BHSU-RC student traces his journey from Puerto Rican police force to KOTA news producer

Author: BHSU Communications/Monday, April 30, 2018/Categories: Students, College of Liberal Arts, Community, Faculty, 2018

Jose Morales, who has been taking classes at Black Hills State University–Rapid City and will graduate with his bachelor’s degree in mass communications this week, is a long way from his hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

In the KBHU TV studio at BHSU, Jose Morales took a moment to turn off the camera and retrace the steps that brought him from Puerto Rico to Rapid City. Just three years ago, Jose set his sights on work in the continental U.S. He moved his family, his wife and son, to Custer and began working in the hospitality field, keeping an eye out for opportunities in the production world.

He soon landed a job at KOTA TV as an assistant producer. Here, he was able to implement his knowledge of camera, audio, lighting, and sets to produce and deliver news to his community. Jose worked his way up to a position directing the news. Soon, he heard about a job opening in the KOTA news department.

Jose applied, desiring to move from producing news to creating it in the news office. However, despite his experience, Jose needed a bachelor’s degree in mass communications to fill the position.

“I made the search in the Rapid City area for where they had a mass communications program—I decided to come to Black Hills State University.”

Jose started classes at BHSU-RC in 2016.

Dr. Mary Caton-Rosser, associate professor of mass communications at BHSU, had Jose in multiple classes. She said, “Jose offers perspectives from many different angles because of his diverse background of experiences and interacts in ways that help other students learn.”

Jose began directing the news at the BHSU campus TV station KBHU in 2018 and created a Puerto Rican cuisine cooking show. He worked with radio podcasting and had stories and photos published in the Jacket Journal and at

“As part of his work in Integrated News Lab II this semester, Jose worked to develop a new Student Media Council on campus, as a testament to his passion that media make a difference and are vital to an open, healthy community,” Caton-Rosser said.

From a young age, Jose desired to help his community. He was involved in Boy Scouts, achieving an Eagle Scout badge at age 19. This badge prompted him to continue helping his community, even at the risk of his own safety. At 21 years old, Jose joined the Puerto Rico state police force, a job he would excel at for over a decade. In 1999, Jose received the Policeman of the Year for his work. In 2007, Jose left the police force to begin pursuing a career in communications.

He started creating television programming, blending his knowledge about criminal justice with his passion for creative documenting. His first show was called 1050 TV, in which he joined the Emergency Medical responders and state police to document their daily encounters in Puerto Rico.

Jose was inspired to document these instances, not only because it was interesting, but because he felt closely tied to the work, having spent years on the force himself. Jose soon began documenting other ways of life, a passion which has continued in his new career with KOTA TV.

Jose will graduate Saturday, May 5 with his bachelor’s degree in mass communications, and aims to continue advancing his career.

“One of my dreams is to start my own TV station, so I’m going to work for that. A radio station too, but step-by-step, right?”

Jose said his success at BHSU-RC was due to the patience and diligence of the professors. “When I started I didn’t speak very much English. My professors took it step-by-step, and they helped me a lot. And I think that’s what I’ve learned here—understanding what another person needs and what they have or do not have. That’s communication between people—that’s what I love.”

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