LIVINGSTON, NJ – Celebrating 30 years of the Livingston High School Television Program (LTV), current TV students and ever-grateful alumni flocked together to hold a 13-hour telethon event, live from the brand new studio. According to the event’s mastermind Steven Milano, the telethon raised an overwhelming $10,580 that will benefit the future of the program.
While the 13-hour event aired on Comcast 34, FiOS 26 and 28, as well as live-streamed online, donations were called in throughout the town. AM Wired students from as early as 1984 to the current class connected through Facebook to create a sequence that would reference the best clips through all 30 years, while keeping the audience entertained.
In fact, Tony-nominated actress and LHS TV alumna Leslie Kritzer made a special appearance to host the later hours of the show. For the first time in many years, LHS TV teachers Jason Daily, Steven Milano, Hugh Mahon, Jim Smith and Ken Ronkowitz gathered together for Kritzer to interview live.
“It’s so heart-warming to know that so many alumni can keep us in their hearts enough to want to come help out,” Milano said. “My biggest hope is that these kids walk away with memories they’ll never forget and that outsiders will understand why we love it so much.”
AM Wired is an entertaining and informative daily TV news show, which is produced by advanced TV students and streamed to all of the high school classrooms as well as over LTV. The high school recently built two brand new television studios, but the studio is in need of equipment beyond its budget.
Milano said a program of this magnitude was always a mission of his but that it was never the right time. With more than 23 years of experience as an LHS TV teacher, Milano said he has seen the program grow in leaps and bounds since the studio’s origin as a “hole in the wall.” As the kids are becoming more and more tech-savvy each year, Milano said his biggest hope is to purchase more advanced equipment including better lighting and a jib arm for in-studio shots.
“The studio they have now is so different and so great and the presence of social media allows them to get their hands on the new technology,” alumni Jon Aronoff said. “One goal since my graduation has been to get the station to live stream and I think this telethon sets precedence for it.”
A longtime member of the LTV program, Aronoff was an asset to the telethon’s success. His dream became a reality by having the studio live stream such a massive event, but he also got to see the new TV students benefit from new technology and social media tactics.
Seniors Sam Waldenberg and Jason Silberman were among the several students who managed the social media aspect of the telethon. Throughout the event, Waldenberg Tweeted and Re-Tweeted anything and everything having to do with the telethon, while simultaneously supervising the live stream to keep track of viewers, donations and any other glitches.
According to Milano, most of the students who experience the atmosphere of the LHS TV Program ultimately strive to pursue film and media studies. Waldenberg and Silberman, for instance, plan to attend Maryland University and Muhlenberg College, respectively, with majors in Broadcast Journalism, Media Studies and other related subjects.
TV student Jackson Rynar also said film and video production is something he wants to pursue and credited the fact to the LHS TV Program. Only a freshman, Rynar has yet to experience the “magic that is the AM Wired team,” but it is already a prominent goal of his.
“I want to be a part of something that will prepare me for my future but I just love this place and everything that they do here,” Rynar said.
Randy Posner, AM Wired Assistant and one of the telethon’s hosts, is in his second year as an AM Wired student and was proud of what the team was able to accomplish for the event.
“The best thing is the excitement about live TV,” Posner said. “It sounds cliché, but we learned the hard way that when things go wrong, the show must go on.”
With the considerable number of alumni who stepped up to help with the event, the LHS TV family proved to be stronger than ever. Dozens of those who couldn’t make the live event made testimonials from all over the country. Many of the testimonials showed alumni working professionally in film and that they owed their experience to Livingston High School and its teachers.
“Throughout the last 25 years, I've seen TV 34 grow from a small community operation into a world-class teaching institution that has served scores of LHS students well,” alumni Chuck Granata said. “It's been gratifying to see so many talented people find their niche in the studios, old and new.”
Alumni Matt Mazur said the level of professionalism demonstrated on the set was incredible and was in awe of how drastically the studio has transformed. Each alumnus that passed through said they were amazed by the efficiency of this year’s students and how the event could be so successful in the midst of the mass chaos happening in the studio.
“I remember every morning when I went to AM Wired, even if there was someone I didn’t get along with, everyone was able to put personal stuff aside and just have fun,” alumni Steven Garelick said. “The program means an incredible amount to me because Daily and Milano taught me everything I know and I owe so much to them, so it means so much to be in here working with them again.”
"I had such a marvelous time re-connecting with Mr. Lampf, as well as meeting the amazing people who contributed to the program over the years,” said 1986 LHS graduate and LTV alum, Dave Gerstein, who participated in the event. “I was grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in such an inspiring event."
The telethon also showed vintage film clips including Tony-winner Nikki James, actor Adam Pally, filmmaker Rich Tanne, sportscaster Bruce Beck and actor Jason Alexander, with segments featuring popular local bands.
According to Milano, regardless of the money raised, the most important take-away was to be able to celebrate 30 years of an amazing club and more than 4000 episodes of AM Wired. He also said the money donated will allow the program to move above and beyond expectations, but more importantly, producing a show of this magnitude was an unbelievable real-world experience for all of the students involved.
For the next few days, the telethon will be replayed from 11:00 a.m. to midnight for anyone looking to donate or simply interested in seeing how the studio has transformed over the last 30 years. To view or donate, click HERE.