History in the making

MLTV partners with Fox News

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Myah Lear

Setting timers Jacob Steinbugl helps to set the timer for the show MLTV films with Fox 8. The students often help with the behind the scenes work which includes setting the timer and managing angles with the cameras.

MLTV, Mountain Lion Television, is what students watch in the morning to listen to announcements and news in the morning. This year a partnership with Fox News has been created to film and record a show that broadcasts from Fox.

MLTV is helping to record a show called “The Zone with Referee Rich.” The show airs on Fox after the 10 p.m. news on Friday, and it runs from 10:35 p.m. to 11:05 p.m.

“We decided either at the end of last year or over the summer to do a sports segment show,” Sipes said. “It’s only one guest, we only shoot one show every Wednesday, and it only usually takes about an hour to totally finish.”

The Fox show came out of a meeting that Principal Andrew Neely had with Station Manager with Fox and ABC 23 Jim Pastore.

“About a year and a half ago, Andy Neely and I discussed doing a co-op using a studio to help teach your students how to produce and direct a television show,” Pastore said. “He thought it was a good idea and brought it to the school board and the school board said it was okay, and we started recording the show.”

The students who work on the Fox shows work behind the scenes and also film a two minute segment about something at the high school that runs with the show. The segment runs at the end of the show.

“The segment doesn’t necessarily have to be for sports,” Pastore said. “They could do something with sports. If they wanted to do something with the arts, they could do that. You know, I think the first segment they did was about all the students that we’re going to help [with the show].”

Tom Concannon and Jason Bolinger work with the students behind the scenes.

“It’s fun to work with people who are very enthusiastic about doing work in the business,” Tom Concannon said. “After a while, people kind of get into a groove and it’s just like, ‘yeah, I got this,’ but when you work with people that are new, it’s great to have that enthusiasm.”

Students are excused for the end of third period and the beginning of fourth period on Wednesday’s to help record the show.

“During the MLTV partnership with Fox, each student typically has their own job,” Yohn said. “We normally have people who work on the cameras making sure that all the angles are right, people who are completely on sound, people who are constantly watching the cameras to make sure that all of the angles are being streamed and recorded and a person who is typically on time making sure that everything is down to the second, because that is incredibly important and typically my job. We all work in tandem, and we rotate out the different jobs. Everybody knows how to do each other’s jobs which is nice in that we can kind of try different things.”

Working on MLTV and the show with Fox gives Yohn a sense of satisfaction with his work.

“I am pretty proud of it. It’s really cool to see everything that we create actually be put out there for everyone to see,” Yohn said. “We make sure that everything is working properly, and then being able to see it actually happen. It’s just the greatest feeling. It’s a wonderful experience that allows us to learn more about the broadcasting world in general. If any of us ever plan to go into video production or work on the radio, which I actually am right now, this is the perfect thing to get us started. I think it’s a great opportunity.”

MLTV was first started in 1998 by broadcast instructor Douglas Sipes.

“We started it because we weren’t happy with the coverage we were getting on the local TV stations when kids do really great things and all the cool projects we do here,” Sipes said. “We thought about running it through the access channel at first, but then I kind of declined that because I knew it’d be too much of a conflict with what they were doing plus with what we were doing, so we decided to just build a whole new TV studio.”

When MLTV first started, Sipes applied for a grant to be able to buy equipment to operate the show.

“I wrote a grant and it gave us either a $100,000 grant or $150,000,” Sipes said. “That’s how we got the money for it. We bought and started off with VHS cameras… We probably went through at least four upgrades that were just adding equipment and upgrading our equipment the whole time we were over there.”

The original location of the broadcasting room used to be in the old B-building near the old art rooms.

“We had the money in the last year that we were in the B-building to buy our new equipment,” Sipes said. “All this equipment was actually in the old B-building the last year that we were there, and then it got uninstalled and reinstalled over here [in the current MLTV room]. It was brand new for that last year and then came over here, and then that’s when of course COVID-19 hit, and so it wasn’t really used a lot that or if at all for about a year.”

MLTV covers school events and things that people send in to be covered which is how they have operated since MLTV started.

“We have a lot more editing stations now, which is good, but we pretty much operate the same way in the sense that people send us things to cover, and we cover them. Also we do a lot of live sporting events,” Sipes said. “People in the community will reach out and say ‘hey, we need a video on this’, and we will do that too, if we can. That’s kind of how we operate on a daily basis. It’s never really the same thing, but it’s always busy, and I run it pretty much like a business because it’s not like a traditional classroom.”

The students are the ones who come up with the ideas for the openers and closers for the MLTV show. Openers are the first clip or skit shown in an episode of MLTV and closers are the last clip or skit.

“It’s really anything that we want to do and put out there, but we have to be careful because we get graded on it,” junior Jake Yohn said. “I am really bad when it comes to ideas: I’m more of the ‘you tell me what you want, and I’ll make it happen’ guy. But every now and then I’ll come up with a good idea. We typically reference pop culture things and anything that is really trending or popular at the moment, and we’ll create a parody of that to put onto [MLTV].”

Pullquote Photo

We actually have a script that we’re supposed to follow for MLTV but Mr. Sipes heavily encourages us to improvise. He actually recently told us that he’s really happy with us because we improvise a lot.”

— Jake Yohn

Yohn initially wasn’t going to join MLTV until Sipes approached him in front of the high school and told him about it.

“I decided, you know, that sounds like it would be fun,” Yohn said. “So I tried it for a year, and he invited me back to MLTV, and I wasn’t going to do it again because I thought, no, that’s dumb. I eventually decided that I just wanted to try it out and I’m really glad that I did.”

Some changes have occurred through MLTV through the years.

“[The old program] didn’t work half the time for a lot of people, including me. I’m in here and our video board doesn’t work a lot,” Sipes said. “ We decided to go to YouTube because we knew that streaming it live to there and back will definitely improve everything and now pretty much nobody has issues.”