#AVisLIFE: Vocational Explorer Post Has Teens in Durham, NC Lead Broadcast Operations for MiLB Durham Bulls

Photos by Sara Abrons

70 youth ages 14-20 years old direct, produce and execute the broadcast operations at MiLB AAA baseball team the Durham Bulls and have been for the past 20 years.

As a part of a an Explorer Post under the Boy Scouts of America, both male and female participants fill roles ranging from the executive producer to camera operators at each home game for the Bulls, over 70 games in total each season. In all, there are 18 volunteer team members per game that fill the following roles: executive producer, director, technical director, graphics, color correction, PTZ operator, replay and camera operators. The broadcast, itself is streamed onsite to MiLB.com. In addition, in-game video operations use their camera feeds.

But, to the program advisors, it is much more than that. The program’s website says, “While we take great pride in teaching the skills needed to produce a television broadcast, we believe our greatest responsibility is to mold our young people into well-adjusted, productive, responsible individuals.”

The 18 explorer post members, ages 14-20 years old, direct and control the entire operation, and their passion in regards to it is inspiring. They don’t just fill a role — they really love it. There are four areas as a part of each game: an audio booth, main control, back control and field operations. Below you can see the broadcast suite in each form, and members of the program in action.

Alex, a 17 year old senior in high school, has been a member of the program for three years. She’s served in every role and now is a member of the pit crew, the youth leadership team of the program working directly with the advisor of the program, Ken Bland, a local professional. Her favorite aspect of the program, paired with enjoying time with her peers is the learning experience.

Ben, Alex’s 15-year-old peer in his first year with the program, shared that the “experience of getting to do something different” is what sets the program apart. “I found out about the program as my sister did it so as soon as I had the opportunity, I signed up.” As he is just starting out, his current (and favorite) role is a dugout camera operator but can’t wait to advance to higher roles such as the director and executive producer.

Two members working in the back control room for this game, Jacob (replay) and Austin (color correction) have part-time jobs with Fox Sports because of their experience with the Explorer Post 50 program.

So yes, they do fill the entire role along with the responsibilities. Here is a quick overview:

  • Executive Producer: log commercials and oversee the broadcast suite
  • Director: call and direct the live show
  • Technical Director: operate the control operations in the broadcast suite
  • Graphics Tech: score and game graphics (that are sent to the technical director for the broadcast)
  • Replay Director: oversee replay operations
  • Color Correction Tech: color correct cameras (as some are outside and others are inside)
  • PTZ Camera Operator: operate PTZ cameras in the stadium

Once again, each of these roles are filled by a high school student.

The 70 team members are all volunteers but do receive two tickets each game for friends and family, a meal and unlimited soft drinks onsite and the opportunity to receive a $1,000 college scholarship. It isn’t hard to notice, however, the impressive amount of experience each youth is receiving. To join, an application process including an interview takes place. Graduates of the program have gone on to work in broadcast AV, including in positions for ESPN and professional sports teams.

Each member of the team works with products from manufacturers from the ProAV and broadcast industry such as ClearCom, Sony, Denon, JBL, AJA, Blackmagic and NewTek.

The program is supported by Jim Goodmon, owner of the Durham Bulls and founder of local communications company Capitol Broadcasting Company.

More information about the program can be found here.

You can view more photos below.

[PUBS]: Durham Bulls Explorer Post 50