There aren’t too many people so important to a business or an organization that you could not function without them, but Gary Prokes may just be one of those people.

We asked around, and this is what Dan Svoboda, a 2008 RBHS graduate whose experience at RBTV launched his career in video production, had to say.

“He is irreplaceable,” Svoboda told Landmark reporter Bob Skolnik.

Prokes’ program was fertile ground for those seeking to enter careers in broadcasting. Some, like Bryan Smaller, a 2010 graduate, would go on to win Emmy Awards. Others play key roles in broadcast projects closer to home. 

Riverside TV Commission Chairman Colin Hughes, himself a filmmaker, is a program graduate, as is Riverside TV production supervisor Lorenzo Cordova. Those working the cameras as Riverside TV broadcasts meetings of the Riverside village and township boards, the meetings of Riverside School District 96 and the many events the station broadcasts throughout the year are, without fail, RBTV students or grads.

Prokes molded RBTV, mentoring students while keeping abreast of the always advancing technology, shifting from analog to tape to digital production and creating a state-of-the-art broadcast studio.

While such operations aren’t unknown at the high school level, they often are mostly found at larger institutions, like Lyons Township High School. For a school with an enrollment of around 1,600 students, a TV/video production program such as RBTV is remarkable.

Of course, some of the credit should go to the high school’s administration for providing the funding needed to build the broadcast studio and equipment to keep it up-to-date and of real educational value. 

We hope in the future that such a commitment is maintained. School board candidates in recent years have talked about the need for RBHS to provide educational opportunities for those seeking vocations after high school. 

RBTV was an example of such a program, and it has had a profound effect on many, many students who found a home both in front of and behind the cameras and microphones.

But the main reason the program is so highly thought of by those who cut their teeth learning camera operation, broadcast direction, video and sound editing and post-production, is because of Prokes.

His dedication to his students and to the work itself was an example those students could internalize and take with them wherever their futures led them – to college, to filmmaking, to commercial video production, to Riverside TV and beyond.

Is Svoboda correct, that Prokes is irreplaceable? We’re about to find out.

Our best to Gary Prokes in retirement. You’ve built a remarkable program.