EPME instructors prepare for the broadcast desk
By Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith , I.G. Brown Training and Education Center
/ Published April 16, 2015
MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. --
Broadcasting television may be more the job of a production company than the National Guard, but the Air National Guard's ability to telecast enlisted professional military education here is vital to its distance-learning mission.
That is why Master Sgt. Clifton Boswell from the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center evaluated Airmen's ability to instruct on the air.
"We're not teaching instructors to be broadcasters but rather educators on camera," said Boswell, a curriculum developer with the Media and Engagement Division.
Instructors from the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted PME Center learned the ins and outs of satellite EPME April 14-15 as part of a new course.
The instructor on camera training course prepared NCO academy and Airman leadership school instructors to teach from the TEC TV studios. That included the production, equipment and techniques behind the required leadership training, which is gearing up for the next broadcast.
The TEC has the only satellite EPME in the Air Force, and Boswell said that the training ensures a professional product. He helped teach, develop and deliver the course working with Lankford Center's satellite EPME team and TEC's broadcast engineers.
"They need to have formal, on-camera training before they can instruct in the satellite program," said Boswell.
It takes 80 hours of on camera instruction to teach a leadership school and 104 hours to teach the academy.
Like a real news anchor would, Boswell said that the training teaches common TV techniques used to keep a viewer's attention - how to talk to a camera, how to read a teleprompter, how to look at different camera angles, how to write a script, how to integrate graphics and video, how to use different TV sets or a green screen. Instructors also interact with TEC TV's broadcast technicians and gain a general knowledge of the studios.
After a day of classroom discussions, Boswell put the instructors behind the main broadcast desk for some camera and teleprompter work. He gave feedback using their recordings.
The instructors took turns under the gauntlet of studio lights as well as under the eyes of seasoned broadcast technicians and classmates. Teleprompt stumbles and funny mannerisms seemed amplified on camera, they said.
Master Sgt. Mary Moore - a senior instructor who arrived two years ago from the Georgia National Guard - said the camera work was a bit nerve-racking.
"My hands went a little numb, they're just starting to come back," she said, with a lighthearted smile.
"I already instruct ALS and NCOA, so I'm trying to see what this part of what we do here is about," said Moore. "This is the first time I have ever been in front of the camera."
Moore said that the course also helped her understand the extra tasks involved in going on camera as well as how the classroom curriculum incorporates into the satellite lessons.
Officials pointed out that satellite EPME reaches many people at once - ten times the number of students seen in TEC's traditional classrooms - and in remote places.
"The training is an eye opening experience into what and how the Satellite program operates," said Master Sgt. Beth Ruiz, superintendent of satellite EPME.
"The course will help the Lankford Center by providing a larger pool of camera-trained instructors, and not only for EPME broadcasts, but for EPME graduations that are broadcast via the Warrior Network," said Ruiz.
Air National Guard officials said that satellite EPME remains extremely popular because it allows Guard members to remain at home and reduces the time spent on campus for two weeks, compared to six weeks for TEC's full, in-resident courses. (The TEC still produces the largest annual volume of active duty, Guard and Reserve EPME graduates in the Air Force.)
The center's pilot test for a satellite NCO academy was in December 1993. Satellite Airmen leadership school restarted in 2013. The number of bases who facilitate satellite EPME continues to expand.
Seventeen sites will participate in the next satellite Airmen leadership school, April to June, with 165 Airmen.
But that popularity means long broadcasts for the assigned satellite instructors and support staff - two for the academy and two for the leadership school, a director, and an engineer - sitting at the broadcast desk and in the control rooms, well into the night, and for 16 hours on the weekends.
Keeping students engaged remotely is a challenge, said Boswell, who once served as a satellite instructor. "It's really involved."