By: Alix Hines
Former middle school television station manager Brandon Agee is pursuing a career on the “Today Show.” Although Agee became a TV station manager at age 13 to producing the morning announcements, that break quickly led a greater chance for him to join a major news show after he graduates from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Looking back, Agee describes himself as an outgoing student in seventh grade. For most seventh graders, the morning announcements are just a routine, but for Agee the morning announcements placed him on the path to becoming a journalist. Agee recalls signing up to do the morning announcements because a few of his friends were doing it, but after becoming involved, he found the job exciting. He was eventually promoted to station manager in eighth grade and received the Distinguished Service Award for his work.
“A bunch of my buddies had done it (the announcements) and got to get out of class so I was like I want to do it!” Agee says “Plus being on camera wasn’t a big deal because I wasn’t nervous.”
From the morning announcements, Agee’s interest in journalism blossomed. Growing up in Charlottesville, Va. allowed Agee to continue learning about journalism. He interned at CPA-TV in Charlottesville where he set up lighting, used robotic cameras and helped direct the the station’s programming. The small setting gave Agee hands-on experience in journalism. Agee readily accepted every chance to gain exposure in the field. He attended a camp at Virginia Tech the summer before his senior year of high school, and taking the design track, which explored newspaper layouts. Later he used his camp experience to help redesign “The Revolution,” Albemarle’s school newspaper.
Although Agee explored two other universities he was convinced that VCU presented the best environment to explore journalism. Here at VCU Agee teamed up with one of his friends from high school, Tommy Lopez, and another student journalist Ryan Murphy, to expand the Student Media Center. They created a sports website called Rams Review. Agee is the executive director of production and is responsible to recording and editing segments. The group produces a segment called the “Weekly Rewind,” which reviews VCU’s athletic performances throughout the week from the student perspective. Agee said his experiences in high school enabled him to have the skills to be able to film various sports and edit them quickly for appearances on the “Weekly Rewind.”
“His (Agee’s) prior experience in television and in videography has been instrumental in our progression as a group from both a product and teaching perspective.” says Lopez. “Without Brandon’s efforts, we would be lacking much of our know-how and professionalism.”
From there the team created two other sites, The Horn and Shafer Bird. The Horn is a website that focuses on music in Richmond, from both mainstream and upcoming groups. Shafer Bird is a website dedicated to critiquing food on the VCU campus and surrounding areas. The websites’ name is derived from the infamous bird that appears in Shafer, and of course students eating in Shafer all have something to say about the food.
Each website is a part of Mesh Media, a division of VCU’s Student Media. The sites offer students news and information happening on campus from the student perspective. These websites are an interactive way of getting students involved on campus and in the community.
“I would advise students to get their foot in the door as early as they can either in high school or right when they get to college.” Agee says, “Having prior experience is very helpful in class and as far as other organizations.”
As a child Agee grew up watching the “Today Show” with his mom every morning. He wants to work as a director or producer for the morning show. Agee is optimistic that broadcast journalism remains strong. Although the “Today Show” would be his first choice, Agee is also interested in ESPN, given his experience as a soccer goalie for Albemarle High School.
“If I could interview anyone it would be Tony Meola,” says Agee, “because he was one of the most famous professional soccer goalies while I was growing up.”