The Stony Brook University School of Journalism produced its third live show this past Saturday – setting a new bar for the school’s student-run broadcasts.
The show covered Wolfstock, Stony Brook’s annual homecoming celebration and football game. At this time last year, the original Wolfstock Live had 264 views on it’s Vimeo page, but one year later, Wolfstock Live 2014 has over 400 views– adding up to a nearly 60 percent increase since last year. With guests like Globetrotter Anthony Buckets Blake and SBU President Samuel Stanley, it’s not hard to see why.
Planning for the show began soon after production finished on Roth Regatta Live, the SOJ’s last live show which aired last May. This gave Executive Producers Dahlia Ibrahim and Jessica Suarez five months to prepare, as opposed to the half month the showrunners of the original Wolfstock Live had to work with.
“For the first live show, we threw it together in two weeks and it was still a success,” said Ibrahim, who was on-air reporter for the original Wolfstock Live. “Now we’re giving ourselves months of time, so that we can really plan this down to the second.”
That precise timing was critical when it came to juggling the show’s scattered segments and reporters. Besides Anchors Brendan Jones and Jaclyn Lattanza, who were based inside Wolfstock Village for the first time, Wolfstock Live also featured three field reporters: Agatha Michalak, Eric Santiago and Basil John.
Throughout the show, the anchors and reporters continuously threw the feed back to one another– all in real-time. With Michalak set up on the opposite end of Wolfstock Village from the anchors, Santiago located at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium and John filming a food segment, the producers had to rely on a new communications system developed by Technical Manager Philip Altiere.
In the past, “there was no singular device to be able to communicate with everyone,” said Altiere. But now, “people can talk to each other more easily, and know exactly what’s coming up next, which is absolutely crucial for a live show success.”
Those words proved prophetic on Saturday when last-minute changes forced the show to turn on a dime. With guests arriving late, others dropping out and even some being added, the producers had to continuously rearrange the order of the show’s segments to keep moving forward. But this wasn’t a shock to those involved.
“Anything can happen in live TV,” said John.
None of this would have been possible without the show’s elaborate technical set up. Altiere, with the help of student production assistants, was able to dismantle the SOJ studio control room and reassemble it in the heart of Wolfstock Village.
From there, the Wolfstock Live team was able to set up all of the equipment for the broadcast, including the Padcaster technology the SOJ demoed at the Content and Communications World Expo. Combined with the new communication system, this allowed Wolfstock Live 2014 to be as flexible as necessary. For Altiere, it came down to two factors.
“Preparation and communication are key,” he said.
All photos by Heather Khalifa.