Education

Harrison Coaches YSU Sports Broadcasting Students

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Growing up in Philadelphia, Guy Harrison played little league sports like millions of kids do every year. But the fun of playing sports wasn’t quite enough for Harrison.

His analytical mind wouldn’t rest until he explored all the important aspects that sports plays, in society. He wanted to know all the details of every job. From the desk on SportsCenter to the playing field to the boardroom, he wanted to understand everything.

“I wanted to know both the business side with broadcasting rights for networks and why schedules work the way they do,” Harrison says, “Who are the on-air talent that is hired and are they good at their job?”

Beginning his second year as a sports broadcasting professor in Youngstown State University’s Cliffe College of Creative Arts & Communication, Harrison says the focus of his research is the roles gender, race and sexuality play in sports. He is pursuing his doctorate in journalism and mass communication through Arizona State University and is due to defend his dissertation in September.

“I know that these issues are political in nature,” he says. “I always tell people that politics has always been a part of sports and will continue to be.”

“We like the fact that he is actively involved in research,” says Adam Earnheardt, professor and chairman of the communication education department. “We know that he is working towards something that can be published and will be applicable to the classroom.”

Harrison attended Barry University in Miami, earning a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting before going to Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for his master’s. He then worked in sports information for Nova Southeastern and later Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he was athletic director of external operations.

“I got interested in sports information during my senior year at Barry University,” Harrison says. “We were experimenting with livestreaming then. I did streaming for soccer, basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball.”

In 2010 Harrison accepted a public relations job at Central Arizona Community College. He soon began teaching mass communications and enrolled in the doctorate program at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. He was then approached by YSU about a position with the university’s communications department.

“We hired him to help us build out our sports broadcasting program,” Earnheardt says. “Guy’s responsibility is to help us fine-tune the program with the right coursework, to help us meet future employer expectations and try to meet industry needs. He sets students up for learning experiences where they are actually doing the work of sports broadcasters.”

The program, started in 2014, will be adding another member to its team this fall with the full-time hiring of Paul Ditchey, a veteran freelance sports broadcaster for northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania who has covered games for the Cleveland Indians, Cavaliers and Browns, as well as Youngstown State.

“Hiring him was important because he is so experienced in sports production,” Earnheardt says. “It is his life.”

Along with the addition of new faculty, the sports broadcasting program will benefit with the construction of the Don Constantini Multimedia Center at Stambaugh Stadium. Among its features are laboratories for broadcasting students to work with real-world equipment, classrooms and a new press box for media covering games.

“The center is like a very large press box,” Earnheardt explains. “It complements all of our sports programs bringing them together under one roof. It could actually be busier during the regular school year than football season.”

Ground is expected to break in the fall, with the center ready for the 2019 football season. Due to construction, the eastern stands of Stambaugh Stadium will be closed for the 2018 gridiron campaign.

Possible careers for students enrolled in the sports broadcasting track include multimedia producer, public and media relations and sports journalist.

“I taught a course in the spring and asked the students what areas they wanted more work in,” Harrison says. “Many wanted more studio work with switches for cameras and audio work. So I designed a studio-based broadcasting course with students taking turns producing eight-minute sports segments. They practiced editing highlights, writing scripts and serving as on-air talent.”

Harrison says the upcoming fall semester will include broadcast performance. Students will learn to prepare for and conduct interviews, do play-by-play broadcasts and can sign up to broadcast Penguins games live.

The program is showing results. A recent graduate has accepted a position as sports broadcaster with WFMJ and a current student is set to begin an internship with the Pittsburgh Penguins this fall.

“We are a team,” Earnheardt says. “Everyone has a role. Guy is leading the team as a coach and Ditchey will play quarterback, helping us with the practical stuff.”

Harrison says he’s happy with the course the program is on and very pleased with the addition of Ditchey to the team. “I want his input on what broadcasters are looking for in graduates,” he says.

“I was more of a scholarly hire due to my research,” comments Harrison. “Paul Ditchey is here to impart his experience on our students and this will also help set up internships. Paul is very well connected with many of the regions professional teams. We will start working together on the curriculum after he starts this fall.”

Pictured:  Guy Harrison teaches a studio-based course at Youngstown State that teaches students to produce, write, edit and serve as on-air talent.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.