SIU Athletic Department getting rid of student hands-on positions within ESPN production truck

Dennis+Galloway%2C+SIU+MCMA+RTD+Senior+Lecturer%2C+makes+calls+and+oversees+the+Saluki+Football+broadcast+Sept.+25%2C+2021+in+the+production+trailer+outside+of+Saluki+Stadium+in+Carbondale%2C+Ill.

Kylen Lunn | [email protected]

Dennis Galloway, SIU MCMA RTD Senior Lecturer, makes calls and oversees the Saluki Football broadcast Sept. 25, 2021 in the production trailer outside of Saluki Stadium in Carbondale, Ill.

In order to cut some costs, Saluki Athletics has gotten rid of some hands-on student positions within the athletic department’s video production department.

The Missouri Valley Conference and the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network are currently in the middle of a 10-year deal to produce student-staffed telecasts to air on some of ESPN’s streaming services. These productions include coverage of different sports including,  Soccer, Volleyball, Football, Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Baseball, and Softball.

These productions give students the opportunity to get experience with a wide variety of different positions that go into a live telecast. Students can get their hands on replay, camerawork, graphics, and audio training with each broadcast. However, the cuts are affecting student’s abilities to work in  some of these positions, and are leaving students with fewer opportunities than there had been in years past.

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Dennis Galloway, a senior lecturer in the RTD department at SIU, is the director of these student-staffed telecasts. Galloway said the changes are to move SIU towards a new and different format for their broadcasts.

“Things have been happening within the last year as a means to save some costs where we do what’s called REMI productions, which stand for Remote Integration. Everything used to originate from Carbondale: cameras, replays, graphics, stuff like that. Now using the internet, we’re sending our cameras to Kansas City in a control room,” Galloway said.

This means that specific positions within the production truck, including replay, graphics, and audio operators will no longer be staffed by SIU students. Instead these positions will now be staffed by employees that the production company, LTN media, hand picks for experience within their headquarters.

From the university’s point of view, the changes are a great idea in order to save on costs, but for students looking to get more experience in this field of study, it could be a huge disadvantage in their field of study.

Junior radio, television, and digital media major, Matthew Koss, is one of several students directly affected by the changes. Koss got substantial time as a camera and replay operator for a large number of ESPN telecasts within the university. With the new decision to go to REMI productions, Koss will no longer be able to receive the well-rounded experience he once had.

“I definitely miss it now,” Koss said “I definitely could see myself doing that later on, but that’s a lot of the reason why I find myself so disappointed with a lot of the positions moving to Kansas City, because I wanted to learn bits and pieces of the truck to see what I liked. I was looking forward to learning other things to really see if that’s what I wanted to do.” 

Koss said that he’ll miss being able to learn all the different positions, as well as the relationships he made with the other workers in the production truck

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“I miss the opportunity to learn more because I wanted to learn what the technical director does and I’m kinda sad I don’t get to do that now. You get a taste of the camaraderie also. We wouldn’t just be doing our jobs, we would be screwing around with each other and stuff and it was fun being in that space with people,” Koss said. 

Students aren’t the only ones being affected by some of the changes in a negative way. Galloway said some of the communication between him and the new employees within ESPN have made things a bit more complicated.

“In the past, it was a lot easier to make changes, communicate things, make corrections, but with part of the crew being in Kansas City, that line of communication is compromised a little bit. It’s not as easy to do the production as well as we can. It’s been a bit of a challenge for the learning curve of the people in Kansas City and for myself not having done these sorts of productions before,” Galloway said.

Although some of the positions within the production truck will be eliminated for students, there are still opportunities for experience in different types of environments similar to the production truck at SIU.

With every broadcast SIU does with ESPN, the stadiums also have their own broadcast feed that gets put on the video board at either the Banterra Center, or Saluki Stadium.  The coordinator of Video Services at SIU, Brad Gray, is in charge of these telecasts within the stadium. Gray said there are still a large number of opportunities available to students within the scoreboard productions in stadiums.

“There are some things you might not be able to get your hands on as often, but there are still opportunities. It might not be directed towards an ESPN broadcast, but a lot of those things work towards the video board and ESPN together,” Gray said.

He said students interested in sporting productions will still find plenty to do.

“You can run a camera, be an announcer, do something at the scorer’s table to call the action, that stuff is still here. You can still do video on the truck and shade cameras and stuff. There are still opportunities, some of them might not be in the same presence that it was,” Gray said.

Galloway said sports-oriented students need to get as active as possible, but he ackowledges something will be lacking.

“I had to go through the proper steps of learning the different positions, which ultimately made me a better director. With the way things are now, students aren’t going to get that same sort of experience, at least not out here. We were able to better prepare the students in the past. They’ll still have opportunities presented to them in the job world, but not quite as well-rounded as it had been in the past,” Galloway said.

Koss said he used the opportunity in the truck to try out as many positions as he could get his hands on.

“It’s nice to test the water while you’re in school, and that’s what this is for. When you’re out of school you have to know what you want to do. I want to use that experience to figure out what I want to do in the truck by the time I’m done with college,” Koss said.

Gray says the program still has plenty to offer.

“I want it to be a learning experience for students and to be able to get their hands on things and although it might be a little different, there are still plenty of opportunities,” Gray said

Sports reporter Joseph Bernard can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @Jojobernard2001. To stay up to date on all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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