Viking Views Winter/Spring

the first time we had all the home and away basketball conference games on-air.” Kujawa’s current broadcast partner, Joe Aull, began announcing football games in 2010 While the first year of VSN was similar to what had been done in the past, things started to change quickly starting in 2009, with the help of Stan Silvey, and the utilization of video broadcasts. “Things were very basic at first,” said Kujawa. “We had a basic tricaster and Jason [Rinne, Systems Administrator] would figure out a way to work around broadband issues so we could broadcast on game days, but those were very simplified video productions.” There have been significant upgrades to infrastructure and bandwidth availability over the years for Viking Sports Network broadcasts, but the early days required some creative solutions to get the games available to the public. “We initially installed a wireless bridge in the press box, because we didn’t have fiber running into the stadium,” said Rinne. “We quickly overwhelmed that connection, and we ended up running fiber from Young Hall to the stadium on a Thursday before a Saturday game.” That year also marked the first time that students at the College would start working on broadcasts. Students were able to obtain real-world experiences in what it was like to work a live sports broadcast. Students worked as in-game camera operators and on the production side leading up to broadcasts. The next big jump for the Viking Sports Network came in 2012, when Maddi was hired as an instructor at the College. Maddi previously worked as Assistant Production Manager at KOMU in Columbia, Mo., and worked to create a better quality broadcast, in terms of what people saw. “There were issues with the quality of video that was being put out,” said Maddi. “The administration has been tremendous in getting us what we have needed to create better broadcasts. We have a new TriCaster that allows us to create a consistent broadcast. Our new wireless camera and wireless headsets allow us to get shots from anywhere. Also, the move to Stretch [Internet] was a huge financial commitment.” Maddi added. The move to Stretch Internet came in the fall of 2017, and allowed for all broadcasts to be available in HD-quality video. Prior to partnering with Stretch Internet, VSN broadcast through LiveStream, which only allowed SD-quality video. “People are taking notice of our broadcasts, here and around the NAIA” said Maddi. “This has helped with branding and recruiting efforts at the

College, and our broadcasts look just as professional as those you find on ESPN3,” Maddi added. While those watching the broadcasts see and hear Kujawa and Aull regularly, the bulk of the behind-the-scenes work is done by students. Students are involved in nearly every aspect of each broadcast, from generating graphics, creating in-game content, camera work, sideline reports, and anything else needed to run a successful broadcast. Work on each broadcast begins in the days leading up to the event, as Maddi, Marketing and Mass Communications Graduate Assistant Juliana Doyle and students work on building graphics and getting equipment ready for use. On game days, the crew begins work four hours before a broadcast begins. So, for a 2 p.m., football kickoff on Homecoming, that means work starts by loading the equipment into vehicles for transport to Gregg-Mitchell Field at 10 a.m. “Nothing stays at the field,” said Maddi. “We set up the broadcast booth, set up wireless signals and get the cameras in the right spots. A few years ago, Jason [Rinne] wired the press box for audio and video, so it cuts down on the amount of cable we have to run.” Hundreds of feet of electric cable are laid out around the press box, connecting the two main cameras that are perched atop the stands. A full football broadcast will end up being around eight hours of work for the crew, but can extend to nearly 15 hours of work when factoring in the potential for a soccer doubleheader that follows an afternoon football game. One basketball game can take up to five hours of work, with a doubleheader lasting nearly eight hours. “We broadcast so many basketball games, that by the end of the semester, the students are usually waiting on me, rather than the other way around,” said Maddi. Word has spread across the conference and in the NAIA of the quality of the Viking Sports Network. “I hear from coaches when we go on the road about how much they like our broadcasts,” said Kujawa. “We have other schools around the NAIA contacting us on our set up and how we broadcast games,” said Maddi. Broadcasts go beyond just football and basketball, and include soccer, volleyball, wrestling, and lacrosse, and also the College’s Commencement ceremony held each May. “We have come a long way from doing soccer games on the radio,” said Kujawa. “Everyone involved has fun, and we all enjoy bringing these events to people.” 13

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