Education CHS broadcast team ranked top in state | The Cullman Tribune


CHS broadcast team ranked top in state

Bishop Lee on the Cullman High School Broadcast Network’s virtual set / John Drake

CULLMAN - Did you know that Cullman High School (CHS) has its own broadcast network?  It does, and it’s really something.  Recently, the school’s faculty-led and student-staffed broadcast team, the Cullman High School Broadcast Network, was recognized as the top team in the state by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

CHS’ network is part of the NFHS’ School Broadcast Program (SBP), which provides schools a means to livestream school events, and provides students a hands-on introduction to the world of broadcasting, via the federation’s network.

On its website, the NFHS says, “A significant factor in the expansion of the (NFHS) Network has been the SBP, which last year gave more than 1,400 schools the opportunity to produce and stream live content for the Network. Schools that become part of the SBP can showcase not only their school’s athletic events, but any school activities ranging from band competitions to graduation ceremonies.

“The SBP also gives students interested in production and broadcast journalism a chance to gain experience and display their talent on the national stage, something that was largely unavailable to them previously.”

Schools involved in the SBP can be recognized for excellence in their work through the awarding of “Select” and “Elite” status to high-performing schools.  Recently, CHS was named an Elite School, the only school in Alabama to receive that rating.

The Tribune contacted CHS’ program director John Drake for more information about what he and his students are doing.

Who are the members of your broadcast team?

“The members of my broadcast team are primarily current students.  Last year’s students that have graduated were Abbie Kate Hancock, Caleb Coley, Wheeler Eastman, Carter Bowen, Noah Fondren, Ann Carol Braswell, Lexi Clemons, John Brown, Isabella Gardner, Zachary Bell, Bishop Lee, Alyssa Pylant and Clay Tomlin.  Abbie Kate Hancock is studying broadcast communication at Mississippi State University.  Lexi Clemons is studying graphic art and design at Spring Hill in Mobile. Lexi designed our Cullman High School Broadcast Network Logo.

“My returning students from last year’s broadcast team are Kacy Burroughs, Dawson Culver and Carley Byerley.  Our new broadcast students to the Cullman High School Broadcast Network (CHSBN) team are Isabella Allred, Nicholas Braswell, Hayden Henderson, Caroline Hollingsworth, Ben Hollis, Elijah Kilpatrick, Matthew Brock, Cole Lawrence, Jady Pipes, Alex Stansell, Ninfa Moreno, Ethan Hendrix and Austin Stricklin. In addition, I have 20 more students that have signed up the first week of school wanting to be a part of our broadcast network.”

How long have you been involved in the SBP?

“We became involved with the SBP/NFHS on January 28, 2016, when we broadcast our first sporting event.  It was a home basketball game against Decatur.  I actually became involved in TV production and multimedia production when I taught at Wallace State approximately 15 years ago.  I then had the opportunity to teach television production in 2006 at Cullman High School when CHS needed a teacher to manage the on-campus television station and teach multimedia and television production.

“We knew about the SBP/NFHS network a few years back, but things did not come together for us until early 2016.  I actually had four seniors at that time that kept pushing me to livestream. They kept telling me that I had promised to let them broadcast sporting events via the internet before they graduated.  Spencer Allen, Fred Craft, Mason Felps and Griffin McCravy were those four seniors that were responsible for getting us on air for the first time.  They graduated in 2016 and will still make an appearance to help us broadcast some events even now.  All four of them are currently working full-time or part-time in the multimedia business world.  Mason and Griffin are doing primarily audio production, while Spencer is doing a combination of video and audio production.  Fred is currently working at WBTV 3 in Charlotte as a field reporter after graduating from the Connecticut School of Broadcasting in Charlotte.”

What has participating in the program done for the school or for your students?

“Participating in the program has been an incredible experience for my students and Cullman High School.  My students get hands-on, real-world experience.  They get to be producers, editors, commentators, camera operators and technical directors.  They get experience at troubleshooting when equipment fails and situations get hectic.  They also get to be on-air talent and get experience at producing commercials and graphics. 

“The school and community get exposure all over the world.  We are not just viewed locally, we are literally accessible anywhere in the world.  People all over the world can see what a great school Cullman High School is and get to be involved in our events.  I have had many people tell me that they are so thankful that we are doing this because it allows them to keep up with Cullman High School’s events even when they cannot be here in person.  This is, hands down, one of the best programs that me, this school, and my students could ever be involved in.”

What does it mean to be named an Elite School?

“Being named an Elite school is exciting.  I did not see it coming.  I did not even know there was such an honor until we were awarded it.  To me, this makes the Elite School award even better for us, because we just decided to work extra hard to make the Cullman High School Broadcasting Network as good as possible, not even knowing that we could gain an award or recognition. 

“Of course, I am very honored that my students earned this.  If it wasn’t for my students being willing to work extra hours and work so hard, we could not have accomplished this.  I also have to give credit to my administrators.  My students and I had a vision, but it can never be accomplished without the full support of administrators.  We are not only supported from the top down, but we are enthusiastically supported.  I cannot thank them enough.  That always gives you a lot of confidence that anything can be accomplished. 

“It’s also very exciting that we were the only school in Alabama to receive this award this year.  I really want people to know that I have a great group of students to work with at Cullman High School.  They get excited about broadcasting and they want to learn.  It is easy to get motivated and want to do well when my students want the same. 

“I am excited about the future of our livestreaming network.  We are gaining momentum and people are very excited about it.  We have a great group of sponsors this year and we are looking forward to showcasing them on CHSBN too! 

“We are very thankful for our sponsors.  This year’s sponsors are Buffalo Wild Wings, ERA Waldrop Real Estate, Johnny’s Bar-B-Q, Kathy Sims-ALFA Insurance, McGriff Tire Pros, Mitch Smith Chevrolet, People’s Bank of Alabama and Premier Bank of the South.  Because of these sponsors, any Cullman High School supporter can view all of our regular season sporting events and any of our extracurricular events for free.  I also have to thank the NFHS, SBP and the AHSAA.  They have supported us immensely.  I am very blessed.”

Those interested in following Cullman on the NFHS Network can create a free account at  The AHSAA does require a $9.95 monthly pass for post-season games.  This pass allows three devices to be logged on simultaneously during an event.

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