Studio grand opening draws panel of alumni media notables
Tom Caron '86, Jonah Kessel '06 and Clare Wool '88 tell of careers with NESN, New York Times and MTV, respectively; new facility wows a packed house
Saint Michael’s College’s brand-new Media Creation Studio is up and running, providing the campus community – and potentially, organizations beyond – with new opportunities for learning and communicating using professional-level, cutting-edge equipment, including remote-controlled cameras and a 4K digital laser projector.
The College celebrated the grand opening of the studio on Thursday, February 2, by inviting several distinguished alumni back to campus to talk about the importance of having this type of resource on campus and how it will equip students with the future skills that will be in high demand.
The three alumni – longtime NESN Red Sox broadcaster Tom Caron ‘86, New York Times Deputy Director of Opinion Video Jonah Kessel ‘06, and former event producer for MTV Networks Clare Wool ‘88 – have all had successful careers in visual media since graduation, and they participated in a panel discussion and open house for the Media Creation Studio Thursday afternoon.
“It’s so exciting that the Media Creation Studio is finally here and being used daily by our students, faculty, and staff,” said Media Creation Studio Director Patrick Bohan. “Anyone can come into the studio and start creating videos, interviews, talk shows, voice-overs, podcasts, green-screen elements, and much more. The creativity and skill-building that I’ve witnessed in the studio is extremely impressive, and yet it is still just the beginning.”
The Farrell Room filled to standing-room-only with the crowd spilling into the hallway for the 4 p.m. Thursday panel with the three prominent alumni media figures, who each took a turn telling of his or her professional path after graduation. Later they took questions from the audience. Jon Hyde of the media studies, journalism and digital arts faculty introduced Bohan to start the panel gathering. After Bohan’s short remarks thanking the many supporters of the studio project, he played for the audience an engaging and professional quality short video or “sizzle reel” about the studio that he created, drawing a round of applause.
Wool first told of how she landed a job and rose through the ranks of MTV in an era when it was a true cultural leader and icon. Under questioning from Hyde she explored some of the differences in global perspective between her younger self and her children, based on media consumption.
Kessel told about his path to the New York Times, through early newspaper jobs to working in Africa and China and across Asia before returning to the Times main office. He said it all started working for the Saint Michael’s student paper The Defender as a photographer.
Tom Caron said he also got his start at The Defender. He told of interning at a local TV station, working his way through New England sports jobs before getting noticed at NESN, and creating his own role as the first sideline reporter. “I created that,” he said, adding, “Watching baseball beats working” for a career.
The panelists had an interesting conversation with Hyde and audience members on assorted topics: using popular modern media tools like Tik Tok, strategies for storytelling in an age of distraction, telling stories people do not want to hear but need to hear, guiding youth in positive media consumption, and other issues. Kessel stressed how important it is to read things you do not agree with. The more we do that, he said, “The better democracy we’ll be.”
Hyde asked all the panelists to talk of the ways liberal arts informs their experiences. All three emphatically said that, eventually if not immediately, they came to value all their Saint Michael’s classes in every discipline in preparing them for being in the world and understanding its many dimensions well.
After the panel, everybody moved one floor downstairs to the studio itself, where Bohan explained the different functions of the studio to a group gathered inside, as others checked out the Control Room. Bohan projected nature scenes onto the new 4K digital laser projector, which was almost as large as one of the studio walls, to show the quality of the equipment. The projector screen had been installed just days before the studio’s opening. Area media reporters spoke to students and the alumni panelists for reports that ran on the night’s newscasts, and guests buzzed about possibilities for the new facility.
The Media Creation Studio will provide students and faculty the opportunity to interface with media production professionals and learn how to use equipment, including 4K video cameras and professional microphones, lights, and editing software. It will also provide a space for students to workshop ideas, get help on projects, and take their production skills to the next level, with the eventual aim of producing media for AR and VR technologies.
The studio is open to students from all majors, who can explore the rapidly growing world of media production through the studio — expanding their skills and future marketability. The studio and equipment were made possible, in part, by a $150,000 grant from The George I. Alden Trust — a longtime supporter of smaller Northeast colleges including Saint Michael’s.