SJMC student Jay Martinez and his band ‘Across the Atlantic’ signs record deal

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s not uncommon to apply for graduate school to buy some time while figuring out how to navigate the career market, figuring out where you fit in. It is, however, rather uncommon that a masters graduate and his band of over five years ends up signing a deal with a record label just weeks after the spring commencement. That’s now; let’s back up to when things started.

Jay Martinez had just graduated high school and enrolled in the University of Texas at San Antonio when he realized that he needed a social group, a small network to enjoy while he wasn’t studying for his, at the time, undeclared major. So, he did what any sane person with a laptop seeking friends would do: posted an add on Craigslist. And as they say in the business, the rest is history.

Well, not quite that easy. Jay said he just wanted some people to hang out with.

“I posted a craigslist ad to see if anyone wanted to come over and play, and that was an adventure on its own. We pieced it together from there. None of us ever imagined this would be a career pursuit,” said Jay.

After sifting through the odd, scary, and off-putting responses, Jay secured 4 friends to play music with him to pass the time, and just like that the band had a name, Across the Atlantic, and his social endeavor transformed into a way of life. Eventually.

Jason Lugo (Guitar), Julio Bautista (Guitar), Jayy Garza (Bass). and Cody Cook (Drums) would meet up and play regularly at Jay’s (vocals) parent’s house, slowly realizing that the group they had formed may be more than a casual jam session to pass the time. Eventually, the band realized that not knowing each other and recording with a group of strangers was a blessing in disguise, creating the authentic and diverse sound that they produce today. So, the band agreed their music would become their top priority over friends, school, and even relationships.

“It took such a toll on all of us, but we all had a common goal to make the band everything we knew it could be. We were quite messy in the beginning, but it ended up working for us,” said Jay.

Starting Out

The band managed to release two albums on their own, scraping by financially and working day and night to promote their music for any sort of return on their investment. But the albums did not make money and would not see a profit for a long time. Even so, Jay and the band continued to write, produce, and tour by using their own dollar and own expertise. Luckily, Jay’s education proved most helpful.

After happening into his communication studies major in his undergrad, Jay realized his passion for communication with an audience, through spoken word, song, or otherwise.

“I took my first public speaking course and that was a game changer for me. I was always very shy when speaking, but I learned that speaking could be a performance. The more I did speeches, the more I was charismatic in my performance, “ said Jay.

Learning Lessons

And Jay never stopped performing, both on and off stage. His time in the SJMC at Texas State the past two years taught him a valuable lesson- never underestimate your own power to market yourself.

“People aren’t going to go spend money on a concert for a band they have never heard of, so we had to sell ourselves. What I learned in class was how important your image is, how important content is, and how important engagement with your audience is. These aren’t practical skills for most, and I learned this firsthand,” said Jay.

After learning that starting a band is not as easy as writing songs and making good music, Jay applied some of his practical skills from the classroom. His class with Dr. Judy Oskam, Creative Problem-Solving, proved to him that there is always a way to navigate an issue.

“I had always heard about how great Dr. Oskam was, but I hadn’t had a class with her yet. So I signed up and ended up learning that there is no problem too large. Dr. Oskam’s help and feedback were amazing,” said Jay.

Getting To Work

Jay’s education and the band’s drive to succeed kept them above water for five years, but things began to take a turn as Jay began his last month of his graduate program. He began to feel the pressure of the financial constraints and began to compare himself to everyone else in his life who had their lives together, a family, kids. So he turned to his friends and family for sage advice, and the result was not what he anticipated.

“The people I went to suggested putting everything (the band) to the side and focusing more on my ‘career’- that was my fire. At that moment, I wanted to prove everybody wrong and that was the inspiration for this album. It’s not that they wanted to hurt me, they believed in me and wanted the best for me and everything they said was true. This is what provoked me to continue,” said Jay.

And so, he wrote. He worked with his music and lyrics in a way that he had never before.

“I went in thinking this is the last bit of music that I may produce. Writing this album was the first time that I wrote with no inhibitions, and just so much ambition. I put everything out there. I wanted to be at peace if this was it. And that sort of mentality drove me to a place where I found complete freedom in writing,” said Jay.

He and the band, who he had not yet told about his reservations to continue with the band, started recording their most recent album in the spring. Knowing that this album may be the last he worked on, Jay felt conflicted. After they recorded the music and were mixing the tape, he let the band know that this may be his last go.

“It took everybody by a huge surprise. We were still in the studio mixing and things were tense for the next two days. No one knew what the future held for the band,” said Jay.

But just as unexpected as successfully piecing together a band from a Craigslist ad, things took a dramatic turn two days later as they sat in their hotel lobby at a quiet breakfast.

The Deal

“My phone rang and the caller ID said ‘Germany’ which I had never seen before. On the other end, a person with broken English began to speak, introducing themselves as a person from Sharp Tone Records…they offered us a record deal! It was so unexpected. We are just so thankful for our producer, who gave us the guidance and advice of how to maneuver ourselves through the ranks,” said Jay.

As you may have guessed, the band accepted the deal and Jay’s decision was confirmed- the show must go on. This summer the band began preparing for their first international tour ever, leaving for Europe in September, where they will debut songs from their most recent album, Works of Progress.

“These songs are so much more emotional than our last albums. Our albums are just so diverse. You can find metal, acoustic, and pop, and everybody defines us differently. It gives us so much freedom knowing that I am not boxed in by any constraints. As long as it sounds good, everything goes,” said Jay.

The band is excited to debut themselves alongside their new label abroad, which Jay says is a suitable start to a new beginning.

“This band was established on the foundation of diversity. It was hard at first to take other influences into our music at first, but different views have made our music what it is today. Across the Atlantic is the embodiment of being open to different people and different backgrounds. I think music is one of the things in life that can be considered as universal, regardless of religion, who you are, where you live,” said Jay.

Works of Progress

Works of Progress, a fitting title to describe their journey and progress, debuts on Labor Day and is available on the Across the Atlantic’s website, Sharp Tone Records site, and on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and Spotify for streaming. Three singles have already been released for your listening pleasure. The band is also presenting a free show to give back to the community that has supported them for over five years: San Antonio and surrounding areas. The concert is on August 18th, starting at 7:00 pm at The Korova in San Antonio. The band is expected to take the stage around 9:30 pm.

The band will be selling their new album at The Korova and it is available for preorder today. Check it out on any of the services mentioned above.

Perhaps in the future, Jay will pursue his Ph.D. to give back to the world of academia, but for now, it’s full steam ahead for the band.

“I eventually want to focus on leaving my imprint on the media market by teaching so that I can be on both sides of the industry. But I am listening to my heart right now and that is what I want to inspire people to do. Don’t ever give up on your passion, just learn to trust your heart and emotions to lead you in the right direction,” said Jay.

It is this passion and drive to start the band that fuels each member today. Follow Jay and the band on their social platforms and Jay’s blog to see what they are up to next. If the past is any indicator of the future, we know it will be an amazing journey to follow.

Facebook                          Twitter                          Instagram

Check out their music video and PSA against domestic violence: “Sundress Funeral”

Advertisements

SJMC Grad Students Got Seoul

SJMC graduate students, Nikole Smith and June Leal, presented their research in South Korea this past spring semester

Nikole Smith and June Leal are more than just the typical Texas State SJMC graduate students; these two jet-setters can now claim to be international scholars specializing in Korean popular culture. Nikole and June were able to merge their love for traveling and scholarship by collaborating on a research project, titled #OppaNoticeMe: The Influence of and Idol Instagram Account on Sasaeng Behavior, and presenting their research in Seoul, South Korea this past semester.

The Seoul International Conference on Social Sciences and Management held its third annual conference in February, which was a fitting choice for these two Texas State grad students when considering where to present their project. Nikole and June began working on this research endeavor in Dr. Rao’s International Communication course nearly one year ago and continued to work closely with Dr. Rao as they added the final touches to their submission. Their research focuses on the correlation between K-Pop, or Korean pop music, idols’ Instagram pages and saesang (fan) behavior.

“As a fan of K-Pop since 2005, I always hear stories about these saesangs’ behaviors and it just blew my mind at the lengths they would go to get these idols’ attentions,” said June.

The two hope that this will provide an understanding on how idols influence fan behavior, a topic that is scarcely covered in Korean popular culture research.

Smith and Leal are no strangers to traveling abroad, both having traveled to South Korea in the past, which ended up being a great excuse to travel once again.

“I honestly never thought that doing a project over K-Pop idols and saesangs would get me back to Korea. It’s one thing to present in front of your classes, but to present in front of other people in your field from all over the world is another level,” said June.

Not only were the duo able to present their research in the homeland of K-Pop, their research was noteworthy enough to secure publication in the International Journal of Communication and Media Studies.

“I would have never imagined that this project would have actually gotten us to Korea, let alone get published,” said Nikole.

These two SJMC grad students can proudly boast that their unique research article can be found in the April 2017 edition of IJCMS, a goal of nearly every grad student of the discipline.

