‘Say yes to every opportunity’

Spotlight on adjunct instructor Corby Anderson


By Desiree Raven

What does a teacher from a one-room schoolhouse in the poorest part of the Appalachian Mountains named Ruby Forcum Anderson have to do with Colorado Mountain College?

For Isaacson School adjunct instructor Corby Anderson, the answer is everything. That woman was Corby’s grandmother. It was because of Ruby’s love of teaching and raising two college-educated sons, Corby’s father Glen and Uncle Harry, also a teacher, that Corby felt a passion to fulfill a long family tradition. He is now passing on hard-won knowledge garnered in his media career to the next generation.

“I had great mentors and teachers,” said Corby. “It’s a huge honor to be given the opportunity to impart some of those real world lessons with the students.”

An adjunct instructor at the Isaacson School’s digital media production track since the doors opened, Corby instructs courses in video production, audio mixing and radio production; organizes internships and is a faculty advisor to RadioCMC, the college’s radio station that is programmed and managed by students.

Corby started his media career as a 16-year-old DJ and sportscaster for KVHS FM, a legendary high school radio station based out of Clayton Valley High School in Concord, Calif. Even before then, he knew that he wanted to pursue a career in media of some type.

“Growing up, my friends and I would use tape cassette recorders to create these fake radio commercials, comedy shows, news reports – anything we could think of that was funny, dramatic, crude, or better yet, all three at once,” he said, laughing.

“Then we graduated to producing a weekly ‘newspaper’ for our little neighborhood, Corby said. “It was really scandalous stuff – which neighbor was rockin’ a new car, whose grass was growing too long and needed cutting. Of course, that played right into my side job as neighborhood grass mower!”

That early start led him to study broadcasting and media production in college, first at Butte Community College in Chico, Calif. and ultimately to Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C.

His big break in media post-college came in 1997, after moving to the Roaring Fork Valley to pursue “ski bummery,” with simultaneous opportunities to man the console at KNFO FM, a Roaring Fork Valley talk radio station, during hockey games, and edit Aspen Center for Physics videos for a local producer.

He gained the experience to qualify him to teach media production courses at CMC thanks to a long, winding and “most interesting” career that has seen him serve in almost every role and in every facet of traditional and new media production and management. Those stints include extensive work in television, live event production, audio/visual, commercial video, film, radio, audio production, music, journalism, photography and marketing.

He learned a few things along the way working in so many areas of media. Never limit yourself to one discipline in the media business is a lesson Corby taught himself, which he passes on to his students.

“Say yes to every opportunity,” he said, “and do your best to make your client or boss proud in every way.”

The opportunity to teach at the Isaacson School came while Corby was reeling from a sour run of setbacks following the economic collapse of the Great Recession. A series of layoffs and a bad deal with a production company for which he was contracted to write and produce a cooking show had left him literally stuck in Lodi, Calif., with just enough savings remaining in his piggy bank to rent a Ryder truck and high tail it back to the relative security of the Roaring Fork Valley to start over.

A job interview for a marketing assistant at the brand new RadioCMC led to a practical, but life changing question from Isaacson School administrator Maureen Stepp.

“In the middle of the interview, she politely asked if I might have any interest in teaching. I think both arms shot up in the air at the same time! It was like I was in a dream. In fact, it still is!” Corby said.

Anderson reports that he enjoys all of the classes he teaches equally, “…and each for different reasons.” He has seen substantial growth during the two years the program has been running, especially in the amount and type of equipment that has been purchased and made available to his students.

“When we started just three or four years ago, I had to scrounge and borrow audio gear from my band to show students how to set up a PA,” he said. “This past year we built a really nice little recording studio on the Spring Valley Campus. Now, across the board, our students are learning to use equipment that is at the cutting edge of the industry. It is hugely important for their creative growth and positioning in the workforce coming out of CMC, and I couldn’t be happier that we’ve been able to secure funding for such excellent audio and video equipment.”

Corby’s participation with the Isaacson School has been a huge benefit to both the program and the students. Thanks to his freelance work and professional contacts, he was able to procure paid internships for four students to work at the prestigious Winter X Games in Aspen.

This summer, Corby is working “my usual crazy fun mix of gigs” as the technical director for the CrossFit Games tour, after returning from working in Denmark. He’s also directing the Country Jam and Loudwire music festivals outside of Grand Junction, as well as engineering a week of Sirius XM live broadcasts from the Aspen Ideas Festival.

Fall looks to be just as busy, with radio and video production courses starting in August, as well as traveling production work around the globe sandwiched in between classes.

Corby’s philosophy is that there is always something new to learn on a production. He parlays his professional experiences to enhance his lessons in the classroom, thus carrying on the family tradition started long ago by one sweet, tough mountain teacher, Ruby Forcum Anderson.