The Final Final
On the brink of Temple University’s Alumni Weekend as well as the 28 year Temple Update Reunion, it’s only fitting we provide you with a look into the past of the program that brought the three of us together and very much continues to impact us today.
It was five years ago on this day, May 5th (so many fives, I know), our class culminated our four (or five or six depending on who we’re talking about) years of work with Temple Update into an hour show.
Watch below if you have the time:
Rob was Temple’s TV Studio Coordinator and Temple Update’s Supervising Producer, Rudy was a sports anchor/reporter, and Patrick was a photographer and director.
Rudy: Even looking back on this today, with everything I’ve experienced and worked on in the last five years, I think this show is still close to the top of what I’ve worked on. And it has little to do with the production value or script writing or anything like that. I think I’ve learned more and more to value that sense of trust, teamwork, and reliance on other people that they care as much about the content as you do, and you’re all on the same page. We had that with about 20 or so people. That’s rare. And all of us put every last effort, because we knew it was the last shot, into this and wanted it to represent all the work we put in during our time with Update, and I’m very proud to say it still holds up.
Rob: Temple Update’s “Senior Show” of 2011 was the culmination of a great three year stretch of my life. After I graduated from Temple in 2010, I was beyond honored to fill in for my mentor and friend, Rick Beardsley, whose selflessness and direction inspired me every day to try to be one half of the man that he was. (He passed away later that summer at the age of 52.)
In 2011, I served as Temple’s TV Studio Coordinator and in that position, I had the great fortune to continue to work with so many talented friends who kept the standards that I had helped to put in place under Rick’s direction the previous two years. The “Final Final” as we called it was a special, one hour broadcast of Temple Update - and while it was probably the best show we all put on in our college days, it was also a jumping off point for so many seniors who were about to begin their careers in TV news and media across the country.
Patrick: What a whirlwind of Temple Update memories in my four years on the show as a director and photographer, all coming to a climactic finale with an hour-long live broadcast. Our final show had all the feels: butterflies, sweaty palms, gasps, laughs, tears and hugs. But it was especially meaningful because it was a full-circle swan song for many of the seniors on the show including Rob, Rudy and myself, all of whom became great friends because of Temple Update.
As Rob and Rudy mentioned here, our mentor and friend Rick Beardsley wasn’t able to make it into the studio that day to send his seniors off, but I hope that he was able to tune into the show to see all of his life’s teachings, advice and wisdom come through every crew member and on-air talent in that final production.
The show was really enjoyable from my perspective because of all of the segments that came together for a 60-minute broadcast. You had your typical news segments, but then the year-in-review recaps (especially Rudy’s Top 5/Not Top 5 segment) were really special ways to bring our final semester to a close. If you have some time, make sure you watch the video above, specifically the 15th minute for my world renowned appearance listing five things to do before graduation. The challenge in producing the show was well worth the time and energy we all spent creating it and gave us the final boost of confidence we needed to take our degrees from the classroom into the real world.
Rudy: You can’t talk about Temple Update without mentioning Rick, and that’s something I really, truly hope the current and future students understand. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this blog, too; to keep that message and sentiment going. I think the added notion of Rick not being able to be there for this show made everyone else step it up just a bit more too. We knew we were a product he put in motion, and we knew he would watch the show. Even the newer people who didn’t know Rick, but were working on the show could sense our passion and work ethic, and I think that raised everyone else’s standards. I see a lot of athletes today using the hashtag #AllIn, and we were definitely all in for that show because of Rick’s teachings being channeled through Rob and Patrick, and then being cast down onto the rest of us.
How The Hour Show Came To Be
Rob: I’ve been thinking about why we decided to do an hour show for the “Final Final”. Most of the times, when you’re in college, the last thing you want to do for your class’s final exam was double your workload. But that’s what made this group different. I remember we had an extra week in between shows (Update was a 30-minute show broadcasted weekly). And instead of using that extra week to relax (OK, so we did a little bit), I remember the producers of the program, Kristina Leon and Megan McNerney, who were putting together the show’s rundown, kind of jokingly said to me, “well hey, we have this extra time and material, what about an hour?”. I certainly knew that it was within everybody’s capabilities. And once we ran the idea past the show’s advisor and Executive Producer, Peter Jaroff, we were off and running.
But I also remember that Peter told us that if we were going to do an hour long show, we had to do it right. He didn’t want filler, and didn’t want the second half hour taken less seriously than the first half hour. He also wanted us to take it upon ourselves to include as many of the graduating seniors as we possibly could (and there were a lot). For starters, we would not use one anchor team - instead, we went with two. One team for the top of the show, and one team to do a reset at the bottom of the hour. All of that extra movement created more of a challenge for the producers and technical crew, and certainly for the reporters and anchors as well.
Rudy: I don’t think anyone balked at or was intimated by the idea to do the hour show. I could tell we had a lot of people ready to go be professionals by like March. So, everyone was pretty comfortable with the idea to do twice as much as usual even with less time. We all wanted to be around each other too, so that was an added bonus to feed off of each other one last time and really give our best. The second half of the show is more of a year in review, which for most last shows is usually relegated to maybe a few minutes. Patrick and I got to do a Top 5 and a Not Top 5 sports countdown which was a really fun collaboration. We tried to soak in the good graces of the year in sports, but also poke fun at all of the stuff we covered that may have inconvenienced us a little bit.
By popular demand, I also got to go back to doing Web Junk one last time which was watered down Tosh.0 before Tosh.0.
