The Admission Essay

Brett Whitmarsh’s Quinnipiac Statement Aug. 2009:

The clock is ticking at WCSH 6, the NBC television station in Portland, Maine, where I work. As I sit at my desk in the newsroom, the big digital clock reads 6:50; ten minutes before the show I produce goes on the air live across the state. As the seconds tick away, I think of the suspenseful beeping of the famous clock on the TV show, “24”. This newsmagazine show is called “207”. If you are not from Maine, the name might seem odd to you, but Maine has only one area code, 207.

The computer screen in front of me displays my “I-news” scripts, and I decide to print them. At this point in the evening, I am either going to feel very confident or very nervous about the show that is about to be broadcast. “207” has been on the air nearly six years, and I have been here from the start. I was brought in a week before the dawn of “207” as the field producer for the show and also for a second weekly show, “Bill Greene’s Maine”.

Before Portland, I worked at a 24-hour news channel, Capital News 9, in Albany, New York as a news photographer and live truck operator for a year and a half. After being in Albany for only a few weeks, the station sent me to New York City to work for their more famous sister station, NY1, for a few weeks. Those weeks set the tone for the time I spent in New York and also taught me some valuable lessons. My first live shot landed me in the center of Times Square. Sadly that shot was cut short by a technical glitch within the truck, which caught me off guard. I had been adequately trained how to run a live shot, but not how to fix the truck when it didn’t work. At that moment I learned two things: always have a back up plan and that the more I knew about everything, the better off I would be in life. Simply put, knowledge is power – the power to go anywhere and do anything and to get the job done right.

The clock back in Maine now reads 6:55. It is still ticking and I have not seen or heard from my director. A small moment of panic washes over me as I decide if I could direct the show if I needed to, and yes, I feel confident that I could. Relief arrives when I hear my director’s voice from behind me asking for his scripts. My next thought focuses in on my two anchors, more specifically, where are they? I decide it’s time to get into the control room and wait for them there. I have known them both for six years and they like to cut it close. Sometimes I think it gives them a little thrill to make me nervous.

I sit in the control room and stare at an even bigger digital clock, 6:58 and still no anchors. Could I anchor the show if I needed to, yes. My face would not be unfamiliar to viewers. Over the years I have been a reporter, writer, photographer, and editor. In fact, I edited all the video in tonight’s show. I might even go so far as to say that I know this particular show better than anyone.

At 6:59 the anchors are settling in, cracking a few jokes with each other. They have a brilliant chemistry together, not to mention they look good sitting next to one another. My final thoughts before the show cover a wide range of topics. Is the blog up? Did we activate the recipe on the cooking section of our website? Are all the links on the site working properly? Did I stream the right video for tonight’s show? Does everyone have what he or she needs and are they where they need to be? The answer to all of this is yes because I have been working throughout the day to ensure that all is going well, but I never stop worrying until 7:30 when the show ends.

Tonight’s show starts at 7 with a great story on a guy in Boothbay Harbor who makes lobster ice cream, then comedian Bob Marley has everyone in stitches as he makes funny faces. A cooking segment follows featuring a delicious stuffed salmon recipe. Finally, we bring it on home with a rockin’ band all the way from Scotland.

There is so much more I want to do with this show using new techniques and following new directions; however, there are things I want to do in communications beyond this show. When “207” fades to black for the last time, my goal is to make a transition to education and teach at the college level. I have had great opportunities and varied experiences in my career and education in this industry. I would like to share that knowledge and those experiences with others, to help shape journalists, broadcasters, and producers of tomorrow. The online master’s degree program at Quinnipiac will give me the tools I need to move forward with my career.

Quinnipiac offers the right program for me because it will allow me the flexibility to continue to produce the show I love from the state of Maine while earning my master’s degree. The design of the structure of the Interactive Communications Degree Program from Quinnipiac will give me the further education that I need to be a more effective professional in the communications field.

I hope to be looking at a different clock in my future, one in a classroom where I will be running through a mental checklist deciding how much more I can fit into my class schedule before letting the students go for the day.

This is my moment to move forward, the right time for me to acquire my master’s degree. Quinnipiac University and the Interactive Communications Masters Degree seems well tailored to my goals.