Students work 53rd CMA Awards’ red carpet, telecast

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Thirteen students from MTSU’s Department of Media Arts honed their skills further recently by working as pre-show or telecast crew members for the 53rd annual Country Music Awards, one of the genre’s biggest events.

Associate Professor Robert Gordon said the students, who are all studying multi-camera television production, were selected from the crew that did telecasts for ESPN Plus of Blue Raider volleyball and soccer games this season.

Eight MTSU students worked the Nov. 13 awards show at Bridgestone Arena as talent production assistants, while five other students worked on the red carpet show production, which preceeded the national telecast on ABC of the CMA Awards. Using MTSU’s mobile production truck, the pre-show was produced by WKRN in Nashville (Channel 2) and shared with 30 ABC affiliate stations across the nation, Gordon said.

“The MTSU Media Arts Television Production program has a blessed relationship with the Country Music Association and their award show production staff,” he said.

Students who worked the awards show included junior Ryan Dorer, junior Collin May, senior Kelly Parker, Becky Price, junior Brea Robbins, junior Molly Turner, junior Ryan Tyler, and junior Ashlee Waldrep. The students who worked the red carpet event were senior Kendrick Howard, junior Jo Litzenberger, freshman Dakota Russ, freshman Seth Sanders, and senior Jess Wong.

Robbins, a video and film production major from Cookeville, Tennessee, said her MTSU training such as working the ESPN+ productions prepared her well for the hectic awards show environment and “how all the moving parts come together to make the show possible.” 

“Getting to work the CMA Awards was a dream come true. Growing up, my family and I have watched the show every year for as long as I can remember,” she said. “It has always been a dream of mine to be able to contribute to the show in some way. This show has meant so much to me for so many years and now, to be a part of the team that makes it happen, is so rewarding.”

Tyler, a junior from Brentwood, Tennessee, who also serves as MTSU Media Arts productions director as well as the MT10 general manager, said the pace of such a large show, with so many moving parts, “would get intense” as he and other students ensured that artists, band members and presenters were transported to the correct locations at the correct times.

“The most intense part was show day as dress rehearsal happened because everyone who was involved in the show had to be on site,” he said. “I did feel prepared. It felt great to be a part of such a huge production, one of the biggest of the year.”

Gordon said he was also able to take some of the students to rehearsals the day before with the show to meet CMA CEO Sarah Trahern as well as other CMA management and production team members.

“This is yet another example of how MTSU gives students realistic and professional experiences and connections to best prepare them for their careers,” Gordon said.

The CMA participation mirrors similar experiential learning opportunities for students designed or guided by MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment at the Grammys, the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Americana Music Association.

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Categories: Events, News, Partnerships, Students

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