Alabama State University graduate (Class of 2001) April Ross, who majored in communications at the HBCU, is the proud owner of her own television station in her west Georgia town.
It came over years of making use of her journalism skills around her community – starting with a story in 2017 which no one else was available to cover.
In January 2017, Ross stepped onto her very first news scene as a digital reporter. Using only her cellphone and Facebook Live, Ross informed the community about a Troup County deputy being shot. “I put my background in journalism, a degree to use and I realized that day that’s what our area needed,” she told Columbus, Georgia, station WTVM.
From that point on Ross, a former production assistant at Columbus station WRBL, started showing up in the community with her cellphone in hand to cover various stories in the area.
“My news reporter instincts took over and in the absence of any TV news outlets here to report on it, I covered it on Facebook Live, which helped my social media presence to grow in excess of 15,000 followers,” Ross told WTVM.
The 49-year-old Ross recently described how BeeTV Network grew out of that first news story.
“That day when I was out there, and [Troup County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer] Stewart Smith asked me who I was with. I immediately said, ‘BeeTV,’” she told the LaGrange News newspaper. The name derived from an entertainment news-focused production company Ross owned called Honey Productions.
As her online presence grew, Ross was asked to fill in on a morning show at WJCN TV-33, which became the catalyst for her becoming owner of the station.
“My husband said when [her show] went off, he was like there was nothing on the station. He said, ‘Ask him [the station owner] if he wants to sell it,’” she said to WTVM.
So, the couple began making moves to make the purchase a reality.
Three years ago, April and her husband started the process of purchasing the station.
“I had to put it on pause for a minute and really get into deep prayer. And then when God was silent to me I felt like I was going in the right direction,” Ross told WTVM.
Ross and her husband signed off on the deal in May of 2021, renaming the station “BeeTV Network,” using the same name as her Facebook news channel. Ross credits her success to her faith in God, her alma mater, Alabama State University, and her resilience.
“Don’t ever give up on yourself,” she said to WTVM. “I don’t care what it looks like. It was crazy for me to go out with, literally, a cellphone, but it’s not crazy no more. It’s an actual TV network.”
BeeTV programming, which for now features shows from local personalities in addition to some of its previous programming, airs 24 hours a day to 600,000 households in west Georgia and east Alabama via the Spectrum cable network.