UPTV to come back on air

By Gideon Bradshaw

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Laughter and gleeful exclamations leaked out of the UPTV office on the fourth floor of the… Laughter and gleeful exclamations leaked out of the UPTV office on the fourth floor of the William Pitt Union Tuesday night.

About six students stayed after the student-run television station’s meeting to discuss its return to channel 21 — aired in University residence halls — on Feb. 17.

The students threw around ideas for one of the new shows, called “Life of an RA.”

“It will be funny, but also kind of deal with real issues that people run into when they come and they start going to college,” said junior Rachelle Haynik.

The revival comes after a two-year UPTV hiatus that stemmed from technical broadcasting issues, which members managed to fix about three weeks ago. UPTV members don’t know why they weren’t able to broadcast for so long, but Pitt’s Computing Services and Systems Development recently reconfigured the station’s connection.

Because of turnover in leadership and lack of information passed down, until recently no one at UPTV knew how to upload videos to the station.

Drea Richards, a senior who has been with the club for more than three years, explained that during the 2009-2010 academic year, the station broadcast intermittently, though no one could explain what barred the station from broadcasting regularly.

The following year, the station couldn’t broadcast at all.

Last semester, after searching for more than a year for a solution to the glitch, senior Ernast Sevo, the UPTV president, and other members of the club got in touch with an employee from Pitt’s Computing Services and Systems Development, who reconfigured the station’s connection to channel 21.

“We’ve had to rediscover a lot of stuff that would have been good to know,” Sevo said. He added that about 25 students currently make up UPTV.

Sevo said that he does not foresee any further issues with broadcasting, as more of the members are now savvy about the technical side of running the station.

Sevo has been airing videos on the channel sporadically for the last three weeks in order to draw attention to its return. When mid-February comes, the club will resume airing videos between noon and 4 a.m.

Between now and then, the club plans to notify Pitt’s student body of its return to the airwaves through flyers and tables in high-traffic areas like Towers Lobby.

But UPTV has made sure to keep up its online presence during its time off air.

Members have maintained a YouTube account, in addition to Twitter and Facebook pages, where they upload their work.

“I think more people will be interested in making things now that we will be on the air,” said Sam Potter, a senior who has been an active contributor at the station since he was a freshman.

Though Sevo is waiting until after the club begins broadcasting regularly to set an official programming schedule, brainstorming is abundant.

Just as in the past, the station will broadcast student-made projects like short films, television shows and sports, in addition to other programming.

Haynik, who started with UPTV freshman year, said that she intends to continue many of the club’s traditions.

“We do this thing called a 24-hour film festival where we meet at noon on a Saturday … We come up with an idea for a skit, write it, produce it and air it at noon the next day,” she said.

Students who participate in the film festivals usually produce whimsical comedy sketches and satirical short films about University life. But students have created other types of work during these sessions as well.

Haynik mentioned a 20-minute biography of Abraham Lincoln filmed by students — the log cabin on the Cathedral lawn served as Lincoln’s childhood home.

Also incorporating Pitt’s campus were other shows the club aired before the station’s interruption, such as the “Amazing Elevator” series, which will resume in a few weeks.

“Amazing Elevator” featured a UPTV crew member riding an elevator in Forbes Hall, asking unsuspecting passengers simple trivia questions about the University and awarding prizes like toilet paper for correct answers.

New UPTV members also look forward to making contributions.

Freshmen Nikki Abban and Monica Khan will host a regularly aired talk show, “#College Problems.”

“It [will be] a genuine show about realities of life at Pitt,” Khan said.

With members already showing so much interest, Sevo hopes to expand funding beyond UPTV’s current yearly budget of $3,000, which comes from the Student Activities Fund and primarily goes to upkeep for the station’s equipment.

“Personally, I’m very excited that we’re going to be broadcasting again,” Sevo said. “I’m hoping it will bring in a lot of new people, and give them a chance to show their work.”

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