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Forget glamour

Dedication, hard work propel USF’s Warnick

USF alumna and PBS39 producer/director Amber Warnick has four words for aspiring broadcast media professionals: Roll up your sleeves.

Starting with Fort Wayne’s public television station as an intern 12 years ago, she worked on live shows part-time before becoming a full-time production assistant. Two years later, she was promoted to producer/director. And since PBS39 is non-profit and funded primarily by community donations rather than big-money networks, producer/directors do it all.

“At school I learned to write, edit, shoot and do design and studio work. That made a big difference, because we wear a lot of hats here,” Warnick said. “I do field, studio, production and on-air work, and sweep the floors if I have to. I work with budgets and clients.” While TV production sounds glamorous, it’s hard work, she said. “People see the on-air version of what we do. It comes off clean and put together. What they don’t see is what goes into even a short 30-second spot.”

Warnick loves the creative tapestry of a production. “My favorite is behind-the-scenes work on all aspects,” she said. “Pulling it together and knowing what we do positively impacts our community can’t be described in words.”

Ideas come from different sources. “Local productions are generally subjects all sorts of people pitch to us,” she said. “When a project is judged financially viable, our Corporate Development Department secures underwriting for production. We can’t create a project, and then ask for funding—that’s not fiscally responsible. We never forget the community supports PBS39.”

Public broadcasting sometimes means a rugged schedule. “I work from roughly 9 a.m.-5 p.m., but during fund drives I could work until 11:30 at night. There are plenty of crazy hours and special events, and you do it for the good of the station. Fortunately, we believe in the mission and jump in.”

Alumni VideosShe enjoys overseeing the underwriting. “I go places I’d never go ordinarily, visiting all sorts of businesses,” she said. “I’ve lived in Fort Wayne my entire life, but my career enables me to experience the community in a new way.”

USF prepared her to excel. “When I started, the TV/film studio was in the basement of Bonaventure Hall (now Pope John Paul II Center),” she said. “Three years later, the Rolland buildings were acquired and renovated, so I helped move the studio there as part of my senior apprenticeship. That was very helpful at PBS39. Since we rely on grants and donations, sometimes our equipment needs a little more ‘TLC’ than something brand-new. My early technology grounding helped me troubleshoot things instead of relying on someone else.”

USF had everything she wanted. “The Christian atmosphere lined up with where I was,” she said. “The environment was laid back. It was small, close-knit and I could play volleyball at the collegiate level. I loved the sense of community and my adviser, Jane Martin. The staff genuinely supported my success and would help if I struggled. And I’m eternally grateful for the financial support. Without it, I may not have experienced Saint Francis or be where I am today.”

She tells students, “You can do what you dream of, but sometimes you take smaller jobs to get the big ones. You probably won’t just jump into your dream job. But being prepared, experienced and open-minded can take you a long way.”

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