A small production company in Starkville is proving that the latest techniques in video can be combined with the satisfying quality of life found in Mississippi while extending its professional reach far beyond the state boundaries.
Broadcast Media Group is a Starkville success story. Started by Robbie Coblentz, the full-service video production company entered the Starkville Enterprise Center in 1996 and was the business incubator’s first graduate in 1998. With Coblentz as president/CEO, the group now has five employees and purchased their own building in 2001.
“I cannot overstate the importance of the Enterprise Center. Without them, we would not be where we are today,” he said. “We’ve made the journey from incubator to renter to commercial property owner. With the available technology, we can service clients all over the South and Midwest.”
Broadcast Media Group provides video production, DVD authoring and duplication services. They can write and edit scripts and bring them to the screen whether it’s partnering with advertising agencies or doing it solo.
“It depends on what the client wants. We sit down with them and ascertain what their needs are,” he said. “We create it and give them the look they want.”
The group has shot video in Kansas City, Las Vegas, Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Washington, D.C., in the past year. They are currently working with clients in St. Louis and Nashville.
Getting back home
“When it’s done, we come home to Mississippi,” Coblentz said. “There’s a preconceived notion that everyone leaves small town Mississippi, but in this case clients come to us. We have folks in the state who can do things.”
That’s where quality of life comes in for Coblentz and his wife, Bonnie, and their two young sons. They made a choice to stay in Starkville when they could have moved to Nashville. Before the boys began school, they spent most of their time at their dad’s office.
“That is one of the neat things of having my own business — being able to dictate life on my own terms,” he said. “We can dictate our lifestyle and still service clients. Our clients know and understand the way this is.”
Coblentz is proud of the work Broadcast Media Group is doing, such as the commercial the firm produced for the North Central Mississippi Regional Cancer Center in Greenwood telling stories of cancer survivors.
“It was neat to hear these stories. For some patients, this place is their last hope. People see it on TV and go there for help,” he said. “We’re doing commercials that don’t just sell a product, but impact lives. That’s very fulfilling.”
Another meaningful project was the video documentary “One Night in March” about the 1963 Mississippi State University basketball team that slipped out of town under cover of darkness to compete in the integrated NCAA tournament during the state’s days of segregation. The video was done to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the event and has been widely distributed and shown on public television.
Broadcast Media Group is currently working on a history of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway that will primarily be shown at museums and possibly on public television. “We’re really getting immersed in it,” Coblentz said. “That’s one of the cool things about this job.”
The group was recently honored with a Silver Telly Award, a competition judged by more than 40 industry professionals. The award is for an environmental educational video produced in conjunction with Bill Hudson & Associates, a Nashville advertising agency.
“Winning the Telly is satisfying and validates us,” Coblentz said. “We did this project for one of the largest ad agencies in Nashville. They have a lot of people doing this kind of thing there and they chose us.”
More to come
Looking ahead, he hopes to do more ad agency and television production. Although it’s easy for anyone to get into video production these days, success comes down to being able to tell a story, he believes.
“That means we have to constantly upgrade our equipment and learn new ways of doing things,” he said. “If you’re standing still, you’re not moving forward.”
Coblentz worked in radio in high school and was bitten by the video bug through an assignment to turn a poem into a music video. He began his college career as an electrical engineering major, but through some writing classes decided to go the way of a liberal arts degree. That’s a background he feels prepared him for the work he’s doing today.
“I tell people I have the best job in the world because I’m able to take my love and passion for visual media and turn it into a business,” he said.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at firstname.lastname@example.org.