BTC and BIG launch new broadcast program



Garry Frazier from the Brookline Teen Center, senior Charlotte O’Neil and State Representative Tommy Vitolo cover the Feb. 3 varsity basketball doubleheader as the pilot of the new broadcasting program with Brookline Interactive Group.

As parents, friends and teachers cross the Schluntz Gymnasium for a rival basketball game on Feb. 3, there is a new sight from the usual crowd: three broadcasters sitting at a table in between the two bleachers, ready to commentate for audiences in and beyond the gym.

The Brookline Teen Center (BTC) and Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) started a broadcasting program this January that hopes to introduce students to the field of sports media through a welcoming environment. While still unnamed, the program is currently composed of teens working together to televise the high school’s sports.

The program was piloted on Friday, Feb. 3 at a varsity basketball doubleheader game against Newton North. The BTC ran play-by-play recounts of the game while BIG was working on the technology behind the scenes. Some of the people involved included Garry Frazier from BTC, State Representative Tommy Vitolo and senior Charlotte O’Neil, with sophomore Blake Samstad and senior Eliot Arnold working cameras.

Interim BTC Director Paul Epstein said the program originally started because he wanted to bring people who loved sports together.

“Sports is an amazing thing. Everyone that loves sports is bonded together as ‘sports nuts,’” Epstein said. “As a social worker who loves working with kids and sports, I’m always looking for ways to combine the two.”

O’Neil plans to major in sports journalism in college and said the program is great for youth who are interested in sports media.

“If people have any interest in sports journalism, whether that be learning how to report, public speaking or all the stuff behind the camera, like the technology that we have to use, they should join. These interests are not separate things; it’s a combined thing to have people learn through the program how to be broadcasting throughout high school,” O’Neil said.

When the program started there was only 30 days of planning between the first meeting and the game. With no funding, the program was completely volunteer-powered and Epstein said it was an impressive team effort from all parties involved.

Executive Director of BIG Kathy Bisbee said because she was a young athlete and broadcast journalism major in college, she wants to make that area more accepting towards women and minorities.

“When I was little, I was the only girl on my little league baseball team. It’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about equal opportunity for women and girls. As women, we’re not seen in sports. Our voices and our perspectives are not being heard,” Bisbee said. “We’re also not at the top level in terms of hiring and at the executive level. I want to make sure that women and girls, including non-binary youth, are wanting to participate in programs that have previously not been a super welcoming space.”

O’Neil said the broadcasting program wants to display the sports that are less appreciated by students.

“We want to try to bring awareness to every sport that Brookline has, whether that’s through broadcasting them, taking pictures or making highlight videos. We want to bring more attention and awareness to the sports that seem to get overpowered by the really popular ones—we want to go take photos of people at track or cross country so those athletes can get the attention they deserve in the sport,” O’Neil said.

Although the program is fairly new, Bisbee said they already have ideas on how to improve and expand it.

“We have curricula that we’ve developed around all of the media work that we do, some of them specific to sports broadcasting,” Bisbee said. “We did this pilot program this winter and then this summer we’re going to run a sports broadcasting camp. It’ll be a week-long program to train young people on sports broadcasting specifically.”

Epstein said that he hopes the BTC and BIG will look into developing more programs in the future as he thinks there is so much more that could be done with sports broadcasting.

“We’re just scratching the surface of what can be done with sports media for Brookline High, and this is serving two or more amazing purposes. It allows the spotlight to be shined on the athletes, because let’s face it, at Brookline High our sports culture is a work in progress. The second thing is this is an incredible experience for kids in the career path of broadcast journalism, specifically with sports, they’re getting real world experience,” Epstein said.

Bisbee said that she wants the program’s welcoming nature to encourage more people to consider joining.

“We try to help everybody make sure they feel safe and comfortable and can ask questions—it’s really important for people to feel like they belong,” Bisbee said. “In a community group like BIG, everyone belongs here and we want to make sure there’s a lot of space for the underrepresented, especially in media and in sports.”