Not many college students can list “Emmy-winner” on their resumes. Two Rogers State University students, however, have joined those elite ranks.
Jessica Ammons, a communication arts senior from Claremore, and Kevin Hoffman, a liberal arts senior from Catoosa, both earned Heartland Emmy awards for their production work for their work on RSU Public TV’s original programs.
Ammons earned her Emmy in 2011 for her work on the station’s “Will Rogers and American Politics,” which has earned more awards than any other show in the station’s history.
Hoffman earned his award the following year for an episode of “Green Country Perspectives with Sam Jones.”
Ammons originally attended RSU to take a writing class for fun and ended up staying to get a degree.
She began working at the TV station as a volunteer and held that position for two years. She became more involved and ended up working as an intern.
Ammons decided she wanted to do more at the station, so asked if she might work on one of the documentaries.
“I started out as an assistant, doing anything they needed me to do,” Ammons said. “I ended up, due to my availability, flying around the country, conducting interviews with all the celebrities and becoming associate producer.”
Ammons traveled to Hollywood, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Louisiana to conduct interviews with scholars, historians and authors, as well as notable celebrities such as screen star Mickey Rooney, comedian Lewis Black and retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Ammons was not able to attend the awards ceremony, so she received her notice via text message. She was sitting in church and got the text, “You now own an Emmy.” She says it feels like such an accomplishment to win this while in school.
Ammons wants to continue to work on producing historical documentaries once she graduates. She feels like winning such a prestigious award will give her an advantage in finding a job.
Ammons’ work also has earned her additional recognition, including two CINE national awards, a Golden Eagle and Jury award for best documentary overall, two Tellys, an international premier award, and a Gabriel, an independent award that recognizes positive, creative treatment of concerns to humankind.
Hoffman started out as a computer science major working in the RSU distance learning office and was transferred to work in TV and theatre. Hoffman said that he didn’t find this career path, it found him.
Hoffman got the chance to attend the awards ceremony and describes the feeling as “mind blowing.”
“When our names popped up on the screen, we were star struck,” Hoffman said. “There’s really no better way to describe it.”
Hoffman controls audio for the TV station and has also become the co-lighting designer.
Hoffman hopes to continue his work in TV and theatre once he graduates. He aspires to be a tech director for a theatre.
This opportunity was one that neither student expected but both are grateful for the experience.
“Not in my wildest imagination would I have thought I would have done anything like this,” Ammons said. “For such a small TV station, we produce programs that make a difference in the community.”
Both students have a passion for their work.
“You’ve got to make the magic happen one production at a time,” Hoffman said. “It really does take a little of magic to make these productions come together.”
Dale McKinney, production manager of RSU Public TV, has seen these two students earn their Emmy awards through hard work.
“Jess has been invaluable working on our documentaries, doing research. Kevin does lighting and audio on studio and field projects, and many other things as needed,” McKinney said.
“They are accurate, reliable and tireless. Television is a collaborative medium. I am grateful to have both of them as colleagues.”
The Heartland Emmy’s chapter was formed in 1986 and serves the television industry in these markets: Denver; Oklahoma City; Tulsa; Wichita-Hutchinson, Kan.; Omaha, Neb.; Colorado Springs-Pueblo, Colo.; Lincoln-Hastings-Kearney, Neb.; Topeka, Kan.; Grand Junction-Montrose, Colo.; and Cheyenne, Wyo.-Scottsbluff and North Platte, Neb.
As the only full-powered public television station licensed to a public university in Oklahoma, RSU Public TV provides educational, cultural and general interest programming to an audience of 1.3 million viewers in northeastern Oklahoma, and the Tulsa metropolitan area.