BROWNSVILLE, Texas – The CEO of the Space Channel, which has its global news headquarters in Brownsville, says there is no reason the Rio Grande Valley cannot develop into another Hollywood.
Chad Mallam held a news conference with Texas Southmost College last week to announce his company would be bringing in five or six TSC students per semester to write, shoot and edit video for the channel.
After the news conference had ended, Mallam gave an in-depth interview to the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service. In it he was full of praise for the region.
“One of the other things that’s great about this area is that, a lot like L.A., you have almost every environment here, right? You’ve got the desert, you’ve got the beach, everything is here for, like, I think, a new Hollywood.”
Apex of the Space industry
The Space Channel opened its HQ in Brownsville after SpaceX built a rocket launching facility at Boca Chica beach.
During the news conference, Mallam said Brownsville was now the “apex” of the space industry. Asked if that would still be the case if SpaceX continues to test its rockets at Boca Chica but actually launches commercial flights out of Florida, Mallam said:
“There’s a lot more than rockets here. What the city has been doing is bringing in space companies that don’t don’t just build giant rockets, they do finance, they do tech and computers and media. So what we’re seeing is an incredible amount of growth happening down here in the Valley.”
Even if the Boca Chica site only ends up testing rockets, it will still be something special, Mallam argued.
“Even if you test rockets out there, that is cool. I remember when I moved down here, I lived here for a year and I saw Ruben Torres Boulevard go from just like a few lanes to this amazing street. And that is what you see all over town. We were just driving through downtown and it just it’s incredible what’s going on. And so we thought we need to be here and not at the Cape, not anywhere else. Right here, because of the people and everything else.”
Gateway to Mars
In his remarks from the podium, Mallam said Brownsville was effectively the “gateway to Mars.” Asked later if he really meant that, Mallam said:
“Yeah, absolutely. Well, you got the guy (Elon Musk) who’s gonna do it, right? He’s down there and he’s building. And what’s really cool about this… if you’ve ever been to the Cape or any other place like that, you can’t get up close to these rockets. But, you can drive right up close down there (at Boca Chica) and see this and when you’re standing in front of a rocket like that, it’s inspiring. It does not matter how old you are. When I first saw that, I thought, that is huge, what is that? And it looks like something from the 1950s but it flies and works and you’ve got a guy who, you know, not a couple of years ago said, you know what, I think rockets should land themselves. And he went off and did it. So yeah, we’re convinced this is going to happen out here, and we’re watching it.”
Huge Media Center
The Space Channel is looking for five or six TSC students per semesters to work as interns. They will be housed in TSC’s new media center. And the partnership is all the more noteworthy because TSC does not have a communications or journalism program.
Asked what the students will learn, Mallam said: “We are looking for on-air talent, editing, design, graphics, writing. So that… you know, in LA, we call this the role of predator, which is an interesting title because it means producer, writer, editor, director, and so we want to teach a skill set so that students can write a story, shoot it, edit it, and then put that on TV just like that, that whole workflow.”
Mallam said such a skillset can take a student a far.
“What’s really amazing is that, that skill set, I made a living out of that. It is important for us to show that you can actually make a great living doing this, have fun, and create things. And what a better place to do that than down here, where you actually have the material to do it.”
Mallam acknowledged that a big part of the reason he chose to work with TSC was the effervescence and exuberance of its president, Dr. Jesús Roberto Rodríguez.
“I always go back to Dr. Rodríguez and when we first met him. Bob and I knew we were like, man, we’ve got to work with that guy. Because he’s got it dialed in and you know, I remember when we first met, like a majority of the conversation was just about the students. It was all just like, what they’re doing, how he’s helping them. We said, this guy gets it.”
The “Bob” Mallam was referring to was Robert ‘Bob’ Schefferine, Space Channel’s chief operating officer.
“So we thought let’s, let’s figure out that little media center over there and what can we do with that? And it took us a year to get it organized. But yeah, it’s going to be hopefully something that will happen every single year and grow. And eventually I’m thinking big here. It would be great to have a huge media center here.”
Mallam said that for he and Schefferine it is not just about setting up a business in Brownsville.
“We don’t want to just come and set up a business. It’s just not who we are. I mean, like I said (in his speech from the podium), Bob and I started this (company) in my garage. It’s a family business. You know, his wife helps us with finances. My dog like, you know, helps me pull focus and and so we realized like, it’s better for us to get really engaged and get to know people here, versus just set up shop and do what we do. That’s not going to do anything.”
Asked where that garage was, Mallam said:
“Right behind Universal Studios, in Hollywood. So I actually quit my job at NBC to start this. I was working at NBC on the Universal lot. And if you’ve ever been to California, if you can hack the commute, you’re winning in L.A. And so I found this tiny little place and it was like 600 square feet. It was nothing, I could barely fit in there. But it had a garage and enough room for a set. And so we thought, let’s start doing this on the weekend and see what happens.”
It went so well that Mallam quit his day job.
“In 2021 I sent my resignation to NBC, I was working on America’s Got Talent, and their eyes popped out of their head. They go, wait, what? Wait, you’re gonna move to Brownsville. I said, Oh, no, just wait. Because pretty soon, this is where you’re gonna get to Mars. And everyone down here is thinking very big. And I like that, especially with the city, Helen, Trey, everyone that we’ve encountered down here has been so welcoming, and it does feel like a family. So that’s, that’s why we’re here.”
Mallam was referring to Brownsville’s interim city manager, Helen Ramirez and Mayor Trey Mendez.
Asked if he and Schefferine have enough content for a 24/7 Space Channel, Mallam responded:
“We do. Yes. And get this. Pretty soon, down here, they (the TSC students) are going to be able to write, shoot, edit, and put that on TV and see themselves on TV globally. So there’s there’s a really unique opportunity. It’s incredible. It really is.”
Mallam said there’s a fun fact to know about the Space Channel.
“This is a fun fact. So we’re all short-form content. That means instead of putting together like a 30 minute show, we put together three to four minute pieces. And then we take those and then we make a show out of that. And when you watch the 24/7 channel, Bob actually schedules that, that’s hand scheduled. It’s not a computer that does that. So we take a lot of pride in how the content flows and what it looks like. I think it’s really paid off when you watch the network, it’s just a beautiful experience. So check it out.”
TSC Chairwoman Adela G. Garza said she has seen so many faces come through TSC’s doors to become successful and is proud more opportunities continue for students.
“This is an exciting opportunity for our students,” Garza said. “All of our students are wonderful. Thank you, Space Channel, for choosing TSC.”
President Rodríguez added that through its 95 years of rich history, TSC continues to serve and be the heartbeat of our communities.
“It’s a testament to who we are….evolving and changing and having the courage to move forward to adapt to the times and continue to serve our communities,” Rodríguez said.
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