On Tuesday, April 13, Montclair State University students were given the opportunity to be part of a live virtual taping of “The Tamron Hall Show,” a daytime television show featuring broadcast journalist Tamron Hall as she hosts meaningful and relevant conversations with all types of guests from ordinary people to stars like Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Simpson.
Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, in-person audiences have been put on hold. However, television stations have utilized Zoom as a method of bringing in a live audience, even if they only appear on a screen. Having graduated from Montclair State in 2007 as a broadcasting major, Edelmy Rivera now works as a senior lead audience coordinator for “The Tamron Hall Show.”
“A lot of our audience members have never had the opportunity to travel to [New York City] in the past and this virtual experience brings them so much joy,” Rivera said.
Rivera, who previously worked as a VIP audience coordinator for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” as well as almost spending 10 years in post-production operations for “ABC News,” began working on the “Tamron Hall Show” in September 2020. She says some of her fondest memories at Montclair State were going on class trips to studios or places of work from past alumni.
“As a student I made a promise to myself that if I ever had a chance to bring [Montclair State] students to my place of work that I would do so,” Rivera said.
It was a promise she was able to uphold as Montclair State students Aeneas Bethea, a junior television and digital media major with a concentration in sports media and journalism, and Amanda Brown, a junior communication studies major, attended the show.
“I think it’s very cool that we have alumni that still reach out to their alma mater and give current students a chance to have an opportunity like this,” Brown said. “I’m interested in working in the television and film industry, so for me this means a lot.”
Bethea was also grateful for the experience.
“I’ve seen the show only twice because of my mom but I heard about Tamron Hall prior to this Zoom show,” Bethea said. “It’s dope to be on live [television] and I was blessed to be a part of the audience.”
Prior to the show and during commercial breaks, comedian Tom Kelly interacted with the Zoom audience, making sure to talk to each person individually at some point during the show. Both students agree that interacting with him was a highlight. Kelly even called on Bethea to ask Hall a question right before the show began.
“Asking a question to Tamron Hall was jaw dropping in my perspective,” Bethea said of the interaction. “I was stoked and so was my mom.”
The process began with a briefing on lighting and camera positions for each attendee before entering a virtual room where people danced, sang and shared stories. It allowed for participants to connect with people from all over the country who were in attendance.
Although Rivera says the disadvantages of using Zoom arise only when there are internet connection issues due to severe weather, it has overall allowed for a more intimate experience with the audience.
“The biggest memory I will take from this moment in my career is how connected we have been to our audience members during the pandemic,” Rivera said. “A lot of these individuals were living alone and not having much contact, so it was special that we could be that connection for them.”
Going forward, the former Montclair State student hopes to remain in touch with department professors and faculty at the university in regard to future opportunities, whether they be virtual or in-person, as well as make strong connections with current and graduated students.
“I hope students take away an idea of what a real world career experience is like,” Rivera said. “I also wish for them to form strong connections with individuals in the industry so that they may have more networking capabilities.”