UniTV (University of Sussex) have had some good news of late and we fired off some questions to station manager Cal McLoughlin, who took the time to give us a great look into the world of one of NaSTA’s youngest member stations.
Hi Cal, how are you?
I’m great at the moment thank you; still buzzing after UniTV was awarded the RBS ESSA Gold Award Runner-Up for Most Enterprising Society in July. It was a great way to start off the summer.
Been Station Manager long?
Actually, I have only just taken over the position. Our previous Station Manager and Founder of UniTV, Alex Anpilogov, graduated in July. September will be the start of my first official term as Station Manager. It’s a lot of responsibility to take on, but I have a fantastic team to work with so I am looking forward to the next year and the challenges it brings.
UniTV has just been named as one of the best enterprising societies in the country. What sort of things did you and your station get up to through the year to gain this reputation?
This was only UniTV’s second year running as a society, so much of our time was spent expanding the UniTV team and focusing on improving content. We experimented for the first time with putting an executive structure in place to run the station. Much of it has been trial and error, and we can still see a lot of room for improvement but we’re learning these things as we go along.
The year got off to a great start with a re-brand of the station, with an accompanying video, and did some great coverage of Fresher’s week at Sussex.
This year UniTV produced its first ever live broadcast called ‘Candidate Question Time’, which was held in the run up to the Student Union elections. We streamed it online, and won an award for Innovation in Student Media at the University of Sussex’s Student Awards, an event which we also covered live. Besides that, we have started developing other projects and filming various events around campus. We even got a chance to film an interview with Fatboy Slim conducted by Sussex’s student radio station, URF. Most of the highlights of our past year can be seen in our showreel.
Despite only starting up in October 2010, UniTV has already won at the NaSTA Awards, and now this recognition by the ESSA. What do you think is behind the station’s early successes?
The dedication of UniTV’s members is really the key to the station’s success. We have a small team, most of whom are actual media students within the university, so everyone obviously has genuine enthusiasm for TV production and learning about the media. The creativity and energy the members bring to the table is amazing. People have put aside hours, even days at a time working in the studio, in editing suites…they are prepared to travel any distance with mounds of heavy, cumbersome equipment just to report on an event for the station. It’s a very international team that runs UniTV, with most of us coming from across the EU or even further afield; but we feel like one big family. Everyone gets along amazingly well and we strive to support each other at all times. I’m so proud of the work we have achieved together as a team: any awards the station has received are just recognition of this.
What sort of equipment do you have at UniTV?
Sussex University’s media department grants us access to a variety of cameras and gear. We have a lot of equipment to play around with, like Steadicam mounts, a GoPro HD HERO, numerous DSLRs, mics and different types of lighting. It’s fun to have such a wide range of high-end equipment to experiment with. Inside the media school UniTV also has its own space with computers kitted out with the full Adobe suite for 24/7 editing if we need it. The university has a video and photographic studio with a green screen and studio lighting, as well as a Foley studio. That’s what really gives us the scope to produce high quality, professional videos. We love it.
Your website is pretty slick. How would someone get one of those?
Having a webmaster who knows what they’re doing is a pretty important part. UniTV has a very clear design concept and style, so getting someone with the technical knowledge to put that into practice is the essential step towards creating a great website.
In terms of content, what sort of programmes do you think UniTV does best?
So far, our station has concentrated its efforts on campus and student events coverage, and reports of local news stories. We’ve produced a few nice individual videos, one of my personal favourites is our feature of the Sussex Diwali 2011 Celebrations.
We often find ourselves working in collaboration with our Student Union and different clubs and societies in the University of Sussex a lot these days. UniTV is well known on campus for producing high-quality videos, so we are often asked to film SU reports and society spotlights, such as the this one we made for the Humans Vs. Zombies Society.
Although once-of features are nice, they can tend to be a bit sporadic and hard to plan around, so in future we hope to start regularly releasing more recurring programmes. We have been testing out ideas for some new shows we would like to start. The first of which, a show called ‘Science Uncovered’, has already released its first few episodes. These sorts of programmes allow members of the station to work on their own individual projects in smaller teams, so everyone gets a chance to express their creativity and experiment with content production.
Finally, where do you see UniTV in a years time?
Well, hopefully I would like to be coming back from NaSTA in Exeter next year with a few awards in UniTV’s name!! Seriously though, this year is going to be all about improving the quality and range of our videos. With the prize money we received from the RBS ESSA award we hope to purchase new equipment for the station and improve the organisational structure to get UniTV running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. This will be the station’s first year without the original founders and members on the team. The high standards set in the past will be tough to follow, but our members have some great ideas for ways in which we can expand and improve even more. After our initial success with live broadcasting, I would definitely like to see us producing a greater number of live shows. For the first time this year UniTV plans to take place in Freshers TV alongside other NaSTA affiliated stations, which is a big step for us- one that we are certainly excited about!
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