The Student News Site of Appalachian State University

The Appalachian

The Student News Site of Appalachian State University

The Appalachian

The Student News Site of Appalachian State University

The Appalachian

Black at App TV spotlights Black community

Hayden Wittenborn
From left to right, Alec Woods, Lennie Vaillant, Tessa Cokley and Raya Aughtry take their seats in the studio to film the show Black At App at Beasley Media Complex on Feb. 7, 2024.

“Where’s the Black people show?” asked Tessa Cokley, a junior electronic media/broadcasting major, when wishing to get involved with AppTV and seeing the options of the shows she could join.

In the Fall 2023 semester, Cokley took it upon herself to create Black at App TV, the first Black-led and focused program on AppTV.

“I was like, you know what? Let me go ahead and start this, make my little mark at App,” Cokley said. “It’s definitely something that I can do.”

The goal of the show, Cokley said, is to highlight the Black community of App State and beyond.

“A lot of the news cycles are negative, especially, like, around people of color,” Cokley said. “So I wanted to focus on positive Black news on and off campus to help.”

After coming up with the idea and getting the approval to air the show, Cokley, producer and co-host of the show, assembled her team. She asked around, turning to classmates and her friends, gaining their interests.

Lennie Vaillant (left) and Tessa Cokley and pose for a picture on the set. The duo are co-hosts and Vaillant is the social media coordinator and Cokley is a producer for Black at App TV. (Hayden Wittenborn)

“I thought that was an amazing idea and immediately I wanted to be a part of it,” said Lennie Vaillant, a senior and co-host of the show.

Cokley said not everyone involved with the show had experience in broadcasting and the technical skills to produce a show, so she had to teach and lead others.

“Tessa has been doing such an amazing job as the producer and yeah, she’s just so smart and, like, so talented,” Vaillant said. “When she puts her mind to something she gets it done and I told her that you know, I believe in Black excellence and that is exactly what she has.”

Cokley said the show’s team meets weekly on Wednesdays to discuss story ideas and plans for the upcoming episode. Then, there is a filming day in which they piece it all together. Cokley said filming days may take a few hours due to setting up the audio and video equipment.

“It’s a lot of trial and error, like, we’ve only had two episodes out but there’s a lot of work that went into it,” Cokley said.

Nick Fluitt working on the soundboard for the audio of Black at App TV on Feb. 7, 2024. Behind Fluitt, Aidan Riley ensures the remote camera operations are running smoothly.

Some of the show’s segments highlight people, fashion, music and events happening in and around Boone. Cokley said through this show, she wants to encourage people of color to step out of their comfort zones by trying new things that may be featured in the show.

Before joining the show, Vaillant said she was afraid of speaking in front of a camera. However, the show allowed her to open up more.

“I’m not in the media broadcasting world. I’m in a public health major. So, like, that’s way out of my field,” Vaillant said. “But I did want to put myself out there.”

Vaillant said seeing herself on TV for the first time was “a good feeling” and that she called her mom when she found out it aired on a television channel. 

Currently, the show has about 13 members, something Cokley said she is “super proud of.” She said it “warms her heart” when people create their own segments and contributions to the show, and when people look forward to seeing those segments.

The show recently entered its second season, and is looking for feedback.

“If people watch the episodes, I would like to encourage people to comment, like, what you think we should do and, like, how we can get more people involved,” Cokley said.

Cokley also said the show wants to feature more people in the community and would like to feature more clubs.

“It’s meant to be really inclusive for everyone. But again just focused on the Black community at App State since it’s so small,” Cokley said. “You just want to get that out there and get that recognition.”

Vaillant said she hopes the show will go viral in the future, and will be something members of the community instantly recognize when brought up in conversation.

As the show continues with more episodes, the co-hosts hope more people will join and continue on the legacy of the show.

“It’s a show made by us, for us,” Vaillant said. “We created it for us, like, we did not wait for y’all to do something for us. Like, we did it ourselves. So it would show that you know, you can do it, just put your mind to it.”

The show can be watched on the AppTV Youtube channel, Spectrum Charter channel 198, Skybest channel 20 or 1020 or on campus channel 23-3.

“This is gonna out date me,” Cokley said. “People are already joining it and it’s gonna keep going and it’s only going to keep getting better and I’m super excited.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Appalachian
Our Goal

We hope you appreciate this article! Before you move on, our student staff wanted to ask if you would consider supporting The Appalachian's award-winning journalism. We are celebrating our 90th anniversary of The Appalachian in 2024!

We receive funding from the university, which helps us to compensate our students for the work they do for The Appalachian. However, the bulk of our operational expenses — from printing and website hosting to training and entering our work into competitions — is dependent upon advertising revenue and donations. We cannot exist without the financial and educational support of our fellow departments on campus, our local and regional businesses, and donations of money and time from alumni, parents, subscribers and friends.

Our journalism is produced to serve the public interest, both on campus and within the community. From anywhere in the world, readers can access our paywall-free journalism, through our website, through our email newsletter, and through our social media channels. Our supporters help to keep us editorially independent, user-friendly, and accessible to everyone.

If you can, please consider supporting us with a financial gift from $10. We appreciate your consideration and support of student journalism at Appalachian State University. If you prefer to make a tax-deductible donation, or if you would prefer to make a recurring monthly gift, please give to The Appalachian Student News Fund through the university here:

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Jenna Guzman, Editor-in-Chief
Jenna Guzman (she/her) is a junior journalism and public relations double major with a media studies minor. This is her third year working for The Appalachian.
Hayden Wittenborn, Photographer
Hayden Wittenborn (she/her) is a junior Advertising major, Business minor, from Cary, N.C. This is her first year with The Appalachian.
Donate to The Appalachian
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Appalachian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *