WKU PBS: a hidden gem in the broadcasting department

Kalee Chism

At WKU, a student can get real-world, broadcast experience working on campus. The WKU PBS station, located at the Academic Complex, is a station with a massive percentage of student workers and volunteers. 

According to the WKU website on public broadcasting, WKU PBS is a public television station broadcasting “informative, educational, and culturally diverse television programs.” Channel 24 is brought to over 250,000 people in Kentucky and is carried by over 20 cable systems. 

WKU PBS is made up of many student workers and volunteers and provides the opportunity to learn about television production on campus and in a college environment. 

“In production there are 16 student employees. There are usually between three to seven student volunteers,” David Brinkley, director of public broadcasting, said. “Operation wide, though, we usually staff between 20-25 students. There are currently 21 students on the paid staff.” 

WKU PBS is flexible with student employees’ hours to help them balance schoolwork and their work at the station. 

Jelisa Chatman, a senior from Franklin, has had multiple jobs at the PBS station and believes they are very understanding when it comes to making her work schedule. 

“PBS understands that school comes first, and they won’t overwork you if they know you’re having a hard time in class,” Chatman said.

Student workers at WKU PBS begin as volunteers. The station then gives these students opportunities to work their way up to getting on the payroll. 

Jordan Upton, the Student Crew chief and a junior from Bowling Green, said the PBS station has a system that works for both students and employees. 

“All who apply start off as unpaid volunteers at the station. They are trained for our workflow and equipment and participate in station events, but they do not have the responsibilities of the paid crew,” Upton said. “Once positions open up, the volunteers who have put in the most effort are hired and get paid $8 per hour.”

Working at WKU PBS is not only a way to make connections, but also a way to make life-long friends, according to Chatman. 

“The best part about working at PBS is that we are a huge family. I don’t consider the kids there as my co-workers,” Chatman said. “They truly are some of my best friends that I know I’ll keep in touch with no matter where we are. I’m so grateful to have worked with them for the past three years.”

Joe Gibbs, a former WKU PBS employee, claims his experience at the station has helped him grow in his field and prepare for the real world.

“I wouldn’t trade the experiences I had at PBS for anything,” Gibbs said. “I would without a doubt recommend anyone who is pursuing a degree in broadcasting from WKU to at least volunteer for a semester. I’d also like to mention that through working at WKU PBS, I was given opportunities to work freelance for companies like ESPN, CBS and the Big Ten Network.” 

According to Upton, working at a television station is a way for students to make connections, learn the ropes and get their name out there. Upton also claims it is one of the best jobs on campus.

“It is the only job I know of that gives you all that you put into it. If you work tirelessly, seek opportunity and learn from your mistakes, it is the best job in the world for a college student,” Upton said.