Drew Kromer can be found every Friday bustling around South Mecklenburg High School’s broadcasting studio, directing operations and ensuring his team of about 11 students are ready to go on air.
It’s a post he’s held since freshman year, after Principal Maureen Furr got word from Carmel Middle Principal Mark Angerer that Drew had a knack and knowledge for audio/visual equipment. At the time, South Meck’s studio was more of a storage closet in desperate need of some TLC.
“It was basically a graveyard of old equipment,” Drew said, with old computers, old books, cassette tapes and slides stacked everywhere.
Now a junior at the school, Drew has spent the last two and half years getting South Meck’s closed circuit television broadcast, SMTV, back up to par. Production now functions at an organized level, camera operators know their cues, the teleprompter keeps the flow of the show rolling, a sound engineer makes sure the microphones are just right, the content manager screens and edits the copy, all while Drew takes a step back to make sure everyone knows what’s going on.
“I guess you could call me the director,” he said. “Honestly, it’s just more of a jack-of-all-trades type thing. Before we start the broadcast, I just make sure everything has been done. I make sure everyone knows what is going.”
He tells the video guy when to switch over and go live, and steps in if needed when his peers need his help. It’s more of a hidden job, as Drew describes it, adding sometimes it can be difficult to manage his peers.
But at 16, Drew has the experience needed to manage the station and his friends. He’s been involved with videography and audio/visual technology since middle school, helping out at his church with setting up and rewiring sound equipment. He gives credit to fellow church members and mentors Doug Dawson, board chairman for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Ventureprise, a catalyst for entrepreneurial innovation in Charlotte, and Jason Talley, owner of a small videography company. Drew worked with both Dawson and Talley as part of the Sharon Presbyterian Church’s technology team.
“Jason offered me to go to video shoots with him and pointed me in the right direction with software to get my videography off the ground,” Drew, who now owns a small production company of his own called Black Moon Productions, said. He’s built websites and made videos for clients such as Herff Jones and the Teaching Fellows Institute of Charlotte.
“Doug is basically my godfather,” Drew said about Dawson, who formerly owned a software company. “He’s taught me so much, including life lessons. I can really go to him for anything. He takes me to business programs and helps me network,” which is increasingly beneficial since Drew also is working on starting a digital advertising company.
But at the end of the day, he’s just a typical high school student, running track and cross country, earning the Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout rank, driving with an “after 9 p.m.” license, Drew said, all while trying to tackle five AP courses. He’s also the founder of South Meck’s photography club.
But for Drew, he says any student can start his or her own business because there is really no risk. Just be willing to pivot, he said, and be willing to change your idea.
“Drew is just a born leader, and he never sees any obstacles that could prevent him from doing what he’s thinking,” Dawson said. “Most kids his age are worried about what other people may think. Drew is like, ‘I have this idea, now let’s make it happen.’”