focus in broad-casting. Chestnut, also a graduate of the UAB mass communications program, has a focus in broadcast journalism. Her first job after graduation was as a production assistant at Fox 6 in Birmingham for the morning news program.

Then she served a stint at The Times-Journal before moving on to the faculty of CHAT.

The TV curriculum has two classes – &uot;Broadcast Art,&uot; primarily for seventh graders and taught both terms, and &uot;TV Production,&uot; primarily for eighth graders, which is a full-year course. The two classes together have about 35 students enrolled.

Principal Charlotte Griffeth said that the purpose of the magnet school grant received three years ago was to create a TV studio for students to practice media communication skills, using state-of-the-art technology equipment.

Griffeth said that the equipment is fully digital, which puts it ahead of many TV stations. She said that in the very near future all TV stations will have the equipment and she is proud that CHAT is on the cutting edge.

Earl Coleman, technology coordinator at CHAT, said studio has video editing machines, title makers, a fully functioning

studio lighting system, digital audio/video switching capabilities, teleprompters and two broadcast quality 3CCD cameras.

An agreement with local cable provider Charter Communications is being finalized that will give the CHAT studio a local access channel.

That means that anyone with a cable connection can watch programs aired by Studio 78.

Griffeth said at the beginning there will be two identical 8-hour segments of broadcasting, making for a total of 16 hours of broadcasting each day.

It will be, she said proudly, &uot;Selma Public Access from Studio 78 on the campus of Selma Middle CHAT Academy.&uot;

Also, she said that a licensing agreement is being worked out with the Annenberg CPB channel which will enable Studio 78 to pull a variety of programs off the satellite, including various tutorials, professional development programs for teachers, foreign language instruction, math, science, literature, among others.

Griffeth said that Mayor James Perkins Jr., whose office has been vitally involved in the program since its inception, wants Studio 78 to be a top-quality educational entity in the Selma-Dallas County area.

At the heart of the work of the studio manned by the students will be original programming produced by the students with the help of their teachers.

Griffeth emphasized that the precise shows have not been finalized, nor has the date of the beginning of the program this spring.

Some of the kinds of programs envisioned include: Community Calendar, CHAT News, Selma City Schools Report, Educational Tutorial, Forestry Education, Computer Tutorial, Sports in Area Schools, State of the City, Medical News, City Council Meetings, Arts in Selma, Spotlight on Selmians, Cooking in Selma, Area High School Games, Religious Programming, along with many others.

Dr. James Carter, Selma City Schools superintendent, expressed great excitement about the program.

Griffeth expressed her gratitude to Carter for his leadership in enabling this new project to come into being and for his openness to bringing in cutting-edge programs into the school system.

In some systems, she said, that simply does not happen.