Blimp Takes Tennessee High School to Next Level

First in streamcasting—now first in flight

Aug 22, 2013, 15:51 ET from Buy Here Pay Here USA, Inc.

CLEVELAND, Tenn., Aug. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Cleveland High School broadcasting class in Cleveland, TN, produces the most-watched streamcasts in the nation. Now the class is also the first to produce streamcasts from a birds-eye view, thanks to a new state-of-the-art camera blimp.


The 13-foot helium blimp was purchased for the class by Cleveland, TN-based Buy Here Pay Here USA, Inc., which uses a blimp as its company symbol. The blimp features the same camera technology as those used at many of the nation's top college football programs.

The class can now have its camera fly overhead at football, baseball, soccer and other school sporting events, providing a view until now unachievable by high school broadcasters. Using remote controls, one student pilots the blimp while another directs the blimp's camera. The blimp can fly as fast as 25 mph, and can stay aloft as long as 90 minutes.

Technology beyond the reach of most broadcasting programs

"This is a tremendous piece of technology, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Cleveland High School broadcasting program," said Jon Souders, media instructor and director of the broadcasting program. "The blimp enables our students to continue using the best equipment available, and to provide a high-quality, network-style production for our worldwide audience. This is unheard of at the high school level."

According to Souders, the students aim to rival programmers such as ESPN with their broadcasts. "They're not going to settle for anything but the best," he added. "The donations from Buy Here Pay Here USA, Inc., and the Allan Jones Foundation have allowed us to continue to take things to the next level."

Souders' class has received national media attention in recent years due to its wrestling streamcasts on, made possible through funding from the Allan Jones Foundation. The Cleveland Daily Banner reported in March 2013 that the streamcasts were the most-watched high school broadcasts in the U.S.

The class also received recognition as the 2012-13 Outstanding Career and Technical Program from the Tennessee Council for Career and Technical Education, noted Souders. 

Donation of blimp honors success of broadcasting program

"We purchased the blimp to celebrate the Cleveland High School broadcast class's enduring success," noted Chris Pendergrass, president of Buy Here Pay Here USA, Inc. "During a recent wrestling match," he continued, "there were 1,500 people watching the streamcast online at That was incredible—and it showed me the importance of having Cleveland High School lead the way in technology."

According to Allan Jones, chairman of Buy Here Pay Here USA, Inc., the technology program at Cleveland High "took off" after the arrival of Cleveland city schools director Martin Ringstaff.

"It has always been my desire to help Cleveland High lead the nation in streamcasting," Jones said. "Unfortunately, the previous administration did not share my vision. Ringstaff has embraced the technology just as I did, and it paid off for the students and community.

"Look at the great things that are happening," Jones continued. "I believe this blimp is the next step in technology, and the students are going to be very successful."

A foundation built on the strength of the wrestling team

The school's streamcasting began at the Jones Wrestling Center, a premier facility on the Cleveland High School campus, Jones explained. Cleveland High's wrestling team has won the Division I state championship two of the past three years. In the 2013 state duals finals, Cleveland beat runner-up Wilson Central 78-4, setting a record for the most one-sided match in state championship history.

"The Cleveland wrestling program has been well-known for years across the state for its streamcasting," said Jones. Souders built on that success by expanding the streamcasting to other school sports.

Jones pointed out that when a high school leads the way in technology or is number one in anything, it makes the community feel good and benefits the students.

"This blimp is also important because on Fridays, when visiting teams come in to play Cleveland, they're going to see the blimp and it will make an impression on them," Jones concluded. "They're going to know we mean business!"

About Buy Here Pay Here USA Inc.

Buy Here Pay Here USA, Inc., is the Chattanooga area's premier pre-owned auto dealership for helping good people with bad credit or no credit get a great car—and rebuild their credit along the way. Since we opened our first lot in 2006 in Cleveland, TN, we have helped thousands of people with previous bankruptcies, repossessions, foreclosures, large medical bills and other credit issues get a car. We take pride in offering second chances to good people. For more information, visit

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