The Future is Now

New School of Communication and Media brings the digital world to Montclair State

Photo: Mike Peters

Buzz is building about Montclair State’s groundbreaking new School of Communication and Media, which will open its doors this fall. “Not since the invention of the printing press have there been so many changes in the world of communication,” says Geoffrey Newman, dean of the College of the Arts.

“The new School breaks down the silos of traditional media—print, film, broadcast, and radio—to create the first truly cross-platform media and communication curriculum. Students will graduate with the in-depth, highly marketable knowledge for which employers in this field are looking,” says Newman.

The School’s initial activities will center around the DuMont Television Center, which recently underwent a full technological upgrade to become a high-definition facility with the same advanced equipment used in professional studios, and the newly renovated Conrad J. Schmitt Hall.

The DuMont Center will serve as the key production area for television and video as well as the broadcast home of Montclair State partner NJTV’s nightly news (see below). Schmitt Hall will house a digital newsroom and radio studios, and will be the new home of the University's radio station, WMSC-FM (see below). There will also be space for a broad array of media partners. Plans are also in the works for a streamlined new building equipped with state-of-the-art multimedia laboratories, including a leading-edge, multi-platform “newsroom of the future.”

In addition to first-rate facilities and innovative programming, the school will leverage its prime location—just 14 miles from New York City—to connect students with internship and learning opportunities in the media capital of the world.

“Montclair State interns work at virtually every important media-related organization in Manhattan,” says Professor Harry Haines, chair of the Department of Communication Studies. “Our focus is on helping students become industry leaders who can thrive in a rapidly evolving media environment.”

According to Newman, creating new and stronger connections among industry partners, students, and graduates will be a key factor in the School's continued evolution. To further ensure its success, alumni in the media industry will be actively involved in its development.

The University also plans an ambitious effort to partner with top media brands throughout the tri-state area, creating professional news bureaus right on campus. Working journalists will be housed alongside student learning areas in Schmitt Hall, providing additional opportunities for teaching, mentoring, and collaboration.

Students will also have the opportunity to prepare for successful careers in industry-specific media sectors such as entertainment, health, environmental, corporate, and public communications. “We offer focused coursework and hands-on experience in the industry’s fastest-growing areas,” Haines points out.

Newman believes the school will have a big impact. “Our programs and facilities will attract some of the most interesting communications people from around the world. We’re reshaping our offerings to fit a future that is continuing to be designed and redesigned.”

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Montclair State Partners with NJTV to Become the Voice of New Jersey

Through a new partnership with Montclair State, NJTV, New Jersey’s public television network, began broadcasting its nightly news program, NJ Today, from the University’s DuMont Television Center in December 2011. The University now serves as headquarters for the network’s news division.

“The University is pleased to provide a New Jersey-based home for NJTV’s news operation, helping to ensure that New Jersey continues to have an independent broadcast voice,” says President Susan A. Cole. “This relationship provides tremendous value to our academic programs in broadcasting, media, and communications, providing students with hands-on learning within a professional setting.”

Student interns work on various aspects of NJ Today’s production, from lighting and camera operation to makeup and stage management.

“When NJTV launched in July 2011, we immediately set out to find a great New Jersey-based production home base for the network,” says Neal Shapiro, president and CEO of WNET and chairman of Public Media New Jersey. “Knowing that public television will be integrated into an academic environment like Montclair State University simply feels right.”

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A New Day for Radio at Montclair State

Exciting changes are underway for the University’s radio station, WMSC-FM, including a new location, a professional station manager, and an enhanced online presence. WMSC will move from its facility in the Student Center Annex to a new location in Conrad J. Schmitt Hall in the spring of 2012. The move will give the station greater technological capabilities and offer students additional opportunities for creative hands-on experience.

Station Manager Dick Hinchliffe says plans call for a larger and more engaging online identity for the station, including an enhanced website and online streaming of news and public affairs services.

WMSC will continue to play “underground” music not heard on traditional stations, but those involved hope the new technology and state-of-the-art equipment will help the station become a significant presence in the New York market and expand its reach globally. Already, the online streaming has attracted listeners in the United Kingdom, Australia, and other parts of the world.

Hinchliffe hopes to develop online streaming as a new service, focusing on the development of a news and information stream, and an experimentally creative online service. “The FM signal at 90.3 on the dial will continue to be broadcast,” says Hinchliffe. “But with online streaming, the entire world can listen to wmscradio.com.”