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COVID can’t stop this school’s news show

The show will go on for Whitney High School's Broadcast Media class--here's how students and faculty kept the program running

Creating a daily morning TV show is just one part of what makes school life at Whitney High School in Rocklin, CA so unique for the broadcast media class.

With the school on lockdown and everyone remote learning, the production team had to overcome new challenges to continue communicating from individual student homes.

Although the school year is over, students are already thinking about how they will deliver their show if distance learning is still in effect in the fall. They’ve already worked on new graphics packages and discussed how to rise to the potential challenges that may come up when school resumes.

Related content: 6 ways to prep kids for whatever the fall may hold

One thing is clear: things will be different. Take live events as an example– last year, Whitney won Student Television Network’s Best High School Live Event in the nation for its Friday night football productions. The school has won first or second place every year in the last eight years. Even if games are allowed to be played, people in high risk groups will likely stay home, so the broadcast team wants to ensure it can deliver the best experience possible for remote viewers.

When it comes to the group’s daily show, Unleashed, it’s possible that even if the school is open, there may be staggered schedules to lower building occupancy, so some presenters and students may again need to broadcast from home. Normally, Unleashed is recorded “live to tape” using Telestream’s Wirecast from 7:45 to 9 a.m. every weekday morning. It is then played out over, the school’s TV station, at 9:20 a.m. when all students are in their classes. Although students would like to do the show live, the way the school’s class schedules have been set up, it’s not been possible.

Bringing it all together

The broadcast media team at Whitney uses a variety of equipment to deliver their award-winning daily broadcasts. The studio cameras are switched by a Black Magic ATEM switcher, while NewBlue Titler Live is used to supply lower thirds and other title sequences. Telestream’s ScreenFlow software is used to capture social media contributions from students which feature prominently in the program. All of these sources are fed into Telestream Wirecast, some of it live over the network via NDI, where it is then recorded to disk for a slightly delayed broadcast. Wirecast is also used to key green screen content for the weather segment.

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