Editor’s Note:    Santa Ana College has been quietly turning out world class TV journalists and technicians for almost a quarter century. 

It has a weekly, all student (on screen and control room) live-to-tape broadcast in both English and Spanish that is, well, professional quality.  Many of them can move directly into a small broadcast studio or corporate environment and be immediately productive.  The next few paragraphs, provided by the Chair of the TV/Video Department, Terry Bales, will give you some idea of their program, followed by an interview with Terry who has taught over 20,000 students in his 40 years at Santa Ana.

We first created our TV/Video Dept. and SAC-TV when Santa Ana College formed a partnership with the local cable company (originally Group W) and the City of Santa Ana in 1983.  The college agreed to provide Public Access program training for a city-wide cable channel in return for production equipment and a TV studio that was originally housed at the college's Continuing Education Center at Centennial Park in Santa Ana.  This allowed the school to develop the TV/Video Communications Dept. to train students.

From that humble beginning we have grown to create AA degrees in TV/Digital Video Production, Broadcast News, Scriptwriting, and Computer Graphics for TV and Film.  We offer more than 20 total courses to train students to find careers in TV, film, radio, the internet, advertising, and corporate/industrial productions.  Over 500 students are enrolled each semester in our vocational and general education courses at SAC, our sister college Santiago Canyon College (SCC), and at our production facilities at the Digital Media Center in Santa Ana.

We moved to the DMC studios at 1300 S. Bristol St. in Santa Ana from Centennial Park in 2006 thanks to Measure E bond funding and government grants to secure new digital production equipment and more studio space.

More than 500 alumni of our department have found full-time careers in the media.  Our most famous alumni include comedy star Will Ferrell, KTLA weather and traffic anchor Vera Jimenez, PBS parenting show host Elizabeth Sanchez, TMZ.com producer and reporter Dax Holt, New York City Univision sportscaster Linzy Casinelli, KCAL helicopter reporter/photojournalists Gil Leyvas and Eliana Moreno, KTLA morning news show producer Laura Rodriguez, and Fox Sports International producers Joe Rodriguez and Luis Sanchez.

SAC-TV has produced the first and longest-running local student newscast called "Around and About Orange County (AAOC)" which has aired continuously since April, 1984.  And we pioneered the first national Spanish-language student news show "Noticiero Latino del Condado de Orange (NLCO)" starting in 1995.  The news shows air weekly on Time Warner Cable stations throughout Orange County and can also be viewed on Facebook. We also produce student talk shows and movie projects.  

Interview with Terry Bales

OCS:    As a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of USC, you could have probably opened the doors to more traditional jobs in journalism (newspapers, television, or magazines).  What made you choose to teach others, which you’ve been doing since 1971?  
Terry:    I always liked to write and tell stories so I began as a journalist when I was about 13 writing up sports coverage of Little League, Pony League, and American Legion baseball games for the local paper in Ontario.  This was my first job and it paid a whopping 25 cents an inch so you can bet by the time I was in high school and covering all sports I wrote long stories.  Fortunately for me they let me cover all the games of my high school Upland and they ran 50 or more inches per story several times a week!!!  That led to a contest where I won a full-ride scholarship to USC thanks to the William Randolph Hearst Foundation so I was off and running as a Journalism major there.

OCS:    You also had a career as a journalist.  How did that work?
Terry:    Actually I did work full-time as a reporter for United Press International as a senior at USC, covering everything from the riots of the 1960s to the first Super Bowl game at the Coliseum.  I also had been Sports Editor of the Daily Trojan plus a play-by-play sportscaster for KUSC.  When I won a Government Fellowship for grad school at USC I began what was to be a 35-year career covering local sports for UPI and then later in the 1990s for ESPN/Sportsticker on the internet.  So really I was an almost full-time reporter when I began teaching full-time as well.  I generally worked seven days a week between the two jobs since I could pick and choose which professional and college games I wanted to cover as a full-time freelancer.  The sports career ended when I retired from that after the Angels won the World Series in 2002.

Long story short, I have had the best of both the teaching and reporting worlds, bringing my experiences and lots of guest speakers to my role as chairman of the TV/Video Communications Department all these years since 1971 at Santa Ana and Santiago Canyon Colleges.  I always wanted to be a college professor and it gave me just enough "free" time to continue my sports coverage.  Now that I no longer do the sports, I teach more classes (beyond the normal load) and added large size film history classes to my  repertoire in the late 1990s.  That is why now with all the budget cuts I average about 450 students in 6 classes each fall and spring at both the colleges.  I enjoy getting the students excited about media-related topics and I hope I am helping them either get careers going or transfer to four-year colleges.  That's what keeps me going with no plans to retire as long as I stay healthy.  Teaching media is great because there is something new every day just like with being a reporter.  No two stories are exactly alike.