As far as tips for traveling during your academic career, Nikole and June recommend aligning research undertakings with a topic and location that you are passionate about. Once you figure out your passion, the rest will fall into place. “Take the chance and do it! You never know where your research will take you are what things will happen when you travel. You can learn new concepts and meet interesting people, plus new opportunities may be presented in the future,” agreed Nikole and June.

If not on the campus of Texas State, these two can be found sipping on a South Korean favorite, bubble tea at the local San Marcos shop, Kung Fu Tea. As any SJMC grad student or instructor who has had the fortune of having Nikole and June in class know, these two live and breathe their research interests. Have a question about anything K-Pop or idol influences? Stop by and visit our resident experts for some invaluable knowledge about international research. You won’t be disappointed!

Check out these photos from their adventures in South Korea for your daily dose of jealousy!

 

Featured Student Friday – Dorian Parks

Dorian Parks is a Digital Media Innovation student at Texas State University

You may have seen this SJMC student wandering the halls of Old Main throughout the semester, or perhaps sitting beside you in class. Or just maybe you have checked out the website Geeks of Color to peruse the latest coverage of the ‘geek’ world. Well, this summer, Dorian Parks has traded the hills of San Marcos for Los Angeles and the halls of Old Main for the entertainment giant, STARZ.

The Television Academy Foundation’s Internship Program provides 50 undergraduate and graduate students with internships in various media production fields. According to their website, host companies include ABC, CBS, HBO, Disney, NBC, and Warner Bros., to name a few. Needless to say, this eight-week program is beyond competitive and Dorian has proven his expertise and passion for digital media by obtaining this position.

Dorian has been preparing for an opportunity like this throughout his education as a Digital MediaInnovation major at Texas State University. Staying true to his mass communication frame of mind, Dorian recognizes that our communication is evolving every day.

“Digital media is the new way that we ingest information and I want to be a part of that digital revolution,” said Dorian in his video interview securing him the internship. The interview, produced and recorded by the creative extraordinaire himself, provides a look into the vast imagination that Dorian uses to fuel his enthusiasm for making and distributing his original content.

While at Texas State, Dorian commits his time to the website he founded called Geeks of Color, a blog-type feed that covers current news on all things ‘geek’ and promotes inclusion and diversity in the vast world of entertainment. Reviews, podcasts, gaming, and guest contributions can all be found within this impressive digital creation, demonstrating Dorian’s passion for media and communication. Not only does Dorian care about the infinite world of comics and popular culture, but his desire to bridge the gap of race and the entertainment industry is inspiring.

“I am so excited for this internship, I can’t wait to see what opportunities it leads to,” said Dorian.

The internship is scheduled to be starting this summer and we share Dorian’s excitement as we eagerly wait to see where this position takes him in the future. In the meantime, the folks in San Marcos can stay up to date on all things Dorian and geek on his website and social media platforms.

YouTube
Twitter
Instagram

Check out what Dorian is up to next; this SJMC student does not fail to impress!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Featured Work Friday: Kambiz Shabankare

The SJMC’s own photojournalism course instructed by Anna Mazurek has produced some remarkable content! Photojournalism student, Kambiz Shabankare, created this incredible feature story on the Battleship Texas BB-35 and San Jacinto Historic Site volunteer, Charles Smith. Check out his photos and story below!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Charles Smith: Fighting on Behalf of the History

Charles Smith, while carrying two boxes, walked toward a bench near the Texas Capitol building in Austin, Texas. The bench has been his spot every Saturday for the last four years. Smith opened the boxes one by one. He took out, from the first one, a model of the Battleship Texas BB-35 made of wood and from the other one several books and some DVDs. He placed each of them on the bench in an exact order, like every single object owned a particular area.

“I don’t want to be so close to the Capitol,” Smith said while placing the objects, “I don’t want to disturb the visitors who come to see the building, but this spot is perfect.” His spot is neither too close nor too far. Smith usually stands next to this bench, approaches visitors who are passing by and shares his knowledge of the battleship with them.

“It started 30 years ago. That was the first time I saw the battleship,” Smith said. He was 24 when saw the Battleship Texas BB-35 for the first time. On Aug. 31, 1983, the battleship transferred to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and was placed in Todd Shipyard in Galveston, Texas.

“She fought both first and second world wars,” Smith said, “I had read about her since I was a child, but it’s different when you are touching her beautiful body and walking on her deck.” The first meeting turned into a life changing event for Smith.

