Broadcasting Crew committed to teams

Photo courtesy of Washburn Sports Video Production.

The team preps for the game. Members have watched the tape and analyzed their moves. They have checked and double-checked the equipment, making sure they’re in sync. A half hour until the clock starts, they do warm-up shots and make sure they are listening to each other, hearing each other correctly.

Game time. They follow the movement, and are thrilled by the cheers of the crowd. Someone cracks a joke over the headsets, and the other members of the broadcast crew roll their eyes or laugh while staying trained on the ball.

The crew in many ways reflects the sports that it covers. Crew members report three hours before the game, and are in position by warm-up time. They operate as a team to coordinate shots for the best coverage.

However, unlike the teams they cover, the majority of the Broadcasting Crew members are mass media majors.

“Typically I just go to mass media classes to recruit,” said Dale Rusche, the Information Systems and Services coordinator of production. “Mass media students need the experience, and we can help with that. We also put them in contact with other students who they go to class with and see everyday but wouldn’t otherwise normally interact with.”

Rusche, along with Lyall Ford, the ISS production assistant, is in charge of the crew, and ultimately its product. The broadcast crew is responsible for filming football, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball home games. Some games are contracted to other companies or picked up by KTWU, but many fall through the cracks. The crew films the remaining games and broadcasts them live through B2 Networks’ online hosting. The games are also rebroadcast during the week by Washburn University Cable Television station, channel 13.

There are six students on each crew: three camera operators, one person to work the audio board, one director and one character generator, who is responsible for queueing packages for advertisements.

Each position plays an integral part, said Rusche, but often the director position is the one that is most sought after. It is also the one that he reserves for students who have seniority on crew.

Jared Wilson, a junior mass media major, has been on crew all three years, and said that while he enjoys doing whatever position he is assigned, being the director is the most challenging.

“I think director is very intimidating,” said Wilson. “It’s probably the tougher one. Some people get scared of the audio, as well as the CG. They’re not hard, it’s just a matter of getting used to them.”

It is the director’s job to determine which camera shots are the best to use, and tell the camera operators what to focus on. The CG inserts ad packages during timeouts, and the audio board operator switches off and on the commentary of the game, which is broadcast on radio by KTPK-FM 106.9. Rusche and Ford are there to oversee the process and help when needed, but the process is largely dependent on the students because there is only about a 15-second delay before the footage runs on the B2 Networks’ website.

The experiences gained while on the broadcast crew are the biggest draw for mass media students, who often use the crew to springboard onto bigger projects.

“Broadcast crew is very much a you-get-out-what-you-put-in experience,” said Rusche, “But it can give real world experience, and a lot of places recruit right off the crew.”

Amy Horvath, a senior mass media major, is in her second year on the crew, and said the promise of experience drew her in. The experience she gained on the crew led her to a job filming the Topeka RoadRunners hockey games at the Kansas Expocentre.

“The second I told them I had done sports production at Washburn, they knew that I had the ability,” said Horvath, “Almost everyone else on the crew for the RoadRunners did or has done sports production, so they knew what I had been taught and what I have done.”

The job at the RoadRunners games is very similar to working on the crew at Washburn, Horvath said, which is why it has become so easy for the Expocentre to recruit its video operators. Wilson also worked at the Expocentre for a time, and agreed that getting a job there was made possible by his work with the broadcasting crew for Washburn games. Since he already had so much experience, it saved a lot of time not having to worry much about training and operating equiptment.

Rusche said that another prominent crew alumnus, Justin Gutierrez, now has a job working for ESPN.

“I can’t take credit for Justin,” said Rusche, “but I like to think that we helped him take it this far.”One large part of helping members find jobs is that the broadcast crew is full of networking opportunities.

“Justin helped me get on with ESPN,” said Wilson. “I got to work with them this summer and it’s helped me know people in my classes who can help me.”

While the personal relationships are often the most fun part of the job, since there are two crews per semester, people often have to switch to different groups.

“We use people from each crew to sub in the other,” said Rusche. “As they transfer to the new semester, there’s a bit of wanting to stick together, but there’s also their schedules that get in the way.”

At the end of each session, Rusche and Ford have a taped version of the game, but B2 Networks does not release the number of viewers who watch the game online. Wilson said the online option is not heavily promoted, but he thinks it is becoming more popular.

“Last year and this year I’ve heard a lot more people like students and players talk about it,” he said. “I don’t know how much people watch, but it seems like more people at least know about it.”

It costs $7 to buy the code to watch each game, more to purchase a season pass for each sport or an all-access pass, but Wilson said it is worth it because having students on the broadcasting crew is a win all around.

“It provides for the community to see the games, and so it helps Washburn have that connection, and it gets us experience and networking,” he said.

With the basketball season at a close, members of the crew have dispersed and won’t meet with cameras in hand until next semester’s football and volleyball season begins.

However, the comraderie remains: Rusche and Ford plan to treat the crew to a barbecue at the end of the semester.