Patrick: Not by popular demand, but rather peer pressure, I did my first and final on-camera segment for The List, a task that many directors before did for their final show. Was it enjoyable? Sure. Probably because I talked about my passion for many things Philadelphia. But it unfortunately didn’t catapult me into the anchor chair of a top 20 television market, like I had hoped.
When preparing to direct the show, I remember it took me far too long to mark up the director’s scripts, whether it was because it was a 60-minute show with 10+ anchors, an early 5:00 a.m. wakeup call, or maybe just attention to detail, things went by in slow motion leading up to the start of the show.
But then as soon as the color bars and tone his the control room speakers, the show was on air and we were off undertaking a production no other team of Updaters had done before. The production went fairly smooth with a minor tape glitch or early cut of a package here and there, but once we reached the final frame of video and faded out to black, we could all relax and look back at a show and group of friends that we would be able to reminisce about for decades to come.
Rob: Although this was a group that understood how to newsgather, it definitely didn’t hurt that this hour long program fell on one of the most newsworthy weeks we could ever have asked for. A few days earlier, a team of American Special Forces captured and killed Osama bin Laden, and while the world was watching that unfold on every news network imaginable, what our team decided to do was tell the story through the social media angle. It’s tough to remember now, but just five years ago, Twitter wasn’t the instant news outlet that it is today. I remember thinking at the time that bin Laden’s death was going to be the first major news story to basically break over social media. Our Dan Koob did a terrific job of telling the story about how Philadelphians found out about the mission via Facebook and Twitter.
Back on campus, we were working on explaining to the student body how the Pennsylvania state budget stalemate was affecting their lives - not an easy thing to do. But the effect on this particular budget crunch was obvious. Temple enacted a university wide hiring freeze, which meant any temporary employee was being shown the door, and no more hiring was to take place across the campus, no matter what department was in need of assistance.
Two reporters did follow-ups on an event that affected Temple students a world away. Just weeks earlier, a magnitude 9 earthquake struck Japan, and while that country was still reeling from the damage, and were under constant tsunami watches, we were working to get in touch with those on Temple University’s Japan campus, to find out the impact the earthquake had on students and faculty. In a previous program, our anchor and reporter Jennifer Lee was able to conduct an interview via Skype with a TUJ official in Tokyo. And in this hour program, Megan McNerney and Kristina Leon explored what Temple’s Main Campus was doing to assist those affected overseas, either through fundraising efforts in some cases, or as Kristina reported, by maintaining constant contact with students in Japan and offering to bring them home to finish their semesters back on Main Campus.
All of this is to say that these were major stories our reporters were covering - and they certainly didn’t end within the parameters of our campus. That was the difference with this group. They weren’t afraid of doing difficult things or going to the extra mile because that made a positive impact on the program. Rick would always tell the students (as a way of trying to calm their nerves) that “3 old ladies and a goat watch Temple Update” [so you have nothing to be nervous about]. And while we never really knew just how many people were watching the work we put on week after week, we still cared about getting it right, learning how to serve the public through accurate news coverage, and putting on the best show we could possibly put on. That attitude has served those students well in whatever line of work they went on to professionally.
Update Is Life
Rudy: This show was the icing on the cake of probably 85% of the reason I reflect happily on my college experience. I didn’t have the friends I met at Update in high school or at any other point in my life, and I think these people really let me be who I was (a very weird person), and challenged me to be better. I look back on this show and other shows and still think “Ah, I screwed up there” or “I should have done it this way instead”, and I don’t think I would have that critical eye or motivation to continue to improve if it wasn’t for this people and this playground to work it out on.
It’s no surprise to me nearly everyone you see mentioned in this blog and in these photos is working in TV or media in some facet. I bet they would all think an hour show is a piece of cake (second cake reference in two paragraphs; see photos of me from 2011) at this point in their careers, but I also imagine it was probably one of the more fun experiences in their careers too, and that’s what made it most special for me.
The phrase “Update Is Life” is true, and Rob and I often discuss how it seems to be misused today. I think people like to relate it to the phrase “Ball Is Life” which Urban Dictionary defines as “A term that is used by ballers, that see themselves as the next MJ. They feel that basketball is more than just a game, they believe that it is life. These kids normally have multiple pairs of shoes and multiple pairs of Nike Elites.”
“Update Is Life” does not mean you eat, sleep, and breathe Temple Update. And even though, we probably did do that, “Update Is Life” is an explanation for what Update is supposed to be. Yes, it’s a student-produced college television show, but it is life. In life, you will work until after midnight when you have to be back at the same place in four hours. You will work with people you love and people you hate. You will work with people you used to hate and now love and vice versa. You will constantly second guess yourself because you’re working on something you’re passionate about and you want it to be as good as it can be.
Nothing in college came close to preparing me for life the way Update did, and that has little to do with TV news and video production. If you do it right, Update stays with you in life. The three of us continue the bonds, values, and friendships we have with the people we worked on the show with as well as the students who came after us that we never crossed paths with in college. And that is life. “Update is Life” if you are lucky enough to have been an “Updater”.
Rob: I agree with Rudy’s sentiments so I won’t go on much longer except to say that some of my greatest friends came from my time at Temple Update. The two people I work with every day, including the one I co-founded my company with. I’ll be in an Updater’s wedding later this year. One will be my roommate. Updaters have interned for me. We’ve made connections and gotten jobs for each other. We Skype when we can’t see each other. We talk every day. It’s a powerful bond that will last a lifetime, and I’m very grateful to have been a small part of the show’s nearly 30 year legacy.