On April 30, 1948, few years after the end of the second world war, the battleship retired and became the first battleship, in the U.S history, presented as a memorial museum. The days of retirements seemed to be easy at the beginning. People remembered the battleship and her remarkable achievements during the war. The battleship’s presence in several battles like Iwo Jima and Battle of Cherbourg was not something that the Americans could easily forget. However, as time passed her heroic actions turned into the distant and forgotten memories. In 1956, she was commissioned as the flagship of the Texas Navy and was transferred to the Battleship Texas Commission, where her bravery turned into a nightmare.

“I am wondering if they hated her so much, they left her to die,” Smith said while his eyes were filled with a spark of anger. The commission’s negligent act against the battleship resulted in cracks and gaps in coated surfaces, water intrusion and steel deterioration.

“They knowingly destroyed her,” Smith continues, “they could have done some proper maintenance, but instead they used improper colors and materials. On one occasion, they painted the wall on the captain’s cabin and destroyed a historical world map on the wall.”

“I paid 20 dollars every week for the past two months, now I have it,” Charles Smith said while opening the box of the Wonder Woman action figure. The Comic Relief is one of few places that Smith spends time outside of his job and his passion for the battleship.

Finally, in 1983, Texas State Legislature decided to step in and assigned the battleship to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), and by Aug. 31, 1983, TPWD had the sole guardianship of the Battleship Texas BB-35. “It was a happy day,” Smith said, “She was, finally, going to be with the people who cared about her.” TPWD hired some engineers to repair the battleship. The maintenance took five years. In 1988, the Battleship Texas BB-35 began her final journey to Houston. “The problem was people could not accurately remember her anymore,” Smith alleged, “Somebody had to do something, I mean I had to do something.”

Smith always has been a lonely boy. His childhood memories are filled with being bullied by his brother and by his classmates. “I didn’t have a real friend. I was mostly hanging out with my brother’s friends. They were way older than me,” Smith said. In high school, he fell in love with history. “I was alone during the breaks, so I would go somewhere and read a historical book.” Smith added, “there was no one to protect me, not even my parents.”

Lack of protection and absence of a savior has always been Smith’s concern. Therefore, from Smith’s perspective, the Texas Commission’s negligent is comparable to what he experienced as a little boy.

In 1996, Smith, who was working in Austin mostly in seasonal jobs decided to move back to San Marcos, where he was born and grow up. “I ran away from Austin,” Smith continued while laughing, “My sister-in-law was tried to hook me up with some of her friends. I need my freedom.” He already owned a trailer, so it was a total freedom comparing to his experience of living with his married brother. He was free after all and more isolated this time.

Before moving back to San Marcos Smith realized that reintroducing the story of the Battleship Texas BB-35 to Texans has become the only mission he desired to focus on. “They don’t teach the real history in universities,” Smith emphasized, “She represents some of the most crucial events in the history of the world.” Smith’s first presentation, at the Wake the Dead Coffee House, was a total disaster. “I had my video books and my model of the battleship ready,” Smith said, “there were only a few people and I knew all of them.” After showing the video, when people started to ask questions, Smith suddenly froze. “At that moment I understood, love is not always enough,” Smith smiled and continued, “love without knowledge is incomplete.”

Charles Smith lives in an old trailer in Martindale, Texas near San Marcos. “I have everything I need,” Smith said. Alongside his passion for the battleship and a job that pays his bills, Smith feels there is nothing more he can wish for. “I don’t have a girlfriend or wife and my trailer is big enough for my books,” Smith said.

Smith spent the next two years learning every detail about the Battleship Texas BB-35, WWII, WWI and the history of America’s naval battles from 1914 to 1950. In 2010, He did his second presentation this time at the Grin’s Restaurant. “30 people were staring at me,” Smith said. Two years chasing and collecting the knowledge had paid off. “I was on fire,” Smith added, “there was no question that I couldn’t answer.”

On April 22, 2017, Smith has become an official volunteer at TPWD to represent the Battleship Texas BB-35. “No one is paying me to do it, but still is an honor,” Smith said while was collecting his belongings and putting them back into the boxes. Then he walked toward the horizon and disappeared like a lonely cowboy.

Featured Student Work: Inside the Ring on the Outskirts of San Marcos

SJMC student Victoria Morin created this fantastic piece on Boxing Kings Gym in San Marcos, TX for her final project in Anna Mazurek’s Photojournalism course. Check out the slideshow and her story below!


Jose Perez opened Boxing Kings Gym in 2012 and trains boxers of all ages. It’s about a 10-minute drive off of U.S. Route 281, and is located on the outskirts of San Marcos, Texas.

Perez had been taking his son to train at another boxing gym, Bully Unit, for a few years before he decided to leave and open his own place. Bully Unit was also located in San Marcos and had an efficient facility, with enough space and equipment for training the dozens of members in attendance. The head coach began to sway his priorities away from the children, and staying there was no longer fulfilling for Perez and his son.

One day, Bully Unit was supposed to meet with some of the other boxing gyms from the San Marcos area so the boxers could spar, but the head coach didn’t show up.

“Everyone was ready, but the head coach wasn’t there,” said Perez. “My son was in the ring with no one in his corner. We had to continue without him, and when he finally showed up, everyone was already done. He wasn’t there for the kids, and we weren’t going to stay loyal to someone who didn’t care about his own team.”

That same night, Perez spoke with one of the other parents, Carlos Heredia, and agreed that they needed a new place to train their sons. They originally intended to coach the two kids on the weekends outside one of their homes, but after the other boxers, including Michael Coronado who was fighting professionally, heard about their idea, they wanted to follow. Bully Unit closed five months after that.

It started with four boxers, which was manageable for the pair of newly-proclaimed coaches. They started using a friend’s garage that already had boxing bags set up. Then, as people left Bully Unit and wanted to join Perez and Heredia, it grew from four members, to eight, then to 10 within weeks. They realized the small garage was no longer sufficient. They needed their own gym.

“I opened this gym mostly because I wanted my son to have a stable place to train for the Junior Olympics that were coming up,” said Perez. “After that, he went on to win a couple more fights. Then, all of a sudden he decided he didn’t want to do it anymore. He just quit. We could’ve closed then, but at the same time we want these kids to have a place to train.”

Boxing Kings Gym makes no profit. More money is put into running the gym than the owners accumulate from collecting the monthly membership fee of $40 from each boxer. When someone comes to their gym and isn’t able to afford the fee, they waive it. All the equipment, including the helmets, gloves and bags, was provided by Perez and his wife and is made available to anyone that walks into the gym. He and Heredia built the ring themselves out of wood, ropes and padding.

Perez and his wife, Sara, pride themselves in being able to provide the gym for the community. Most of the current members have been attending the gym since it opened, although not consistently. Most boxers will attend for two or three months, then they stop coming, mainly because of the lack of discipline.

Boxing requires commitment, intense exercise and self-control. Coronado, who is 25 years old, was one of the first four boxers to start training with Perez. He began boxing when he was 16 years old and entered his first fight on his 18th birthday: he won. After that victory, Coronado took a year off.

“Winning my first fight was a big accomplishment for me,” said Coronado. “I felt fulfilled because I had always wanted to box, so I took time off. After a year, I realized how much I missed it, so I came back. Then, I won a couple more fights, took another year off, and it’s been kind of a cycle since. I wasn’t focused, and that’s what killed me. I know if I had more discipline I’d be so much farther by now.”

This pattern is seen frequently by Perez and Jorge Rincon, the assistant coach who joined the team a year after it opened. They will spend time and effort into training each boxer, and then they stop showing up. It’s usually for a variety of reasons, mostly time constraints since most of its members are students. For others, the physical toll on their bodies is too much to bear.

Sebastian Alvarez is another member who has been attending Boxing Kings Gym on and off for four years. He was finally ready to enter his first fight and won, but soon after, he took a blow that was enough to make him quit for a few months. He returned about a year ago and is focused on preparing to fight again.

“He lost passion for boxing all because of that hit,” said Perez. “We train a lot of kids and get to the point where they’re ready to fight, and they disappear. For Sebastian, it took one body shot to make him quit. For others, they don’t even make it to their first fight and they run. They’ll get scared after their first time sparring. They get intimidated. We have the gym, but no fighters.”

Regardless of who leaves or why they left. Perez and his wife still welcome them back. They understand that every one of their boxers has their own obligations that might set them back and keep them from fully committing. It’s more than a team of boxers: it’s a family, and that’s why their members are loyal. When they are ready to return, it’s as if they never left.

If someone comes with the sole intention of getting fit, they are welcomed no less that someone who wants to compete. Each boxer, to the Perez family, contributes something to the gym that increases its value. No one is turned away.

“We’ve been here for those who need us,” said Perez. “How long? I don’t know. As long as the people in San Marcos need a gym, my doors will stay open.”

SJMC’s 2017 Awards Ceremony

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication honored its brightest and best students at the 2017 Awards Ceremony in Old Main on Tuesday. Proud parents, family members, faculty and staff joined in celebrating the scholars’ achievements. Check out the photo slideshow below for a visual recap of the event, and learn about our outstanding student honors!

Student Spotlight: Russell Reed

Theater kid-turned film enthusiast, Russell Reed has spent the last three years exploring his love for filmmaking and finding like-minded individuals in the process. This electronic media major is not only a self-taught filmmaker, but he also exemplifies authentic passion in a sometimes discouraging field. Only a sophomore, Reed demonstrates a great amount of dedication to his craft and doesn’t mind sharing his knowledge with others.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Reed grew up in Houston and was in theater while attending high school. As the end of senior year approached, he knew he didn’t want to major in theater during college but at the time, Reed was producing comedy and suspense skits on YouTube. Although Reed realized the skits weren’t exactly Oscar winners, he explains that it was during this time when he realized he loved film and using his creativity.

“There wasn’t anything specific that led me to my love for film, it was sort of gradual. One day I caught myself watching a film, and I started to critique their acting and wanted to see how I could do it better.” says Reed.

Although still undecided about his college major, Reed knew he wanted to be at Texas State University and near Austin’s film community. Starting off as business major, Reed realized electronic media was the best route to encourage his passion.

While still maintaining his comedy channel, Reed decided to make a second channel on YouTube that was specifically dedicated to filmmaking. The creation of ViLITE films gave Russell an outlet to produce portfolio-worthy short films, how-to tutorials, and even camera reviews.


Russell Reed hopes to make it as a director or director of photography one day. Whether it is for films or television, Reed explains he would love to stick to the horror genre but will be satisfied as long as his work has an impact. Reed’s overall goal is simple, to be a great storyteller.

“I love telling good stories, that’s really what it is all about. Capturing the cinematically pleasing images to complete a story.” says Reed.

With no certifications or film coursework, Russell is self-taught using online resources. He explains how this drives his creativity even more and brings boundless possibilities. Every aspect of his life is motivation to continue to create and it is not limited to coursework.

Life as a filmmaker has completely altered Reed’s perception of the world around him. He explains, “I can no longer walk around and have the perception like a normal human being. Just walking around in the world, everything I see, everything I look at and everything I touch is an emotion that can be geared toward storytelling.”

One of the latest projects Reed has worked on was a collaborative effort with the late Travis Green. Although Green had passed before production started filming, Reed and collaborators made sure that film was completed. Reed explains how this project was important to them since it was one of the last projects Green put his hands on and they are trying their hardest to have it showcased through Texas State.

As for advice Reed has for others thinking about pursuing film, he says the the most important attributes are staying confident in your work, continuing to create and surrounding yourself with like-minded people. This recipe for success seems to be working for this dedicated young filmmaker.

Reed’s last piece of advice is that, “Although all odds are against artists, your safe route should never be your priority.”

Featured Student: Ryan Reissig

Reissig Media began with a model Compag computer with Microsoft Paint and games. Mass Communication junior, Ryan Reissig, started capturing memories with his brother and their Polariod cameras.  Reissig Media is a product of the dynamic duo simply doing the things they love.  Last summer, Reissig Media was created after they used a drone to capture real estate footage of their cabin at the Frio River.  The duo produced a couple more real estate videos, which allowed them to upgrade and add equipment.  Reissig Media is now the proud owner of a Panasonic GH4, lighting and sound gear.  Now they have been able to produce promotional videos for RedBull, concert videos for Parker McCollum and weddings.

Q: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced having your own company?
Reissig: “The hardest thing about owning a small business is marketing yourself and finding work.  Recently, I came to the realization that if you truly love what you build your company around, the work will come as you begin to master whatever it is you love to do.  Someone who builds their company around their passion will progress far more than someone who establishes a company for the sole purpose of making money. With this mindset, I have been able to lift stress off my shoulders and focus on making more videos for pure enjoyment.  The more we create and share videos for fun, the more people notice them and send us job requests.”

Q: What advice do you have for students looking to venture out in the industry like you did?
Reissig:
“I will advise any individual to take a jump and follow their passion. Personally, my biggest fear is to give up on my dream and spend my life building the dreams of someone else. My brother and I have progressed more in a year than I could have ever imagined simply by truly having a love for all these components that make up Reissig Media. The more we focus on creating and the less we focus on money, the more progress we make. This mindset applies to any passion an individual possesses and I encourage you to go for it because you will forever look back and wonder what could have been.”

