DAF Media gains new support, looks to expand

DARIEN — Brendan Ross juggles various responsibilities as a cameraman, producer and recruiter.

The Darien High School senior is one of a group of students learning the ins and outs of producing live-stream broadcasts for DAF Media.

“I was one of the first two kids who started helping out when DAF Media started last fall,” Ross said. “We’ve been recruiting other students to help produce live stream and to call games.”

While DAF Media broadcasts are produced by volunteers, like Ross, they are not working completely solo. Damian Andrew, a sports media professional with over 20 years of experience in local news, most recently at News 12, is the one managing the entire endeavor.

“We have this vision of creating a community in-house network and we’ve been doing a lot of sporting events that are high school and community related,” said Andrew, the director of video

production at DAF Media. “We’ve done over 85 broadcasts since September.”

At DAF Media, student and adult volunteers are directly involved in live-streaming and producing content — and Andrew is betting on its growth.

“The way we consume media is changing and I feel like this is an exciting venture by the (Darien Athletic Foundation). We’ve had more than 25 to 30 kids who have been involved in these productions doing everything from camera work to graphic design,” Andrew said. “It’s something we hope continues to expand.”

Started last autumn by the Darien Athletic Foundation, the community organization is now getting some help with its live-streaming service: The Darien Foundation agreed to a joint venture on the leadership and funding of DAF Media.

According to Bruce Ferguson, DAF Media is expected to grow in number of student volunteers and the plan is to eventually become wholly run by the students.

“We’re getting kids up to speed with the knowledge and training they need to be able to run the equipment themselves while providing a safe and learning opportunity for the youth,” the Darien Athletic Foundation board member said.

Ferguson said four members of the Darien Athletic Foundation and four members from The Darien Foundation, a nonprofit that provides grants for technological and capital initiatives in town, are on a committee that will manage DAF Media along with Andrew.

Sarah Woodberry, who became the executive director for The Darien Foundation in January, believes this inter-organizational effort will benefit the community greatly.

“The DAF Media joint venture is very much like the sophisticated, value-added, high-technology projects which were the hallmark of our early years. It’s also educational, which is one of the pillars of our grant objectives and DAF Media puts a real emphasis on community, something that continues to drive the Darien Foundation’s mission,” said the executive director of The Darien Foundation, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Personally, Woodberry has already seen how enthralling DAF Media’s product can be.

“I will tell you I was glued to the last three Darien High School varsity girls’ ice hockey games in which Darien High School emerged as state champs — but I didn’t have to drive to Shelton or West Haven,” Woodberry said. “Members of the community who live far away can share in these wonderful moments via the broadcasts.”

As for Ross, he is looking forward to expanding the scope of DAF Media’s role in the community as he nears his high school graduation.

“This is going to be a huge benefit because now we can do more and broaden our outreach in the community,” Ross said. “It’s been a lot of fun taking part in this opportunity and it’s going to be sad at the end of the school year when I graduate.”