Senior playing with the ‘big leagues’ of Philly television

by Alexis Schulz

A Rider student recently had the opportunity to enter a competition and broadcast her own news segment on the Fox 29 Weekend Morning Show.

Amanda Dodson, a senior radio and television major, said that Scott Alboum, video technologies coordinator, suggested the opportunity to her over the summer and she sent in her resume right away. She then pitched story ideas to the news director at Fox, and after he chose the one he liked best, she had three weeks to complete a test package.

“The difficult part for me was finding a story because it had to be relevant to their viewing area, and I come from north-central New Jersey,” said Dodson. “So I decided to do a broad topic that would interest everyone.”

In the package she created, Dodson approached different people from Philadelphia and showed them pictures of famous Philadelphia landmarks, celebrities and historical figures, asking them who or what the picture depicted.

“If you’ve ever watched the O’Reilly Factor on Fox, Jesse Waters does a segment called ‘Waters’ World’ where he goes up to random young people with pictures and questions and asks them if they know who or what the picture or question is,” said Dodson. “Normally they don’t know and it’s pretty hysterical, so I decided to do that as my test package.”

After a few weeks, Fox called Dodson and told her that she was accepted into the program. On July 16 she went to a meeting and met her competitors, five of whom were Rider students, Katie Rust, Daisy Rivadeneira, Carlos Delcid and Samantha Crawford, and the executive producers gave her the next package deadline.

“I was super happy of course,” said Dodson. “The thing about this program is that it is kind of like a competition, so all of us are competing against each other to make it on the air.”

Alboum said Dodson’s work at Rider on the news show “The Rundown” showcased her passion and determination to follow a path into the news television industry.

“I felt she would be a great candidate for this experience, and that she would make everyone at Rider proud,” said Alboum.
Dodson said that she is very grateful and had to take advantage of the chance when it was presented to her.

“To be given the opportunity to have my work on the air, and then to have successfully gotten chosen for my piece to air in the number four news market is unheard of for a college student, so it’s such an amazing opportunity,” said Dodson.

The package Dodson created will be aired on Sept. 21 and she will introduce it live. She said her excitement is much bigger than her nerves, and she was delighted when she found out she was chosen.

“When I got the e-mail with the executive producer telling me that I was chosen, I had a smile on for the better part of an hour. I was in such shock and wanted to tell everyone,” said Dodson. “There are going to be so many people seeing this package, and I will be at the news station that morning with the anchors introducing it, so it’s all a little nerve racking, but I’m also so excited and very grateful.”

Making the package was more difficult than Dodson expected since she is used to creating smaller segments at Rider, but she said her hard work is all paying off. The position Dodson could possibly obtain is a paid position and requires a hiring process that she complete after the competition is over.

“Now I’m in the big leagues and have to find stories that are relevant and interesting to potentially millions of viewers, so it’s been a challenge coming up with ideas, finding credible sources and then executing it all while still keeping up with all my classes and extracurricular activities,” said Dodson. “But it’s an opportunity I could never pass up so it’ll all be worth it.”

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