Two seniors are spearheading efforts to revive GWTV – a student organization that has been largely inactive so far this year.
After three months of sporadic programming on the channel, seniors Matt Saunders and Curtis Raye have begun recruiting students to join the executive board of GW’s television group. Channel 6 is on the air with the School of Media and Public Affairs- sponsored and student-run news program “The Source.”
In early October, the former president of GWTV, senior Jelena Zupan, stepped down because of frustration over University and student support for the station.
“When it became clear that there was a lack of leadership in the organization, I volunteered to step up,” Saunders said.
He sent out a mass e-mail earlier this month advertising positions in the organization in an effort to recruit new members. The e-mail, sent to students in SMPA, requested that anyone interested in becoming involved in the organization apply to the five available executive board positions.
Saunders now acts as the organization’s general manager and Raye works as the station manager. They have not yet produced any original content and are accepting applications up until interviews begin Dec. 1.
“We realized that … we couldn’t reach the entire student body effectively. So we did our best to let word of mouth run its course by extending the deadline,” Raye said.
Neither senior was involved with GWTV prior to this year, which they said will help the new beginning of the organization.
“Being outsiders, we can start from scratch, since we don’t come in with any preconceived notions or strained relations,” Saunders said. Despite not working in GWTV, the seniors bring valuable experiences including Saunders being an electronic media major and Raye being a political communication major.
“I know they have been working very hard to organize the channel more logically and share responsibility and skills. And I really applaud that,” said Roxanne Russell, SMPA’s studio manager, associate professor of media and public affairs, and GWTV’s adviser, in an e-mail.
“We’re trying to streamline the process of getting grams onto GWTV, and keep them updated with the latest equipment and technologies,” she added.
Raye and Saunders both said the University is not at fault for the group’s struggles earlier this year. When Zupan resigned in October, she cited a lack of administrative and student support.
“We want to make it really clear that we have received nothing but support and good intentions with everyone we have been in contact with,” Saunders said.
Raye said SMPA has been helpful in providing the organization with studio production equipment, a first step in turning the organization around.
SMPA Director Lee Huebner said he believes that the restructured organization will benefit the entire University.
“I feel strongly that GWTV can make an important contribution to the GW community as a whole – and also to the education of those who work on it,” he said.
“All of us at SMPA would like to do whatever we can to support strong student leadership in the rebuilding of GWTV,” he added.
Vice President for Communication Michael Freedman said the administration supports GWTV, but because of the medium, it is hard to produce.
“My understanding about GWTV is it has largely been a student initiative … radio is easier to accomplish than television … So the process of creating television is simply more complex than the process of creating radio,” he said, comparing GWTV to the University’s student run radio station, WRGW.
GWTV was not an official student organization until Saunders and Raye registered with the Student Activities Center. Now, it is eligible to receive funding from the Student Association, and they are in the process of applying for it.
Instead of hurrying to put programs on the air, Saunders and Raye are working to establish solid groundwork for GWTV.
“Our goal is to do this slowly and to do this right,” Saunders said. “The priority is to put a structure that will allow the organization to continue past May (2007).”
Raye said he isn’t worried that there is enough student interest on campus.
“There will always be TV at GW because it’s a fun medium to participate in,” Raye said. “If we fail, others will try, but our goal is sustainability.”
The group hopes to plan new content for the television station focused on student and community events.
Saunders said, “We want to increase the degree of quality and put up programming that students will be interested in.”