Students began broadcasting original programming over the School and Media Public Affairs’ Channel 6 last week. The cable channel is available in residence halls and all other University buildings.
Students supervised by a graduate teaching assistant are running Channel 6, dubbed GWTV. It runs a news show produced by students in the SMPA Television Workshop class along with independently produced student material. Students can submit work to GWTV that they created in classes or on their own.
“It’s an SMPA channel for an SMPA course to air their work,” said Kathleen Harmic, chief of engineering and operations for SMPA. “Anything else – we’re open to it.”
Last week, GWTV aired two programs – a GW student’s independent film and “The Source,” a weekly news magazine produced by the Television Workshop class. Rob Wood, the graduate teaching assistant who organized GWTV, said he will update the channel’s content every Tuesday, adding a new edition of “The Source” and a new student production line-up. Channel 6’s content is repeated 24 hours a day.
Organizers said they are open to running more student-produced programming if it is submitted. Students interested in broadcasting their productions can visit www.GW-TV.com.
About three weeks ago, Wood approached sophomore Brian Weiss, who was organizing the online television station GW-TV.com, to help with Channel 6.
Weiss said GW-TV.com was initially going to operate solely as an Internet television station but quickly changed direction when Wood approached Weiss.
“Seeing the students producing all of this stuff and also seeing the faculty, engineers and facilities that were sitting there, I was in the position to pull all of the pieces together,” Wood said.
Channel 6 uses SMPA equipment and space to broadcast. Organizers set up a terminal in an SMPA editing suite and have limited access to editing stations and equipment. Because Wood is a graduate teaching assistant, he has access to facilities that are usually only available to classes.
Students must film their productions using their own cameras. Wood then uses a digital broadcaster machine to loop and broadcast the content.
Harmic said Channel 6 organizers and SMPA would need to create a plan if they want to continue broadcasting after Wood leaves. Options include making Channel 6 a part of a graduate class, granting a graduate stipend for a student responsible for overseeing the project or possibly allowing an undergraduate to run the station, depending on how SMPA officials feel, Harmic said.
Officials said many students have tried to start a student-run station in the past but they fell apart once organizers graduated. Four years ago, a group tried to use the channel, but lost interest after only two broadcasts.
Harmic said the current group looks promising because it is starting with a wide base of a few hundred interested students.
“By the time you peak to the real number of people involved, there will be enough people to keep it going,” she said.
Wood said he eventually hopes to broadcast material produced exclusively for Channel 6.
“Right now we’re starting small to show SMPA what we can do, and hopefully we’ll be able to grow from there,” Wood said.
Weiss said he intends to run a Web site companion to the cable channel, but GW-TV.com is no longer a primary focus.
This article appeared in the November 17, 2003 issue of the Hatchet.