Virgil K. Reed has been a part of Meridian’s media world for more than two decades thanks, in part, to a fascination with the critically acclaimed and commercially successful 1994 crime film Pulp Fiction.
It was after seeing the odd, but highly popular Quentin Tarantino blockbuster all those years ago that Reed decided he wanted to learn how to make films and videos. He had bounced around to a few colleges trying to decide his future career path when he found his footing in the Broadcast Communication Technology program at Meridian Community College.
“After seeing Pulp Fiction, I decided I wanted to be a director. I liked the way a director can put together film and edit it and tell a story. I knew I had to do something like that,” said Reed, who at the time was studying to be a teacher. “When I found out about the broadcasting program at MCC, I thought this is where I need to be.”
MCC started its Broadcast Communication Technology program, now called Media Production Technology program, in 1995. It was a perfect fit for Reed who graduated from the program in 1999.
The program offers a hands-on education in the field of media production and broadcasting, said Joshua Taylor, media production coordinator for MCC. Students learn all aspects of audio/video production, including filming and editing, as well as media writing and announcing. Graduates earn a two-year associate’s degree upon completion of the program.
“The strength of the program has always been its hands-on nature,” Taylor noted.
Media Production Technology students assist with MCC’s operation of a FM full-power, commercial radio station, WEXR 106.9 called The Eagle, and a 24-hour cable channel. Working hand-in-hand with MCC’s College Communications department, students produce a weekly TV show in addition to regular live sports broadcasting.
Taylor said graduates of the program end up in a variety of jobs in the media including news producers, reporters, directors, disc jockeys, and media relations specialists.
“Our program trains individuals for a wide range of careers in the radio, television, and film industries,” he said. “Also, quite a few of our graduates go on to four-year universities to earn their bachelor’s degree in communications.”
Reed said MCC’s program prepared him for the fast-paced world of broadcasting and the media.
“The filming, the editing, the writing … it prepared me so I was able to go right into the workforce,” he said. “I really enjoyed the program.”
While still a student at MCC, Reed was able to get a job as an associate producer at WMDN Channel 24/WGBC Channel 30 in Meridian during his sophomore year. After graduation, he was hired by the station, which is now NBC, CBS and FOX affiliates called The Meridian Family of Stations. He left for two years to work for a cable company in Natchez making commercials, but returned to the Meridian station in 2003.
In 2005, he became the station’s production manager. He writes, edits, films and produces commercials for the station. He produces the popular Golden Apple Award segment that recognizes outstanding teachers and educators in east Mississippi and west Alabama. In addition, he films and edits videos under the segment called High School Blitz on Fox 30.
Although he has never directed his blockbuster movie, Reed is pleased with the career path he has taken since completing the MCC technology program. Technology has greatly enhanced and changed video production over the years, and Reed encourages media production students to immerse themselves in all the skills the program covers even if they just want to be an on-air news personality.
“They need to immerse themselves in the production end and learn everything they can because in their first job they are going to have to know how to shoot, how to edit, how to report,” he said. “They will have to do it all.”