I have retired from my sports coverage after having covered well over 4,000 major league baseball games and about 1,500 Lakers and Clippers games and about 1,500 Ducks and Kings hockey games in addition to a couple of hundred USC football and basketball games, etc.  I was the official scorer of the LA Dodgers for 15 years as well.  This all has led me to cover a dozen Super Bowls after that first one, about 10 World Series matchups, several Laker NBA playoffs, and a couple of hockey Stanley Cup playoffs and about 20 Rose Bowl games.

OCS:    Your modern facilities at the Digital Media Center would, I imagine, be the envy of many small stations.  Please give us a brief history of how things have changed over the past 40 years, and how did you get this magnificent facility?
Terry:    When I first started 40 years ago at SAC, I was the print journalism instructor and adviser to the school newspaper el Don.  Then in 1983 when Santa Ana got its first cable TV franchise I helped start our new TV/Video Communications Department when we made a deal with the City of Santa Ana and the then local Cablevision franchise to run a Public Access TV station for them in return for equipment and a studio to begin training students in TV production and broadcast news courses.  Our first facility was a small studio and classroom at Centennial Park's Continuing Education Center.  We started with small classes and began our weekly cable news show "Around and About Orange County" in April of 1984.  Then in 1995 we became the first college to launch a Spanish language news show called "Noticiero Latino del Condado de Orange."  We alternate the AAOC and NLCO shows weekly now with a production group of about 45 new and advanced students each semester.  The shows are seen throughout Orange County on Time Warner cable systems and nationally on the internet on Facebook.  Thanks to voters who passed a key School Bond issue, we were able to use that and government grants to build our new facility at the Digital Media Center in Santa Ana.  It is a much larger facility and has brought even more students to our 15 course offerings in TV and Digital Productions, Broadcast News, Editing, Directing, Field Camera Production, Scriptwriting, Digital Graphics, etc.  This allows us to be state-of-the-art and provide good hands-on training that have helped more than 500 of our alumni land full-time employment over the past few years.  We are proud that we have trained international students from all over the world who find jobs then in their native lands.

OCS:    Your students don’t just learn, many of them excel and are ready to make a major contribution to employers when they graduate.  Please describe some of the awards and honors they seem to win all the time.
Terry:    Many of our news students especially have gone right from our program to full-time anchor, reporter, and producer jobs because we try to instruct them in a "real-world" fashion that includes preparing good resume tapes and knowing how to search for good entry-level jobs.  We track our alumni as they progress to larger marketplace jobs.  Many then return the favor by serving as guest speakers or intern supervisors for our current students.  In the last few semester many of our students have received prestigious local awards and scholarships.  Our news shows have dominated the 3C Solutions Student Media Awards over the past six years, taking 43 of a possible 100 awards last year among the 107 community colleges eligible to enter.  Two years ago we swept all 25 places out of 25 in the news category.  Many times when AAOC or NLCO covers an event they are complimented by professional journalists who are also on hand on the job they do.

OCS:    Where do you see the future of journalism going and how well do you think your graduates will be to make contributions to whatever comes (new media, etc).
Terry:    The future of journalism will probably continue to see print and electronic media converging on the internet in some way.  More students will eventually create their own blog sites and become stars that way.  No matter what happens, the skills in learning how to report, interview, and deliver material over the air will be needed in some form in the future so we think our graduates will continue to excel.  We have always insisted that on-air talent also learn to shoot with a camera and edit so that today's era of one-person media bands should be no challenge to our students.

OCS:    Lastly, what advice do you think is most important to students who want to pursue a career in any form of journalism?
Terry:    Beyond telling students to learn everything they can about covering and understanding the news and learn every skill technical possible, we instruct them in how to aggressively seek out possible internships and jobs as soon as possible to get their foot in the door.  We preach patience but persistence and instill in them that if they really have a passion for a career in the media, it will come to those who are best prepared.

For more information go to

On Santa Ana College Broadcast Journalism   http://sactv.sac.edu/

More sample broadcasts     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qClJH5GFfd8

Tour of the Digital Center      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wN8R6NKoBAA 

Broadcast Journalism on Facebook    http://www.facebook.com/SACTV.DMC

Thursday, July 18, 2024