It’s showtime: News Central 34

Have you tuned in to News Central 34? A look at the program part of one of CMU's most intense schools of study.

Stephanie Santostasi and Rodney Harris, News Central 34 anchors at Central Michigan University, talk with the sports anchor and arrange for smooth transitions into the sports segment of the show, Tuesday, Nov. 22. News Central 34 is broadcast live each weekday from Moore Hall on the campus of CMU. (Brady Farver |

It’s that time again — for her pulse to beat just a little faster; for her to keep composed; for those lights to start exuding heat onto her straightened hair. And time for the red blinker above the lens to turn on. It’s 5 o’clock and this is New Central 34’s studio.

Stephanie Santostasi, a junior at Central Michigan University, is one of the lead anchors for the university sponsored news program. Five days a week, Santostasi and her fellow news anchors prepare stories in broadcast format and then for airing on an hour-long live session. Although it may be a campus-originated show, News Central 34 is not limited to the scope of Central’s campus boundaries. In fact, it provides a service to three Michigan counties encompassing dozens of communities in mid Michigan.

“Our purpose is to provide as comprehensive of an effort as we can put forth at covering news that we consider to be important to our audience,” Rick Sykes said, the program’s head professor and part of the School of Broadcast and Cinematic Arts. “We always ask, ‘How can we localize that story?’ ”

That’s part of Santostasi’s job — to report the news in a format digestible for the audience. Whether the subject is pleasant or not, it’s her and the other anchors responsibility to give it to the audience straight as the lights heat up and the camera feeds live.

“The process of being live for me is kind of a thrill,” Santostasi said. “At first it was a lot of nerves but now I really enjoy it. I get a lot of energy from it and giving that energy back to the show is something good I can provide.”

CMU junior Stephanie Santostasi reads over her stories for the Tuesday, Nov. 22, News Central 34 broadcast. Both Stephanie and her co-anchor Rodney spend much of their time before the show checking stories for errors which might cause them to slip up while on the air. (Brady Farver |

Any students interested in providing their unique input to News Central 34 are free to audition or apply to non-paid positions or work to earn credit for the show’s production. On and off-air positions are subject to change with the turning of each semester, so training a fresh staff is something that keeps the producers busy aside from the rigorous airing schedule. However, students interested in gaining hands-on experience with a broadcast field of interest should consider this program.

“The goal is to provide students with as realistic an environment I can create that mirrors the expectations they will face when they leave here,” Sykes said.

This realistic environment requires the recognition of the growing power of social media in broadcasting. With online activity skyrocketing as an easily accessible, high-reaching medium, News Central 34 is forced to evolve. The station has been working to build strong foundations in social media to not only measure its audience base, but to expand the time slot and geographic constriction.

And the business of media is a rapidly changing one.

It may not be long before News Central and its crew does their work for the World Wide Web beyond the tri-county spread.

“There are a number of student media using a hybrid approach where they are partially on-air and partially on-line,” Sykes said. “Certainly that is something down the road that may become a necessary component because it reflects what’s going on in the business.”

It’s this real world preparation and hands on experience in programs like News Central 34 that makes Santostasi believe Central Michigan University provides some of the best opportunities in the state for broadcasting.

“This experience that we can have is really a phenomenal one,” Santostasi said. “You can’t just get a degree; it’s about going above and beyond and getting involved in your field.”

The junior plans to travel this summer to Sarasota, Fla, to intern and job shadow for ABC News producers, anchors and reporters. After getting more intensive hands-on experience, Santostasi’s goal is to become lead anchor for another news program.

But enough talking for now; it’s time to report the news. New Central 34 is live in five … four … three … two…

News Central airs live four nights a week and has a half-hour edition on Fridays.