Booming FHS Live program racks up successes, looks to future
New facilities will be available soon at school that will broaden project's capabilities
FARMINGTON — The FHS Live streaming broadcast and Internet radio network launched two years ago at Farmington High School may have been modest in scale in its original form, but it has grown into an ambitious project that now includes the efforts of nearly three dozen students.
If you doubt that, consider Johnny Curry's description of the kind of manpower it takes to mount a single broadcast of a Scorpions basketball game. The FHS faculty member and coach coordinates the program, and has overseen its growth over the past two years.
"We have a director," he said. "And, depending on the game, we'll have three to six cameras. We'll have no less than one on-the-floor reporter, sometimes two on the floor. We'll have a sound technician, and we'll have two broadcasters doing play by play and color."
That crew can total up to a dozen students for a single game, rivaling the staffing of many professional media organizations.
"I liken it to a student-led ESPN," Curry said. "From 7 (p.m.) to 11 (p.m.), these students are working as a team to pull off a broadcast. And we run the radio station like a terrestrial radio station."
Curry takes a lot of pride in the program and talks up its potential for growth, explaining that many of the 35 students who participated this year did so even though they were not part of the career technical education program at the school through which FHS Live is operated.
"It's definitely a growing thing," he said, noting the program had only 28 participants in its inaugural year. "Next year, with our new construction and with the administration getting behind what we are doing, we're going to have a video studio and an audio studio."
One of those facilities also will be used as an improvised recording studio, he said, explaining that students will be able to record music demos while other students will be able to learn the fundamentals of the recording process.
Curry isn't sure how many other high schools in the state have similar programs, but he believes it couldn't be more than a handful, if that many. Two of the program's students, Jonah Herman and Cameron Nez, won three first-place awards — student play by play, student DJ personality and student newscast — at the recent New Mexico Broadcasters Association awards banquet, though Curry explained the winning entries were actually the work of many students in the program.
He also noted the FHS program was competing against college students and programs in the NMBA competition. The other high school broadcasting programs in the state tend to be aligned with professional radio stations, he said, rather than operating independently like the one in Farmington.
"If there is a program like ours in the state, we don't know about it," he said.
FHS Live covers much more than athletic events. It broadcasts the school's theater productions and choir concerts, its National Honor Society induction ceremony, and news stories and profiles of students who do exceptional things. There is also a weekday morning show on the Internet radio station, "Good Morning, Farmington High."
Three of the students in the program — Herman, Nez and Terrell Kosea — are getting extra experience this summer working for Curry as part of the staff of the Farmington Frackers amateur baseball club. Curry is the club's operations director, and his students perform such tasks as running the PA and music systems at Ricketts Park, keeping the team's statistics and handing on-field events.
Other students are working this summer at the Garcia Brothers Marketing Company in Farmington, thanks to a connection with owner Brent Garcia, who is a member of the FHS Live advisory board.
"They're getting some real-world internship opportunities," Curry said of the FHS Live students.
Everyone associated with the program is excited about the new facilities, but Curry said it's up to the students to make the most of their opportunities.
"I have big plans, man, but this will be as big as the students want it to be," he said. "One of the things I'd like to do with the new construction is have a weekday news broadcast and do it live."
Curry also hopes to take the radio station beyond the Internet and obtain a low-power FM license to make it a terrestrial station that would have a 3- or 4-mile radius of the school.
"That way, we'd be not just on the Internet, but in people's vehicles," he said. "And down the road we could become a full-time network with prerecorded material."
Mike Easterling is the night editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.