Ray Costa (BA), Hollywood entertainment publicist and owner of Costa Communications,
wrote and produced Hometown Glory, a documentary on volunteer teen firefighters in Germantown. In the 1970s, the town
was experiencing rapid growth, but was still small enough that the Fire Department
began training local teens as professional firefighters. Most were still in high school,
some as young as 14. After various training exercises after school and on weekends,
the teens would sign a piece of paper and they became firefighters. When the alarm
sounded, the boys would leap over their school desks and race to the firehouse, where
they would find the address of the emergency written on a chalkboard.
It was a coming-of-age for the town and for the young men who protected it. While
there was some pay, most were in it for the fun and adventure. The documentary includes
dramatic recreations, archival stills, old television news clips and interviews. Due
to safety and liability issues, the program was formally discontinued in 1985. (Germantown
firefighters must now be 21 and complete 300 hours of training.) Hometown Glory opened the Memphis International Film & Music Fest in April.
Costa, who was one of those teen firefighters, has more than 20 years of experience
in journalism, broadcasting, public relations and marketing. He specializes in promotion
of feature film music (Moulin Rouge, The Passion of the Christ, Enchanted), record labels, magazines and video games (Enter the Matrix, Medal of Honor). While a talk show host and news reporter for WHBQ Radio, Costa covered a 30-hour
hostage situation involving a police officer. He received two Associated Press News
Awards and a United Press International Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism.