Waking up early to watch the news before your daily commute means something a little different to Devonte Hill ’14. His day begins at 2:30 a.m., and his daily commute is to the KHOU-TV station in Houston.
As media operations specialist for KHOU-TV, Hill arrives at work at 4 a.m. prepping for the morning news followed by Great Day Houston, a one-hour daily program broadcast live in front of a studio audience featuring information on topics ranging from food and fashion to fitness and celebrity interviews.
According to Hill, the program provides a great platform to celebrate and promote Houston. “It’s a fast-paced show that focuses exclusively on the city’s happenings. With Houston being in a top-10 market, a lot is occurring here, and the set can be very chaotic at times,” he said.
As with most live television productions, there is a host of behind-the-scenes responsibilities that must be met in order for everything to run smoothly. In Hill’s case, there are about 200 items that he oversees.
During the live program and commercial breaks, Hill is constantly in motion - preparing sets, moving props and cameras, and adjusting lights.
“I work the light board that controls approximately 200 fixtures that are strategically placed on the set,” Hill said. “Depending on the guest, script or segment, I ensure all the lights are correctly positioned and trouble shoot to keep everything on track.”
With his SFA graduation occurring only 19 months ago, Hill said he’s been blessed to have the opportunity to showcase his skills, and he is enjoying the learning experiences he’s been given. “Initially, I operated cameras for the morning news casts, managed the main set of Great Day Houston and worked in the master control room prepping media,” he said.
Today, he is tasked with doing all of these duties and more. “I create stories for the show, assist in producing segments, write teasers and tags for segments, and cut voiceover footage.”
Aside from his daily tasks on set, Hill also enjoys shooting remote packages. “They are hard work, and usually, they make for long after-hour projects, but I’ve learned so much from them. I’ve built confidence in my abilities and skills after meeting strict deadlines with few resources,” he said.
Independent of his work at KHOU, Hill is producing The D.Hill Report, an online program that discusses social issues and showcases local events and talent.
A native of Wisconsin, Hill wasn’t focused on attending classes in the East Texas piney woods until he completed an SFA campus tour. “After I arrived at SFA, I became comfortable with the campus and community environment. SFA was where I wanted to be, and Texas became my home.”
Hill studied radio and television production at SFA and credits the leadership of faculty members Al Gruele, Casey Hart, Linda Bond, Sherry Williford and Michael Tubbs, along with the mentors he had while working at SFA’s Department of Campus Recreation, for helping him establish a strong foundation on which to build his career.
Hill said his future goals include producing documentaries and TV shows about adventure, culture and society. “The trend is to focus on being the first to release a story; it’s a race against the Internet,” he explained. “But people want to know how news stories ultimately affect them. That type of storytelling is what made television great, but it takes time to develop. Eventually, I’d like to have my own network and produce high-quality content that puts learning, thought and curiosity back into television viewing.”