1988 Outstanding Alumnus: Doug Prazak

Doug Prazak graduated from Ohlone College in 1972 with an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts.  He continued his studies at Cal State Hayward (CSHU).  In 1974 Doug was hired by Ohlone as a media technician.  He eventually became the Director of Television Services and taught as an adjunct faculty member in the Radio and TV Broadcasting Program.  Doug left Ohlone in 1999 after 26 years of service to pursue a second career with Cisco Systems.

Doug enrolled at Ohlone after graduating from Mission San Jose High School.  He attended Ohlone College to complete his first two years of college before transferring to CSUH as a junior.  Those early years meant classes at multiple campuses until the “new” campus was completed.

“I remember having a History class at the Serra Center, then having 10 minutes to run down to the parking lot to drive over to the classrooms in Old City Hall building on Mission Blvd to get to an English class.  Driving an old ’64 Volkswagen with starting issues definitely made for interesting challenges.”

When asked to described Doug, members of the community and college used words such as “organizer,” “builder,” “creator,” and “willing volunteer.”  Doug was definitely a doer.  Over the years, he developed the Television Operations Department at Ohlone and designed several classes for students in telecommunications and production.  He was a key person in bringing satellite technology to the college.

In the late 1980s planning began for creating a fine and performing arts facility.  Doug was a key player in that planning and the eventual securing of state funds to build it.  He provided leadership in the planning, design and development of the television studios and control rooms that would be housed in the facility.  When the Smith Center for the Fine and Performing Arts opened in the fall of 1995 both stations were ready to hit the ground running.

In 1990, Ohlone Television acquired its own cablecast channel on the Fremont and Newark cable systems.  The curriculum was designed to teach students the art of live broadcasting.  Weekly newscasts and talk shows were broadcast live, giving students real-life experience in getting programs on the air and on time.  In addition, several cultural events such as plays, dance performances and professional presentations were also broadcast live from the Jackson Theatre.  This real experience of live television enabled several students to land jobs at broadcast television stations around the Bay Area, as well as in other major cities.

Seeing his former students find their own footing in the television broadcast industry marks his proudest accomplishment.  A few have moved into the motion picture industry, including an editor at Pixar.  Directors, camera operators, producers, editors and on-air talent working at network stations around the country all had their start at Ohlone.  This is a true testament to the program that started with just 2 black and white TV cameras and a classroom for a studio.

The Fremont community and others regularly sought Doug’s talents.  He served with several committees and provided expertise to schools, conferences, service clubs, and special events.  Doug volunteered his skills and time to agencies within the Fremont and Newark city governments, and was even the Pronouncer for the Alameda Country Spelling Bee.  According to Doug, that was “one of the toughest jobs I ever had to do.”

On campus, Doug was well known for his assistance to many departments, his service with campus committees, his leadership in “Staff Superstars” and the annual holiday party.  Doug brought to his career a commitment to excellence, an intention to contribute to others, and an amazing amount of contagious enthusiasm.

In 1988 Doug was honored with Ohlone’s Outstanding Alumnus Award.  After leaving the college, the Television Control Room was named after him in 2007 in honor of his many contributions to the college, the television station and the Broadcasting program.

“I have so many great memories or working with so many great educators and staff.  Watching the college “grow up” through my 26 years there will always have a very special place in my heart.”