Newport News Public Schools TV and the Telecommunications Center

TV crew posing for photo with TV camera
Collin Smalls, Muriel Gamble, Brandon K. Hedgepeth, and Joshua Stuck have been supporting Telecom TV and video productions for the past few years. Photo: Ray Price

Born out of a world-wide disaster, Telecom's dream team works like a well-oiled machine.

Four graduates of Newport News Public Schools' Telecom program have been a reliable crew for the three years following the COVID-19 pandemic.

When school was canceled, then held remotely during the pandemic, Telecom had to adapt. Students had to continue learning TV production using Zoom and creating videos using their phones.

As school and sports were added back carefully and with restrictions the next year, Telecom had to continue to adapt.

The high school football season returned in 2021, and was held in the spring. Ray Price, Telecom's Supervisor and Executive Producer of high school football, felt it was import to televise as many games as possible. Social distancing rules meant very few fans were allowed to attend the games in person.

Price assembled a group of Telecom graduates to help produce and livestream those games, since the current TV students had not been able to acquire the necessary training for a live production.

The small football crew included Brandon K. Hedgepeth, Collin Smalls, and Joshua Stuck, who had all graduated a year or two earlier.

Muriel Gamble joined the crew later that spring for Christopher Newport University's 2020 and 2021 graduations, which were held in May of 2021. The team then helped cover the NNPS graduations, which were held outdoors at Todd Stadium, in June.

The team has been relied upon for School Board meetings, Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) convention coverage, a production of CNU's Holiday Happening for WHRO, the New Horizons Career Selection Day Ceremony, and many other productions. Recently, they covered the Allen Iverson honorary street dedication ceremony in Hampton.

So who are these dedicated crew members? Why do they work on the Telecom crew and what else do they do? Find out below!

Crew member profiles

Muriel Gamble is a 2017 graduate of An Achievable Dream High School and the Telecom program. As a student, her favorite parts of the program were "learning how to edit and watching the video ideas that we storyboarded come to life," she said via email.

"I also loved the fact that no day was the same," she added. "We would get off the bus to go to class and end up going to Palmer [Elementary School] to film a segment recording barn animals. I never knew what I was going to do in class that day, but I always knew it was my favorite part of the day."

In high school, Gamble worked on as many TV productions as she could, and her favorite position - then and now - was camera operator. She feels this job allows her to be more creative and also is closer to the action, and a big part of the production.

Gamble graduated from Radford University in Media Production in 2021. She currently works as an HOA association manager while pursuing jobs in the media production field. Working on the Telecom crew helps her keep up her production skills, and, since she loves shopping, "the extra money is a plus," she added.

More than gaining experience for her résumé and earning money, Gamble loves the camaraderie of working on the crew and using her skills. "I genuinely have fun doing media production and hanging out with the crew," she reported.

Collin Smalls graduated from Menchville High and Telecom in 2019. As a student, he loved working with the large TV truck and having most of his class as the crew when they did productions.

"I tried to work as many productions as were available," he said in an email. "I enjoyed working with a great crew and very respectful staff," he added.

Smalls' favorite position has always been camera operator, and he is enjoying it even more now because of the updated cameras.

"It has changed since I was a student there, but for the better," he said.

He enjoys live and live-to-tape productions most.

Smalls works in the hospitality industry, cleaning for Airbnb, but also does video production at his church, Water's Edge.

"The church productions are recorded live and uploaded straight to the internet, a church app, YouTube, and more," he said.

Smalls did find time to join his family on a cruise to The Bahamas, where he was "amazed" by the food and entertainment on board the ship.

His other hobbies? Smalls enjoys video games when he has time, and says he practices drumming "almost everywhere I go."

Joshua Stuck is a Denbigh High 2020 graduate. He spent two years in the Telecom program, and "rarely missed the chance to work a job with the crew," he said via email.

He loved the hands-on aspect of TV production classes and the "collaborative" nature of the video projects.

After graduating from Denbigh, Stuck went to college, but between the pandemic and other factors, decided to pursue a different path. He studied Cybersecurity and earned multiple industry certifications from various agencies like AWS, ISC2, and CompTIA.  He continues studying and training while looking for a job in that field.

"My job hunt has expanded to the world scale since getting my passport," he added.

Stuck says he was "honored to be a part of the team that helped broadcast games throughout the pandemic so families could still watch safely from home."

As far as being part of the current Telecom team, Stuck says there are many reasons for it, most notably that the crew members have become his close friends. 

"Each time we do a shoot, it feels less like a job and more like meeting up with my best friends to do a fun project," he explained.

Stuck also enjoys working with Telecom Supervisor Price, who he says is the best boss he could ask for.

"He's always right there with the rest of us, working, laughing, having fun, and making every job the best," he said.

When Stuck was a student, his favorite position was working the audio board, which he still does for most of the School Board meetings.  But then he learned the DDR (Digital Disk Recorder/Instant Replay) and enjoyed being Technical Director for a while. However, during the pandemic he started working cameras, and "quickly developed a love for camera work," he noted. He enjoys using a hand-held camera, too, at times.

"So at the end of the day, I've done a bit of everything and love it all," he said.

At the end of last year, Stuck had the opportunity to work with Tom Powers and the SKY4 WSKY-TV crew on their annual Virginia Beach Christmas Parade shoot. 

"It was a wonderful experience to work with them all," Stuck said.

Outside of video production, Stuck enjoys hobbies ranging from reading (currently The Martian) and playing video games (currently "Baldur's Gate 3") to learning how to deejay ("I've always had a love for almost every kind of music, and just think it could be fun.").

Brandon K. Hedgepeth is a 2020 Woodside graduate, who also has been a Telecom intern, and currently serves as Telecom's Streaming Coordinator.

When he was a student, Hedgepeth loved the variety at Telecom: the interesting curriculum and the many different types of productions and crew positions available to work.

"I enjoyed the responsibility granted when you are on the crew," he said in an email.

He worked every production he could and especially liked School Board meetings and the NNPS graduations.

Hedgepeth continues to work on the crew because his time at Telecom was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. He had enjoyed the program and missed it, so he was pleased he could work the NNPS graduations.

"Once a small group of us were invited to put together those graduations," he said, "I invited myself back to the School Board meeting crew because I missed it so much!"

Hedgepeth is enjoying being the stream coordinator (livestreams on YouTube) and serving as director, too. But he has always loved the audio technician role.

"Without good audio, we cannot have a quality production," he said.

As Telecom Intern in the fall of 2021, Hedgepeth got to see the program a different way: the daily work that makes the program run smoothly. He also was thrilled to engage with the students.

Although he loves working with audio, he hopes to co-produce some productions in the future.

Hedgepeth has been a busy man since graduating from high school. He had completed the NNPS Early College program and therefore was already done with his first semester of college. Between that program, AP classes, Dual Enrollment, Telecom, and the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, he was an advanced sophomore when he enrolled at Old Dominion University.

Due to the pandemic, he decided to be an online student at the last minute, choosing the "asynchronous format," which means the work can be done on your own schedule rather than meeting online for class at a certain time. This allowed Hedgepeth to work at Telecom more, and, he said, "I think that was the best decision I could have made."

At ODU, Hedgepeth completed a leadership program (Monarch LEAD) and a high-impact learning program (LeADERS), and did a two internships, all while serving in other leadership roles and working toward his degree.

He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication with a Major in Media Studies in December 2022, but continued his studies and will receive a master's degree in Lifespan & Digital Communication this spring. His master's coursework, part of ODUGlobal, is online, but "synchronous," meaning he meets online at class time.

Hedgepeth has done a bit of online teaching and class management, too. Last year, he was a graduate teaching assistant for an Introduction to Human Communication class. Currently, he teaches a section of Public Speaking, which involves enhancing the module-style learning format, grading the students, and holding office hours for student support.

Hedgepeth is involved with ODU's chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), as well as its alumni association chapter, and was Promotions Director for WODU Studios, the student-run radio station, for a couple of years.

Outside of the Telecom program and his university studies, Hedgepeth created a podcast in 2017, while he was in high school. He started doing more consistent episodes in 2020, and has made well over 300 total.

Lately, he has produced and hosted the "Tansson Talks" video podcast show, with an interview released every week. Some of the guests interviewed on his show have been fellow members of PRSSA, college students and recent graduates, career professionals and local officials, including Virginia Delegate Shelly Simonds.

"Producing this show follows my passion and drive to help bring people together," he said.

Hedgepeth also puts out weekly television discussions on his YouTube channel, https://youtube.com/@TanssonTalks, which often pertain to sitcom episodes.

Besides conducting interviews, Hedgepeth has been interviewed himself for student profile videos twice. In 2021, the Virginia Space Grant Consortium highlighted him in their "Next Steps in STEM" video series, and this year he was featured in the ODU episode of The College Tour, a web television show on Amazon. 

Additionally, in 2022, Hedgepeth created a promotional video for the ODU Art Department through PRSSA. He is a frequent contributor to The Vessel, the newsletter for ODU's Department of Communication and Theatre Arts.

Hedgepeth also has been the livestream operator for Hidenwood Presbyterian Church for monthly livestreams, for the past couple years.

As far as hobbies outside of media production, Hedgepeth loves reading and writing. He is especially interested in the STEM field and enjoys researching topics of interest to him.