Q: What’s coming up next for you?
Reissig: “On a small scale, we plan on getting another camera soon with an electronic stabilizer and create a branch of Reissig Media that does primarily weddings. On a larger scale, we plan on hiring employees eventually to do work locally so my brother and I can have residual income while we travel and network in other states. I plan on getting a degree in digital innovation and meeting people in my classes to do work with.  We never focus on the setbacks and will continue to move forward. We are excited to see what the future holds for the company.”

Big Apple offers Bobcat Promotions a reality check

By Mark A. Alvarez II

NEW YORK — Seeking to make a mark in the world capital of media, Bobcat Promotions, Texas State University’s student-run public relations firm, took its fourth annual trip to New York City this past January.

Twelve young practitioners were given the opportunity to broaden their PR perspectives by engaging in numerous professionals at top PR firms, museums and the United Nations.

BPR Executive Director Kristen Torrez, a senior, explained that visiting the Big Apple was both a personal milestone and a professional development opportunity.

The Jan. 10-14 trip was Torrez’s first New York visit. She was surprised that it was not as overwhelming as she anticipated. “I thought visiting firms in New York would be intimidating, but actually it gave me more confidence once I got there,” Torrez said. “There was a lot going on, of course, but it was exhilarating. It made me want to jump in and tackle challenges alongside leading PR professionals.”

For Vanessa Mora, public relations senior and a BPR account executive, this trip to New York, not her first, would provide an opportunity for professional growth.

“I have been to New York before,” Mora said. “Quite a few times in fact, but this was the first time I could experience New York with the capacity as a young PR professional. I have always had a firm grasp on the types of firms I would want to work for, but this was a world I never could have imagined. This trip completely raised my expectations and redefined the professional goals I had for myself.”

In its fourth year, the New York trip, created and organized by adviser Chuck Kaufman, continued the tradition of attending a mixer of Texas State mass communication alumni at the host Park Central Hotel, where they welcomed 10 alumni, including Christopher Henry of Edelman and Maira Garcia of The New York Times.

The students got to dig into a variety of subjects from their professional development to simply surviving the hustle and high cost of living in New York City.

The leap from the cozy college life of San Marcos to the bright lights of New York is quite a transition.

Mondy Hobbs, former BPR Account Executive, is now working for Weber Shandwick in New York. “She’s been living in New York City for six months now,” said Danielle Martinez, PR senior and Bobcat Promotions Website Manager. “So, seeing her there made me feel like making the big move is possible.”

Edelman’s Henry advised fellow Bobcats on ways that he believes helped him land a job in the big city. He cleverly sought out a temporary phone with a New York area code so that employers would think he was from New York, he told Torrez.

Actually, Henry is from New York but moved to Houston with his family at an early age. “He thought if he had a New York area code he would be more likely to get hired, and he did. He thinks that was a big part of it,” she said. Of course, Henry was a huge talent for BPR and as an Honors College graduate as well at Texas State.

Apart from getting to network with Texas State alumni, the Bobcat Promotions team got the opportunity to speak with the communications director of the 911 Memorial and Museum, attend a media briefing at the United Nations and visit some of the world’s largest and most prestigious public relations firms.

“I still can’t believe that we had the privilege to sit it on a media briefing led by Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the secretary general at the UN headquarters,” Martinez said. “We got to listen in on real life situations during a live teleconference with a UN official in Mosul. I wouldn’t have been able to read or know about such events until it was carried by international media the very next day. I mean, how crazy is that?”

“Along with the briefing, we had the privilege of touring the magnificent and historic headquarters, from the general assembly hall to the security council. The institution is so full of history, diversity and human rights. It was truly a remarkable experience.”

These Bobcats experienced an unforgettable experience that not only provided insight into the professional world beyond college, but also an experience that would inspire them to follow their own vision within an ever-changing world of mass communication.

Taylor Carfield, a senior and PRSSA social media coordinator, said, “Visiting the 911 Memorial and Museum was by far one of the most somber experiences of my life. We spoke with the communications director and my biggest take away was that in representing the museum and memorial, people’s lives and families were very hurt and torn apart by these events, and the director explained that as a communicator we need to practice doing our job with the utmost sensitivity when dealing with such a tragedy.”

These kinds of insights gave the students a redefined sense of understanding of media and media relations and their place in it.

“After the trip, I felt more motivated to reach for the stars in all aspects of my life, including Bobcat Promotions,” Carfield said. “This trip really taught me to be confident and that if I want something, I can work hard enough to get it.”

After meetings, the students explored the full menu of the exciting opportunities and hustle of the city — the museums, restaurants, theater, Times Square, Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, the subway system and shopping.  By all accounts, there were no shortages of lifetime memories.

