Chance to host ‘GMF’ draws dozens to auditions


Photo: Nicholas Shupe

Senior Brad Steel and sophomore Sammie Webb present the news and announcements live on “Good Morning Fairmont.”

Many high school students join organizations so they can be a part of something while still blending in with the crowd. Others seek leadership roles in groups so they can play a much more prominent role.

But how many teens are brave enough to want to perform live in front of their peers each week? The answer:  more than Laura Hutchens expected.

This year, more than 60 students auditioned to host Good Morning Fairmont, the TV show that is broadcast throughout the high school each Friday morning. Hutchens, the Interactive Media teacher behind the production, said the sudden wave of interest this year was much different than it has been in the past.

“We felt there were a lot of people who wanted to do it, so that’s why we did the auditions,” said Hutchens. “Most of the people who came I didn’t even know – I hadn’t had them in class, and I never talked to them before. They just showed up.”

3But why such a huge interest this year? The answer comes from last year, specifically from Sam Bodary and A.J. Breslin, the hosts who graduated last year. “What A.J. and Sam created last year made Good Morning Fairmont something people wanted to participate in,” said Hutchens. “Because of their chemistry, they livened up the show and everyone was like ‘I want to do that.’”

The tryouts were held to choose the two best candidates of all of the interested students.  Years ago, the media instructors didn’t hold auditions but already knew who they wanted for the job. However, Hutchens said the auditions “make it even” for everyone to have an opportunity. In the 5 years since auditions started, Hutchens said usually only about 10 people show up. This year, the dozens of students who took the initiative to try out had a shot at hosting. “If you’re willing to show up and do the work and you’re halfway decent, we’re going to give you a shot,” said Hutchens.

The students who auditioned were filmed at the desk with a partner and had to perform a cold read, which means they got a script and went live 30 seconds later. Students also had to show they could make the announcements flow and tie them in with life and other activities at Fairmont. In the next step, the two-person teams were given field cameras and did interviews with each other to further test their abilities in front of the camera.

After everyone was filmed, a committee of about five faculty members had the final decision. Senior Brad Steel and sophomore Sammie Webb won the hosting spots.

“It was an honor to be chosen, but there were a lot of good candidates,” Steel said. He admits, however, that he was a bit puzzled when Webb got the other spot as host. “I was a little apprehensive and a little nervous because she was a sophomore.”

Many may have viewed the host jobs being limited to seniors, but Hutchens says that’s just a rumor and grade level isn’t a factor in the selection. Steel didn’t know Webb before they were named hosts, but he now appreciates what she brings to the show. “Sammy is a lot of fun, she’s energetic, and she’s spicy,” he said.

After the two got past their grade differences, they had to face their first time on camera. Both admitted to being nervous, but they said it gets easier. “It was nerve-racking, but you learn to control your nerves,” Steel said.

Webb said she didn’t think she had much of a chance of getting a host spot because she’s a sophomore, but she wanted to get involved. “I like making people laugh and smile,” she said. “It’s all about having a good time.”

Sometimes working with another person can be difficult, but Webb says it’s easy to work with Steel. “He’s really nice, and he does a lot of stuff,” said Webb. “I’m happy to be around him.”

Now that they’ve been at it for several weeks, the GMF hosts are settling into a rhythm.“I really like doing the show,” Webb said. “I enjoy the people, the crew and Hutch.”

Hutchens is happy with her new hosts but acknowledges that the decision to pick them wasn’t easy. “Of all the kids who tried out, 40 of them could have been decent on camera and I could have worked with them,” said Hutchens. In fact, she said 10 other students were selected to start a show on a second day sometime this fall.

Hutchens added that Fairmont students who are still interested in being involved in production (filming, editing, etc.) should come see her in the Media Room in the Career Tech hallway.