These days, a lot of people in Korea watch Internet Protocol Television (IPTV). There are many IPTV service providers such as Olleh TV and LG UPlus. However D’Live is also a leading CATV (Cable TV) production company that produces many broadcasting programs for viewers. The Dankook Herald (DKH) interviewed Program Director Choi Sang-tai (DKU Alumni of 88’ Class, dept. of Mathematics), working at D’Live in Gyeonggi. Reporters visited D’Live in Goyan-si, Ilsan for the interview. The purpose of the interview was to learn how to find work at a broadcasting company and what kinds of jobs you could do in this field.
At first, Choi Sang-tai introduced himself as a graduate of Dankook University (DKU) informing us he majored in Mathematics. However, regardless of his major, he worked his way to become Program Director (PD) at the broadcasting company. Many Dankookians (Students of Dankook University) who are looking for careers in the field of broadcasting wonder how he could become a PD or even land any other job in the industry. Therefore, the DKH sought the advice from this seasoned veteran in the field.
|▲ Our interviewee Choi Sang-tai (DKU Alumni of 88’ Class, dept. of Mathematics)|
Q. What made you join the DKBS as a student and eventually decide to become a PD?
A. First, when I was in second grade at my high school, I knew I wanted to make my own broadcasting programs rather than become a producer and this dream followed me when I entered DKU. Before I even went to the student welcoming events, I visited the Dankook Broadcasting System (DKBS) offices to sign up as a member. I started as a trainee producer before moving on to producer and then executive producer at DKBS.
At that time, media activities in DKU were very active and powerful. So, DKBS, the DKH, and the Dankook Newspaper cooperated in an organization called the ‘Press Conference’ which operated similarly to the Dankook Media Center does at present. I was president of the organization. Also, there was another organization called the ‘Chungnam Broadcasting Federation’ which was a collaboration between 7 different universities in Chungchungnam-do, for example, ‘Nazareth University’, ‘Sangmyung University’ and ‘Hoseo University’. The participants all wanted to produce our own broadcasting programs.
Fortunately, when I graduated DKU in 1995, the Korean cable TV industry was just getting started, so there were new segments in the industry that were being developed, meaning a lot of job openings were popping up. My friends and I were fortunate enough to enter the job market at the right time. That is how I became a producer for cable TV.
Q. What does the PD (program director) do?
A. Those who work at a broadcasting station kiddingly say the PD is an abbreviation for ‘Pi-gon-han il and Deo-reo-woon il’ both Korean words, meaning the person who works hard and does all the dirty work. In fact the PD is the leader of a program, like the captain of a ship or the conductor of an orchestra. They look after manpower, budgets, and the storyline. The PD should also plan and map out the messages they want to tell to public through their programs.
Q. Can you tell us about any programs you have made?
A. Now, I am producing ‘Culture Club’ introducing viewers to the many cultures of Gyeongi-do. The program is about 5-minutes long. I am also producing ‘Ssangsimji’’ which is an in-depth news report on the region. As I mentioned, all programs we make are based on local themes and content. In this sense, our programs are different from national terrestrial broadcasting such as KBS, MBC, and SBS. For example, ‘Ssangsimji’ has been covering topics important to local residents or the problems in the area. We try to find ways to help improve the problems or suggest a solution suitable for residents.
When I first became a PD, I was producing the show ‘Singing Contest’. After working for 7 years, I produced ‘Debating Square’ a debate program for local students. I also filmed a documentary program about volunteer work among local residents. Our business is supported by government and promotes cultural events or local events important for local people.
Q. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and the success you’ve experienced since you started your career?
A. The most difficulties I faced are from working with other people. As I mentioned before, the PD can’t work alone so they are often charged with resolving differences between people in order to get things done. For example, when subtitling a program, people often have different thoughts on the styles, location and even colors of the fonts. This decision making and progress of persuasion are the hardest things for me. I make the final product after several discussions with people involved in the production after countless, sometimes hours, of mediation. The final work is sometimes not even what I want. Having said that, becoming a PD has been my dream since I was very young, so whatever happens in this job, despite my complaints, I am still very happy to do it. Even through hard times, I’m really happy when I finish the project.
Q. Comparing local stations to public service broadcasting, what do you think is the appeal to working for a local station?
A. Basically speaking, the biggest difference between to the two styles of stations is professionalism. In the case of the public service broadcasting PD, they are often experts in a genre such as dramas, documentaries, or musicals. In contrast, in the case of PDs at a local station, they are experts in their region. They have a value called ‘localism’ and with this, the local station has a chance to connect better with local people. In other words, the localism that only local broadcasters have, help residents feel broadcasters have more interests in their community by broadcasting issues that are important or are of interest to them. Furthermore the programming can continue to develop with the input of locals in the development process. Practically speaking, these variables are only present in community channels. In case of the public service broadcasting, it is hard to include the opinions of ordinary people in the programming process. So communication with locals is the best attraction to working at a community station.
Q. Do you have any advice for Dankookians wanting to work in broadcasting or more specifically who want to be a PD?
A. I think broadcasting is like a small community. There are so many types of occupations in the field, from PD to cameraman, to salesperson or parking attendant. Dankookians who want to work in this field must choose between the jobs available to them. I think it is very important to first be able to answer the question, what am I really interested in doing? In other words, Dankookians should not worry about their department or major not being related to broadcasting. It is enough to simply have an interest and knowledge in a special field including deep thoughts about it. Actually, there are many people in this industry who never graduated with a major from the Department of Communications. Who knows? Maybe your departmental knowledge can be your strength and can help you develop a more specialized program. For instance, if you majored law, you could produce a program related law. Therefore, having different majors or being a maniac in one field, does not limit your opportunities in the industry.
The DKH took the time to learn more about the life and work of Choi Sang-tae. We learned that although the work is hard, he always enjoys it because he is doing what he truly loves. It is clear to us that this was his true vocation and as a result, he has a lot of job satisfaction. As he suggests, do whatever you love and even be a maniac in one field. This experience will help you find your career path in life. The DKH hopes many Dankookians are able to figure out their interests and what they want to do, so like Choi Sang-tae, they can find real success, in their jobs ahead.
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