Monthly Archives: June 2021

Temporary Radio Studio for WGMU Summer Camp

For most of the past 25 years (last year was an exception for obvious reasons), WGMU, our radio station, has run a summer camp for middle and high school students.

Even though Coronavirus seems to be diminishing in the United States (knock on wood), our University still has restrictions in place for summer camps since the majority of people under 18 are not vaccinated.

One of the restrictions in place is social distancing. Given the small size of our three radio studios, we can only fit two campers per studio, for a total of six campers.

Unfortunately, that is a big problem since the radio station relies on the revenue from the camp to sustain their operations. And we can’t absorb less revenue given the massive hits our budget has taken. Once again, we had to get creative.

The solution:

Temp Studio for Radio Camp

Temp Studio for Radio Camp

I set up a temporary radio studio in our conference room using equipment we use for remotes, equipment from the TV station and equipment from our “graveyard”.

The graveyard is where I keep older, but still functional, equipment in case I have to replace newer equipment that fails. Occasionally, the equipment gets a second lease on life if I can find a new use for it. I pull equipment from the graveyard all the time. Good thing I’m a hoarder!

The equipment:

  • 1x Sennheiser MD 421 on the beige OC White Mic arm.
  • 2x Shure SM58 on the black MXL arms.
  • 1x Yamaha MG102C Mixer
  • 1x Rolls RA53b Headphone Amplifier
  • 1x Logitech X140 Speakers
  • 1x Dell Latitude E6430 Laptop

The Yamaha mixer is part of our remote setup. The Shure SM58’s and laptop are from the TV station. Everything else is from the graveyard.

2020-2021 Sports Broadcasting Year in Review

I am continuing our yearly tradition of looking back at what happened during the academic year. And it was quite the year, for many reasons.

If you are wondering why I’m writing this review instead of Zach Hamilton, it is because he graduated and now has a full-time job at NBC Sports Washington (just like Tyler, although they’re in different departments).

The year started quietly, with no sports in the Fall semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then we received word that we would be returning to action, broadcasting both the Fall and Spring sports during the Spring semester, with Wrestling thrown on top for good measure. At one point, we were looking at over 90 broadcasts.

Ultimately, we did 75 broadcasts this year. The schedule was constantly in flux due to COVID-19 “pauses” where teams were unable to complete due to positive cases somewhere within their programs. Additionally, we saw a very cold February where we were unable to do any outdoor sports until near the end of the month (Women’s Soccer vs. Georgetown on February 25). Even then, we still completed more broadcasts this year compared to last.

We worked as hard as we could to keep our crew safe with masks, gloves and as much social distancing as we could manage in the cramped press boxes. To aid with social distancing, we had to find a way to have less people working inside the press box. In the end, we figured a way that the color commentator and replay operator could work remotely. This impressed several people, with our counterparts at George Washington University calling us and asking us how we pulled it off.

Remote Commentator during Softball vs. St Bonaventure on March 14, 2021

Remote Commentator during Softball vs. St Bonaventure on March 14, 2021. Left: Valerie Preactor. Right: Brian McSweeney.

Sometimes people would work from home, sometimes they would work out of our office in The Hub. Since our video studio in The Hub wasn’t used by Mason Cable Network this year (MCN produced all of their shows remotely), we reconfigured it for color commentators. Future site of half-time shows …?

The Hub Video Studio

The Hub Video Studio

I am grateful that we managed to complete the year without any COVID-19 pauses of our own.

We also got the opportunity to try our hand at a couple of new sports. Up first was the A-10 Diving Championships on April 15 and 16. For some reason, the A-10 decided to separate swimming and diving at the last minute. The swimming events continued as planned at Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio, but the diving events came to George Mason. This was our first ever broadcast from the Aquatic and Fitness Center, and I think we did a great job considering the short turnaround. I have to say that the pace of dives was a lot quicker than we expected.

A-10 Diving Championships April 16, 2021

A-10 Diving Championships April 16, 2021

Next up was the A-10 Outdoor Track and Field Championships on May 1 and 2. Technically, this was the second track broadcast we did, with the first being in April 2018, which we did as part of Trent Lancaster’s senior project. Speaking of Trent Lancaster, he came back to help us with these broadcasts. Good thing too, since this was easily the most complex broadcasts we ever did.

Compared with our first broadcast, we covered every single track event and added all the field events.  This included the throwing field events across the street. It took pretty much every single piece of equipment we had to pull this off. It was so complex, that Zach Hamilton, Collin Teslez, Cruz Sanchez and myself had to go over a day earlier to run all the cabling.

A-10 Outdoor Track and Field Championships May 2, 2021

A-10 Outdoor Track and Field Championships May 2, 2021. From left to right, Zach Hamilton, Jordan Jacobsen, David Carroll, Josh Yourish and Trent Lancaster.

We finally added a remote-controlled “PTZ” outfield cam at Spuhler Field. After years of effort, we finally got it and it’s great! Not only is the quality better, but I don’t have to climb a ladder every game to mount a camera anymore. For some reason, I didn’t take a picture of the PTZ installed, but here’s a picture of the camera after I assembled and tested it. Thanks to everyone who made it happen, including Jay Marsh and Jeff O’Bier.

PTZ Camera on the "Test Bench"

PTZ Camera on the “Test Bench”

The “Iron Man” of the year is Oscar Avelar, who did 39 broadcasts. Oscar also stepped in as broadcast director one particularly busy weekend when Zach, Collin and I were tied up. Honorary mention goes to Long Tran who did two less broadcasts than Oscar, but actually clocked more hours thanks to a lot of lengthy baseball broadcasts.

Congratulations to our graduating seniors Oscar Avelar, Jon Linney, Valerie Preactor and Collin Telesz. Collin will return as graduate student however.

Last Sports Broadcast of the Season May 22, 2021

Last Sports Broadcast of the Season May 22, 2021. From left to right, Collin Telesz, Justin Moriarty, Zach Hamilton, David Carroll, Long Tran and Jon Linney.