Rolling Out

Atlanta Football Insider teaches high schoolers broadcast basics

Student interviews NFL's Steven Jackson
Student interviews NFL’s Steven Jackson

Atlanta Football Insider seeks to provide training opportunities for students in the field of broadcast journalism. Each week, students from Grady High School and North Atlanta High School are allowed to produce high school football games in the city of Atlanta.

AFI’s founder, Will Tolbert, recently discussed this initiative with rolling out magazine.

Talk about what Atlanta Football Insider does.

Atlanta Football Insider is a pilot mentoring program that highlights and brings awareness to the Atlanta Public Schools football program, while providing hands-on production opportunities to APS students. To that end, the mentoring program includes APS broadcast students from Grady High School, Tolbert’s alma mater, and North Atlanta High School, working alongside seasoned professionals to produce the weekly broadcast. I wanted to include the students in the production so they could get an opportunity to see real-life work being done in a field they are considering going into post education.

How has this program helped to train students on the fundamentals of broadcast journalism?

The students started by assisting the professionals and have now moved in to performing those duties on their own.  For instance Toren Stafford, a sophomore at North Atlanta, started out as a camera assistant and through his hard work and embracing the opportunity is now an associate producer and sideline camera op directing our sideline interviews.  Davis Baker, another sophomore from North Atlanta, started the first game easing in as the commentator and is now the lead play by play announcer and has helped the transition to two students in the booth, along with Grady junior Noel Booker, and leads the weekly research of the teams and writes the pre game and halftime show breaks.

How are students chosen to be a part of Atlanta Football Insider?

Students were chosen from 2 of the 5 video broadcast pathway programs offered in Atlanta Public Schools.  The schools that offer video production as pathways are grady, North Atlanta, Jackson, Mays, and Douglass.  We have recently included students who have shown an interest in production from Therrell High School and look to expand to the other schools in APS with our next projects.  The core that we have established with these first wave of student will be the foundation and leaders for the ones to follow.

What have been some of the memorable moments thus far?

The most memorable moments have been the sideline interviews with Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, board members Courtney English, Byron Amos, and Eshe’ Collins, and Atlanta Falcons Running back Stephen Jackson.  Those moments seeing our students produce those segments from in front and behind the camera personify what this program is all about.  

Do you guys plan on expanding to other sports as well?

After football we will be producing a coaches show highlighting coaches across all sports in the district as well as a weekly sports round up show to get more exposure for all the student athletes.  Additionally, we will be looking at doing complete game broadcasts for basketball, baseball, track and soccer.

Where can viewers catch AFI’s game of the week?

AFI games can be seen nightly at 8 p.m. on APS Comcast channel 22, with a new game debuting every Wednesday night. Additionally, you can catch previous AFI games as well as scores and recaps for every school and the AFI power rankings in the Atlanta Football Insider App available on iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices or on our Youtube page.

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