Career Center grad returns — with an Emmy

TV camerman visits his teacher at Ponitz.Local native won the award in Arizona.

When Todd Jackson received an Emmy Award in 2007 for news coverage in Phoenix, he thought of the Dayton Career Academy’s TV/Radio production program, now at Ponitz Career Technology Center.

After winning, one of his first calls was to his teacher there, Deb Pitstick. She told him to bring his Emmy in for her and students to see when he was in town. It took almost eight years, but, on Jan. 4, Jackson made good on his promise to her.

He won the honor for his footage and interviews at a Motel 6 fire.

“Todd was really focused on TV,” recalls Enon resident Pitstick, who has taught TV/radio production for Dayton Public Schools 35 years and will retire this year. “He had to take radio, too, but was all about television — in the control room, in front or behind the camera, anything to do with TV.”

Pitstick’s program wasn’t Jackson’s earliest experience with TV. “I volunteered at Cable Access 30 (DATV) when I was 14. (Local TV personality) Jim Bucher taught me how to shoot,” he said. “And, my favorite summer activity was to sit in back of the audience at WHIO-TV during Gil Whitney’s show and watch everything that was going on in the studio.”

After graduating high school in 1984, he went to Wright State University, majoring in journalism, and was hired as an editor at WKEF-TV. He stayed there while he finished his degree, took on other area television jobs, then headed to various stints around the country.

“I worked in Washington, D.C., as a sports photographer four years, then all the camera guys were moved to news. We had all new gear, including bulletproof vests. D.C.’s a dangerous place for news coverage, so I didn’t stay long,” Jackson said.

He moved on to Phoenix, where he worked for 15 years and earned his Emmy.

“I went to Arizona State,” said Pitstick, “and he told me that every time he drove by the university, he’d think of me.”

Although Pitstick wasn’t in direct contact with Jackson, she kept up with him through Ken Kretizer, Dayton Public Schools communication team leader who also went through Pitstick’s classes at the Career Academy. Kretizer now works side by side with her at Ponitz.

“Todd and I were there at the same time and kept in touch,” said Kreitzer, a Dayton resident.

Jackson returned to town and a job as news photographer at WHIO-TV (Channel 7) late last year. He lives in Dayton. He told Kreitzer he wanted to come by and see the program and Pitstick.

“He brought his Emmy in on the first day we returned after winter break, and the kids — as well as Ken, me and our principal — wanted to have our pictures taken with it,” said Pitstick with a laugh. “He gave input to students working on a piece for competition, and agreed to be on our advisory committee. We’ll bring him back to talk about the business and photojournalism.”

Jackson was impressed with the studio and changes. “Over the years, the program has helped put many folks in the profession around the country.”

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Contact this contributing writer at virgburroughs@gmail.com.

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