Terry Bernal/Daily Journal
Jim Petromilli, left, and Rich Tidd man the production booth for Skyline baseball’s live internet TV broadcasts.
“This guy must be a base stealer. They’re spending a lot of time on him here,” Jim Petromilli says into his headset. “It’s a bunt! Get on him! Get on him!”
Petromilli’s instructions during Skyline’s April 17 baseball game against Cabrillo were exacted from his control console in the Carl Vallero Press Box at the Skyline College Baseball Diamond. A Skyline professor of electronics and communications, Petromilli is in the process of fine tuning a pet project several years in the making.
With the vision of Petromilli, and approximately $30,000 in Skyline College monies, the community college’s athletics program has integrated fully functional television-style live streaming internet broadcasts into its basketball and baseball games, for which Petromilli serves as executive producer.
And after the bunt play on which Petromilli chimes directions to two of three cameramen, Timo Chavez and Derrick Gorospe — who work atop opposing dugouts amid the multi-camera broadcast — Petromilli kicks it back to Will King on the camera behind home plate with a casual: “Alright Will, back to you.”
Petromilli is accustomed to making big tech-media strides from behind the scenes.
Since he assisted Cupertino Electric, Inc. in wiring College of San Mateo’s football facility for audio, he has installed audio systems at many a San Mateo County athletic facility, including CSM’s Bulldog Field, Woodside High School’s football stadium and the Skyline gymnasium.
In his first foray into television, using the internet service UStream.tv, Petromilli has overseen six Skyline basketball and three baseball broadcasts.
“We’re learning as we go forward here,” Petromilli said. “Every sport has its challenges. And we’re getting good audiences.”
For Skyline baseball’s maiden voyage on the fiber-optic television waves April 3, the broadcast netted 92 live views. Using history as a guide, Petromilli expects the archived broadcasts to grow views exponentially.
The streaming broadcasts were born two years ago as a way to air Skyline College’s 2012 graduation ceremony. With the ceremony taking place in the gym with limited seating, streaming video allowed family and friends, who could not secure a ticket, an opportunity to witness the ceremony.
According to Petromilli, the graduation ceremony got 120 live views, with the archived version gaining 546 views. In 2013, they again used the technology to broadcast graduation, with 220 live online views and 949 post views.
“I was amazed,” Petromilli said. “We had no idea. We had done it initially to put into classrooms on campus so people could come in … and watch graduation and they could cheer and all that stuff. We didn’t think we had any viewers and it kind of took off.”
It was then the enterprising Petromilli, who had worked to bring internet radio broadcasts to local community college baseball games in recent years, turned the idea loose on the school’s sports community.
“I knew after the first event that we were on to something,” Petromilli said.
The baseball broadcasts utilize three high definition cameras — Sony HXR-NX5U models — which run approximately $3,300 apiece.
But the broadcasts’ driving force is play-by-play man Jason Neil. A 2013 San Francisco State grad, Neil’s baseball-game calls are reminiscent of a young Hank Greenwald and he has compiled a strong resume in his young career.
Neil’s first venture into community college sports was fronting radio broadcasts for CSM football. He previously served as sports manager at KSFS where he broadcasted baseball, basketball, soccer and volleyball games. As a student intern, he worked at KNBR and 107.7 The Bone, and has even been on the air with legendary radio personality Steven Seaweed.
This is Neil’s first live television gig though. And he’s in the running with current Skyline baseball public-address announcer Dino Landucci as one of the best voices to be heard in the Trojans’ baseball press box in quite some time.
“I’ve done it where we edit it and post it online,” Neil said. “But we get tons of (live) viewers with this online.”
The nine games Petromilli has produced this scholastic year are merely something of a warm-up though, as the broadcast team is ironing out the system to launch a regular operation for high school and college football in the fall. But the design, with using UStream.tv as its server, is to keep the broadcasts free going forward, according to Petromilli.
“We do not want to charge people,” he said. “Some schools think this is a cash cow and it may be. But we want to serve the people for free.”
Working as engineer for the crew is longtime Skyline tech guru Rich Tidd, who, along with Petromilli, is still trying to hammer out instant replay for the broadcasts.
“We have an instant replay machine, but we don’t know how to use it yet,” Petromilli said.
The system will be utilized for educational purposes on campus as well. The next broadcast will take place April 24 when author Tim Wise holds a lecture on campus. And on April 30, the system will broadcast a guest lecture by famed activist Cornel West.
“We’re expecting a huge audience for that because he’s a very popular speaker,” Petromilli said. “And you can watch him on the internet for free.”
Baseball broadcasts can be found at UStream.tv by typing “Skyline College Baseball” into the website’s search field. The final live baseball broadcast aired Tuesday for Skyline’s final home game of the season against Hartnell.