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Broadcast students’ work opens local show

September 22, 2009

Students in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication are producing news and weather reports for “The Pat McMahon Show” on AZTV7/Cable13.

Beginning Oct. 5, students will open the popular morning talk show four days a week with news segments that they reported and produced themselves. Their pieces included breaking news and weather updates as well as in-depth packages on issues ranging from light rail to state budget cuts and from the H1N1 (swine flu) virus to homeless shelters. 

Students also contributed to the program during the spring semester.

The students all are members of Cronkite NewsWatch, the school’s award-winning student newscast, and many of their segments also appear on other Cronkite television productions, which reach more than 1.2 million homes via KAET-Eight Digital, ASUtv, and Tempe and Mesa Cable 11. 

Liz McKernan, who graduated from the Cronkite School in May, said the experience helped her learn a different kind of delivery than the one she usually used as an anchor for Cronkite NewsWatch.

“I enjoyed the chance to participate because the updates for 'The Pat McMahon show,' while hard news, were delivered with a lighter, morning feel,” she says.

Mark Lodato, television news director for the Cronkite School, said the partnership with AZTV is a way to expose a whole new audience to the work of Cronkite students.

“Pat McMahon is a Valley icon, and we’re excited about this opportunity to take our work to commercial television in the 12th-largest media market in the country,” Lodato says. “Few, if any, journalism schools in the country reach a larger audience than we do through Cronkite NewsWatch.”

McMahon says he’s pleased with the level of professionalism shown by Cronkite students.

“When we began to investigate the feasibility of using Cronkite students to open the show with a newscast, my only concern was how ‘student’ their presentation would be,” McMahon says. “From the first show it was clear I had nothing to fear. They are — and have been — disciplined broadcasters and budding professionals. ... In fact, many of my guests in-studio were totally surprised to find out that they were still in school.” 

Laura Holka, the show’s executive producer, also pronounced the partnership a success.

“I have been very pleased with the students, story choices and overall production value of Cronkite NewsWatch. Partnering with the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to bring the news to our viewers has been interesting, informative and entertaining,” she says.

The McMahon show airs at 9 a.m. weekdays on channels 7 and 13 in the Phoenix metropolitan area.