STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Students at Monsignor Farrell’s WFBN-TV station were having another spectacular year with amazing opportunities and incredible guests, until March 13, that is, when they were forced to broadcast their last live production amid news of the coronavirus, as sheltering in place and rigid school restrictions became a way of life.
And in the weeks that followed, members of the TV production crew — aspiring journalists themselves — said they’ve found new respect for news reporters and broadcast journalists, who are working remotely to cover all aspects of the world in crisis.
COMMENTS FROM FARRELL STUDENTS AND BROTHER PAUL HANNON
“Being studio manager at WFBN-TV, I deal with the everyday challenges we face during a live show,” said Nick Diaz, a senior. “I cannot imagine what it would be like doing a live show remotely, and the challenges it would present. In these times, I find it motivating to see how the news and media have adapted to new conditions. We see news broadcasters, local media, talk show hosts and celebrities on TV from their homes. This is no small task, and I hope to discover new methods that the media has adapted, and using them may be useful down the line in my career. Stay safe!”
Said sophomore Michael LaMorte: “As an aspiring reporter, an event like this motivates me to stay updated with the news. These events have made me realize the importance of our first responders, as they play a major role in fighting this devastating pandemic. I cannot wait to return to school and catch everyone up on major events many people are unaware about due to the daily coverage of COVID-19. I hope everyone is staying safe by staying home, and paying attention to major updates on the news.”
Friday, March 13, was the last ‘live’ FBN show for the school year due to the coronavirus pandemic,'' said Brother Paul Hannon, founder and executive producer of WBFN-TV. "Immediately, the faculty of Monsignor Farrell began distant learning by doing virtual classes with our students. It was wonderful to have the Easter break, so I could catch up on some reading for myself. I came into the TV studio each weekday to prepare my classes, and to keep in touch with my students. The worst part of this pandemic has been consoling and praying for my students who have lost a grandparent over the past two months. My classes have joined me with praying for all those who are suffering.”
Hannon went on to explain that, as a senior teacher, his heart goes out to seniors who won’t have the traditional activities and memories that go hand in hand with graduating high school. And he’s sad for the FBN senior students who never got to finish their fourth year in the studio — missing out on the highly popular “Senior Show” on the last day of regular classes.
“I thank them for their service and dedication,'' he said. “Also, I congratulate the Farrell administration, who have been communicating with our seniors throughout this ordeal. I have kept everyone in my daily thoughts and prayers and especially when praying the Rosary.”
Within the FBN studio, Hannon has been installing and updating technology, cleaning, sprucing up and updating the sets and getting the studio ready for Season 22 in September.
Earlier this year, the TV studio played host to several special guests, including, Madison L’Insalata, Miss Staten Island; Gabby Ryan, Miss Richmond County, and Victoria Montouri, Miss Richmond County Outstanding Teen.
LaMorte, an anchor, had the chance to interview the titleholders.
“Getting to do a ‘live’ interview with these local winners was an amazing experience,'' he said. "They showed me what it means to have pride and passion in their work. The entire studio had the chance to understand how the pageants work and the dedication put into them. They told us how to act as role models to others, which gave insight into a career which many students didn’t known beforehand”.
Richmond County District Attorney Michael McMahon also stopped by and granted an interview to LaMorte.
During the Christmas season, the crew indulged in private tour of the NBC-TV broadcast studios and newsroom, and senior staffers took a photo beneath the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree before walking across the street to attend the installation of Bishop Edmund Whalen at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The following week, Whalen returned to Farrell to celebrate Mass with the Farrell school community.
“GOOD MORNING AMERICA” UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
“It was great.” said Vincent Marino, a junior. “The whole experience was so much fun, and getting to go to a show like ‘Good Morning America’ is something that I will be very thankful for, for a long time."
While there, students got to see guests like Taika Waititi and experience Wayne Brady’s first performance ‘live.’
And, interests were piqued by the magic behind the scenes.
After the show, host Robin Roberts chatted with FBN staffers and granted a group photo to students.
“Getting to see every detail of how such a massive production works is really fascinating” said Andrew Norberg, a senior anchor. “The students got the chance to see the control room, how audio and visuals are perfected and all the jobs that happen on the floor while the show goes on."