Where the tide can take you

Michelle Peace Photos

By Faith Inman

In the broadcasting industry, it is difficult to begin working in a job or internship that gives you one-on-one time behind the camera.

Jami Upchurch worked her way through her internship and is now a sideline reporter for Carolina on Demand Sports, which is affiliated with News 14 Carolina (Channel 199 or 1047) and Time Warner Cable.

Upchurch, a senior at William Peace University, has set a goal to be a television broadcaster. With the help of the Career Center at WPU and her Communications professor, Teresa Holder, Upchurch is not giving up on her goal.

It all began this past spring when Upchurch earned an internship with the Special Projects department at Carolina on Demand. While working in the department, she put the skills she learned in her Communications classes with Roger Christman, toward news pieces. Upchurch claims she never felt like an intern because her site supervisors gave her many responsibilities.

Once spring turned to summer she was able to continue her internship and work with Carolina on Demand, this time with the Miss North Carolina Pageant. “They knew I had interest in gaining on-camera experience and had me doing interviews with former Miss NC queens. During the week of the pageant, I also did the end-of-the-night preliminary wrap-ups and interviewed the prelim winners,” said Upchurch.

When the time came for her internship to end, Upchurch was thanked for her hard work and asked to come back as a part-time sideline reporter for the Time Warner Cable games of the week for football season. Her job requirements are the same as any full-time reporter – focusing on a lot of weekly preparation.

Upchurch praises her family background in helping her with this new job, “I come from a long line of athletes and was fortunate that I was knowledgeable of football.”

When the channel provides her with information about the games, the research process begins. Upchurch starts by finding out information on the facility, coaches, players, and the team’s history.

Upchurch is introduced at the start of each game by the commentators, and then they send the camera back down to her once or twice a quarter. If something interesting happens on the sidelines, such as an injury report or fact about an outstanding player then Upchurch is called upon to provide an update.

When halftime approaches, Upchurch conducts a couple of interviews with one of the team’s head coaches. “This can be difficult because I have to make sure to catch the coach before they run off the field. If the coach is losing then getting a quality answer to a question can be challenging,” said Upchurch.

By the end of the game, she has to run and grab the winning head coach for an interview. The challenge here is meeting the time slot after the commercial break. Upchurch mentioned that the games fly by because she is usually going from one end of the field to the other for coverage, or to hunt down her cameraman.

Talk about an experience that will lead to opportunity.

Upchurch encourages other Communications students to get internships that are beneficial toward their careers and make the most of every opportunity.

“You get what you put in to it and that’s the reason for an internship. Put as much work into it as if your career counts on it because you never know who is paying attention,” says Upchurch.

She also says to never second-guess yourself if you want to pursue a career in broadcasting. Upchurch honed in on confidence, “You have to have confidence to jump in front of the camera and gain every bit of experience as possible. If you second-guess yourself now then you will never have the drive to beat all the competition.”

When asked about her future goals, Upchurch mentioned graduating, producing a quality resume reel, sending tape to television stations, and earning a full-time job as a television broadcaster. “Sky is the limit, after that, and I will float wherever the tide takes me.”

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