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NKU Student-Produced Live Sports Broadcasts Earn "A" Grade from Horizon League

Northern Kentucky University was given a straight-A report card from the Horizon League for the school's student-produced television sports broadcasts on ESPN3.

The production crew is led professionally by faculty members Wes Akers and Bill Farro as head engineer and co-producer, and the other 11 or so positions on the crew are filled by students.

Akers graduated from NKU in 1996 and went on the career path of sports video production. When he returned in 2004 as a teacher, he created a class where students could learn about live television productions. The program went from producing about 10 men's basketball games to airing almost all of NKU sports home conference games. Over the years, the productions have transitioned from analog to digital to the current high-definition production.

The production value now meets the standards set forth by ESPN.

"It's always nice when someone you really don't know gives you an independent professional evaluation of your work and it's a reaffirmation of what we're doing and that we're doing things the right way. The person doing the grading came to our production truck in the fall to meet us and observe how we do things and it was nice having a conversation with him because I could tell he had real professional television experience,” Akers said.

In the time that the program has been in place, multiple students have gone on to work professionally in televised sports production all over the country. Those that become involved with NKU television typically enjoy the work they perform, said Akers.

“Everybody knows what they're doing and we have the technical equipment and support. It's a good time. It's a pretty fast-paced dynamic and environment so you're constantly adjusting to what's going on and the students have to work with each other,” Akers said. “There is a great sense of accomplishment when everyone in the crew works together to do their job to produce a high-quality product for our audience.”

The unit has four camera operators, a graphics person, an audio technician and a replay system at its disposal. Senior Elliot Ringo is a student on the crew who works as a computer graphics operator and has contributed to the productions for four years while at NKU.

“Since I've been here, we've had multiple employees. Everyone really looks forward to going to work, it's a really laid back atmosphere. Nothing is really forced on you because you can sign up when you want to work. You can choose your own hours. You get to watch a sport and learn how it's done in the big leagues considering it's ESPN3 that broadcasts it,” Ringo said about his job on campus. “I intend to continue to work in sports. I actually also work for the Cincinnati Reds in their in-house production which I got that job because of the experience that I have here.”

In 2013, ESPN included an NKU dunk highlight from the student production on its nationally televised SportsCenter as one of the day's top-10 plays. This is the first season that NKU athletics has competed in the Horizon League and already, the production crew has set the highest standard for their work.

Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor