Huntington University is a Christian liberal arts college in Indiana

Learning through experience:

Alumnus gains skills using hands-on approach
Todd Stapleton describes benefits of studying communication at Huntington University, a Christian college.

"With HTV, I had the opportunity to be in a leadership position early on, and that experience is already paying dividends."

As the producer of 2 News Sunrise on NBC affiliate WDTN in Dayton, Todd Stapleton begins his day at about the same time most of us are ready to call it a night.

Sunday through Thursday, Todd arrives at the station before midnight to begin planning the show, which is broadcast from 5 to 7 a.m. His preparation includes selecting stories to cover, assigning stories and locations to reporters and cameramen, and writing most of the copy that will be read on the air by the two anchors. As the program is being broadcast, Todd stays in constant contact with the reporters on the street and ensures that everything is running according to schedule, right down to the second.

"It can be a little hectic at times, especially when there’s breaking news, but I love this job," Todd said. "I’m responsible for the structure of each show, from top to bottom."

Todd’s position at WDTN is actually his second professional gig since he earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting in the spring of 2007. Right after graduation, he landed a job producing the morning show on WLFI, the CBS affiliate in Lafayette, Ind.

Todd credits the hands-on experience he gained as an undergrad for his employability. For four years, he was a member of the team at HTV, the university’s student-led news program. He also served two internships—one with WANE-TV in Fort Wayne and another with his current employer, WDTN. Todd found both internships through the university’s Enterprise Resource Center.

"With HTV, I learned the skill sets to be both a producer and a director," Todd said. "A producer creates a road map for a show, while a director is the driver that makes sure that map is followed. With HTV, I also had the opportunity to be in a leadership position early on, and that experience is already paying dividends."

Todd’s first internship came during January Term of his junior year. "During that J-term with WANE-TV, I got my first exposure outside of a college setting to what a television producer does, and I think that fine-tuned my career goals," Todd said. "My second internship, with WDTN the following summer, was longer, and I learned more about the inner-workings of a newsroom and received a lot more feedback on my writing and other skills.

"An internship," Todd continues, "is a must. There’s no way I would have gotten this job at WDTN — or the one in Lafayette — without having the kind of real-world experience an internship provides. Dr. Lance Clark in the communication department really emphasized the importance of internships. He said one was absolutely essential, but two would be much better."

While Todd says he still has plenty to learn in his new job, that doesn’t mean he isn’t focused on the future.

"My goal is to keep climbing the ladder and eventually work for a Top-25 market station. I’d also like to get into management some day and maybe run an entire newsroom or news organization. But right now, I’m loving what I’m doing, and it will be a long time before I get bored with it."

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