“The trip never fails to achieve its mission of developing students professionally,” Kaufman, BPR adviser, said. “Students return to Texas fully charged to take on the world. They are more than simply motivated; they’re inspired. And that’s very gratifying not only for them but for me as a faculty member.”

Emily Sharp in D.C.

The 2017 Presidential Inauguration was one for the books. As protestors, supporters, heads-of-state and average citizens filled the Capitol building and its grounds on Jan. 20, members of the University Star joined their ranks to cover the big event. Editor-in-chief Emily Sharp attended both the presidential inauguration and the Women’s March, while also covering the Texas State Strutters’ performance for the school newspaper. Sharp sat down with us and shared her experience in Washington, D.C. and attending these historical events.

Q: How did the opportunity come about?

A: “The Friday before we left, we brought it up with our advisor and told him we would love to go but didn’t know if we had the funds for it. He told us he could make that happen and pay for it using travel funds that the University Star had. Going and covering the Strutters’ first-hand was an opportunity we didn’t want to miss. While we were sitting there talking about it, I asked if there was enough money for two people to go. I didn’t want my news editor, Bri, to go alone. It would be dangerous and with the amount of stories to cover, one person wouldn’t be enough. Within two hours they informed us that everything was being sorted out by the travel office and told us that we were going.”

march-in

Photo by Emily Sharp and Bri Watkins

Q: From a journalism and historical standpoint, how important was attending this event to you?

A: “Any inauguration, being able to go to that, for many people, is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I don’t know if I’d be able to do that again. That alone was a lot but also the Women’s March, which itself is probably going to be in history books. It was just another thing that I couldn’t believe I got to be a part of. As far as the Strutters’ performance, the university needed to cover something as big as that.”

Q: How do you feel about the backlash received from Texas State students about the stutters performing?

A: “I understand that some people are going to be unhappy about it. I think regardless of the election results people would still be upset that the Strutters attending. Regardless of that, they [the Strutters] get to add to their list of performances that they got to do. They’ve performed in China, they’ve performed at past presidential inaugurations, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was a great opportunity for those girls to experience performing on a stage that large.”

womens

Photo by: Emily Sharp and Bri Watkins

Q: What were some main takeaways from attending the inauguration?

A: “Security was ridiculous. I have never seen anything like that up close. The biggest thing I noticed during the inauguration was the split in the people. Whoever went up and spoke had a huge crowd reaction. There were never only polite claps for whoever was up there. Both from the protesters nearby and the people attending the inauguration, there was noise. It was crazy to see the divide so clearly and see all the different types of people. We see a little bit of that on campus, but it’s different to see it on a national scale of people from all around the world.”

Q: What was the Women’s March like?

A: “I noticed the contrast between the people the most. Both [the inauguration and Women’s March] had amazing people and both had not-so-great people. I was so surprised how peaceful the Women’s March was, especially with the slightly violent protest the day before. We expected to see Trump supporters in the streets, but we didn’t see any of that. If we did see someone wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, nobody was calling them out. It was all very peaceful and I think that was the best way to get their message across. It was huge! It sounded like when you get concessions at a game and you hear the roar of the crowd — that’s what it sounded like throughout the whole city. We were 30 minutes away, walking to our hotel, and you could still hear the roar. It was crazy to see, and the thing I remember the most is seeing the wide variety of ages, types, color — everybody that you could think of to be represented was there. It was something I feel like I’m going to remember for my whole life. Talking to people from both sides really humanized it for me.”

Q: Was there anything that took you by surprise?

A: “The participating peacefully took me by surprise. The amount of security took me by surprise. A lot of people up there [Washington, D.C.] were saying that they’ve never seen that amount of security before. That was interesting to see, I expected to see security but not that amount of security. You felt fenced in everywhere you went, like at any moment you could be trapped in an area. Gates and fences everywhere. They also changed the parade route last minute, so that was a huge surprise. Luckily, we were still able to catch the Strutters. Another thing that took me by surprise was the attendance at the inauguration. The sections were not filled up at all. I was expecting there to be a lot more protesters as well as supporters.”

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say about your trip as a whole?

A: “I’m really thankful that we got the chance to go. just to be able to record the Strutters’ performance. That has gotten so much attention, there have been people who reached out to us and thanked us for covering it. It was a crazy trip with little sleep but it was so worth it to get these historical aspects and bring them back to Texas State with our coverage on it. There were people from all over following it because we were one of the many news sources covering it. I think if people can, they should attend celebrations of different points of view because that’s the only way to grow and understand. That’s why I do what I do.”