Florida State University School of Communication alumnus Collin Gaston recently returned to campus to tour his former college and help set up a pipeline for internships and employment with his employer, Raycom Media. Gaston, who once led Florida State’s student section in cheers at Seminole football home games, is now looking to motivate students in a totally different way.
The former Florida State “Mic Man” (1993-95) started his career in the broadcast field as a sales intern at WTXL-ABC in Tallahassee the semester prior to his graduation in December 1993. Gaston also worked with WTEV-TV and WAWS-TV in Jacksonville, Fla., before moving to Alabama, where he joined WSFA 12 News and the Raycom Media family in 2007.
Gaston served as general sales manager of WSFA 12 News television before being promoted to vice president and general manager of WSFA 12 News in March 2011.
Raycom Media is one of the nation’s largest broadcasters and owns and/or provides services for 53 television stations in 37 markets and 18 states. Raycom stations cover 13.1 percent of U.S. television households and employ nearly 4,000 individuals in full and part-time positions.
Gaston, a proud alumnus, is interested in seeing more Florida State students and graduates employed in broadcast television, especially at Raycom Media.
“I want to bring really talented Florida State students to Raycom before any other company has an opportunity to snag them,” Gaston said.
Gaston is part of a group of Raycom executives looking to collaborate with the College of Communication & Information (CCI) to engineer programs that will be beneficial for both organizations.
“I certainly have an affinity for the university and am interested in doing whatever I can to help,” Gaston said. “I also want to catch up on what the school has been doing in the last 20 years since I graduated.”
One part of the developing initiative may be charging students to research trends in social media and news communication for Raycom.
“If you already have students doing research on the use of social media and the way people gather news and information … that’s information which would be very valuable to us,” Gaston said. “Instead of doing the research only in the academic realm, maybe there is a conversation that can be held before, during and after that project that a broadcast group can be a part of. Is there something the university already doing research-wise, which allows students to work on things that are real time and help an industry in its current state?”
Gaston also encourages communication students to delve into all aspects of broadcast television in order to find their passion. He advises they explore engineering, sales, marketing, and news and digital production in order to find the right fit.
In addition to Gaston, Florida State boasts a long list of alumni who are currently working for Raycom in various capacities, including:
- Rob Boenau (B.S. ’91), Marketing Director at Raycom Media
- Tara Herrscraft (B.S. ’07), News Anchor/Reporter at WALB
- Megan Hodge, Weekend Meteorologist/Reporter at WDAM
- Billy McDowell (M.S. ‘90), Vice President of Research at Raycom Media
- David Rash, Director of Sales at KOLD News 13 (CBS)
- Stephanie Springer (B.S. ’07), News Anchor/Reporter at WALB
Gaston is hoping a new initiative between Raycom and CCI increase this list, and give Florida State students the most current skills to prepare the for a career in broadcast television.
“What this collaboration can do is put a light on broadcast television so students know these rewarding careers are available and better prepare students to participate in them immediately following graduation,” Gaston said.