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It's Showtime

THE PREMIERE OF BUTV10

By Vicky Waltz

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Jason Marcus ('07) doesn't get much sleep these days. A film major, he has a lot on his mind. He's enrolled in upper-level television and film courses, he's preparing to spend a semester in Los Angeles in the spring and he's the student general manager of the newly launched butv10: TerrierVision, Boston University's first and only student-run television station.

Marcus landed his first internship at a Manhattan-based talent agency during his senior year of high school, and as a COM student, he has worked on Bay State, the country's longest-running college soap opera, in addition to cocreating late-night talk show BU Tonight. Marcus' prime accomplishment, however, is helping to launch butv10.

"A student-run television station is something I came to BU wanting to be involved in and wanting to help start up," he says. "I mean, it's amazing that we never had a station, and now, here we are. Eventually, we hope to be the best college television station in the country."

Indeed, "the station has landed," boasts the butv10 Web site, and it has been a long time coming, says Christophor Cavalieri ('81), assistant professor of television and faculty advisor of butv10. "It wasn't until the University was wired for cable that there could be a student channel for the campus community," he says.

Cavalieri describes butv10 as "a lab environment for students to gain experience in all facets of operating and managing a media outlet," and Marcus stresses that working at the station is as close to real-world experience as it gets. "Everything is done very professionally," he says. "We schedule all of our lineups in advance, and before anything goes on air, it must be fully edited and digitized."

In addition to drama and comedy series, butv10 presents a number of news programs and talk shows that focus on current events and hot topics. "Our lineup is surprisingly fresh," Marcus says, "in part because of the broadcast journalism students. When they produce news shows in their classes, we end up broadcasting most of them."

  Bay State Executive Producer Arestia Rosenberg ('07) speaks with actor Jarman Day-Bohn ('08), whike Amanda Brown adjusts her camera. Photograph: Jessica Schnall
 

Bay State Executive Producer Arestia Rosenberg ('07) speaks with actor Jarman Day-Bohn ('08), whike Amanda Brown adjusts her camera. Photograph: Jessica Schnall

   

Butv10 has already generated interest among a number of students, both at COM and other schools. Between butv10 and Growling Dog Productions, a student production company, at least 200 students are involved. Admittedly, turnover due to graduation is a challenge. "We constantly have to replenish, but at the same time we don't want to lose our momentum," Cavalieri says. "The earlier students get involved, the better."

The organization's structure is nearly as complex as the station itself. Currently, a core team of three to four dozen students manages the basic operation, and another 150 students work on various program and production projects. An eight-member student management board oversees the bulk of the station's direction by working with Cavalieri and technical engineer Jake Kassan, who, in turn, report to a 10-member faculty advisory committee.

Establishing a television station was no easy task, and once given the green light, Cavalieri and his team didn't have much time to do it. Beginning in September 2005, members of the student management board worked overtime to create logos, new programs and a Web site, in addition to supervising scriptwriting, acting and shooting. "Members of the student management board recognized that, first and foremost, butv10 needs to serve its viewing audience with interesting, entertaining and educational content," Cavalieri says. "And while I think they were initially surprised at how much work went into setting up the channel's organizational structure, they also fully embraced those challenges."

While student television productions such as Bay State and the sci-fi serial Shadows have been around for more than a decade, until butv10 there was no place for those shows to air, and the only way BU students could watch them was at on-campus screenings. "I think the people involved in the shows are beginning to recognize they're no longer working on a student playground," says Dave Runkle ('07), technical operations coordinator. "We have an actual outlet, now that we're being broadcast to the entire BU community."

In 1991, when Delaina Dixon ('92) and Tom Rotolo ('93) created Bay State, Dixon, now a celebrity columnist, was disappointed that few of her classmates actually got to watch the show. "Just knowing that your hard efforts will be viewed is a great motivator to complete a project," she says. "And for alumni like Tom and me, butv10 allows us to see how our baby has evolved."

Prior to the station's launch, on February 22, 2006, butv10 was part of Growling Dog Productions, which now produces a number of programs for the station, including veteran shows such as Bay State, BU Tonight, Shadows, Inside Boston and Overexposed. Under the supervision of butv10, additional productions, including Pinnacle, Rendered and Terrier Nation were added to the lineup, and the station also produces one-minute hourly news updates in conjunction with BU Today, the University's online news source.

Having produced nine hours of material each weekday during its initial semester, the station has bumped up its airtime to 15 hours a day during the 2006–2007 school year. Programs are accessible on Channel 10 in any Boston University building wired for cable; the station's Web site includes streaming video and eventually will add on-demand viewings.

According to Cavalieri, linking the whole BU community is the station's ultimate goal. "Students who come to BU, by and large, lead a vertical existence," he explains. "In other words, they attend a particular college, and their existence is typically defined by their time within that college. But there are many horizontal structures within the University, and butv10 strives to be a bridging mechanism that brings the entire campus together through common interests and a common purpose."

Faculty advisor Christopher Cavalieri ('81) works with Alyssa Weuss ('08).  

Faculty advisor Christopher Cavalieri ('81) works with Alyssa Weuss ('08).

 
   

"One thing we want to stress is that butv10 is not just a COM resource," Marcus says. "It's a University resource."

Rotolo, who is production manager of the NBC hit day-time drama Passions, foresees that the station will be an excellent networking tool. "As someone working in the industry, I know how valuable the production experience I got at BU was, and anything that complements that experience is a major asset for graduates coming into the workplace," he says. "The butv10 Web site is a great way for alumni to see what's coming out of COM, but more importantly, it's a way for industry professionals to scout for talent."

Because the station has increased its airtime, student management board members are always on the lookout for new shows. As the student programming coordinator, Giselle Rivers ('07) is in charge of developing, recruiting, reviewing and scheduling all shows. "I work closely with people who are developing new shows and I'm constantly assessing our lineup to see what programming is needed to enhance what we already have," she says. "It's a challenge to keep the lineup interesting."

Within the next year, the station plans to expand its schedule by collaborating with the Office of Student Life, BU Central, the College of Fine Arts and the Athletics Department. "There is an abundance of good stories to be told here," Cavalieri says. "And ultimately, butv10 is more than a creative outlet for students, faculty and alumni. This channel is evidence of our students' capabilities to be responsible stewards of a media outlet, and that's no small task."

BUTV10 ORIGINALS

GROWLING DOG PRODUCTIONS

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