Three hours til air. The crew of KFHS-TV, Fort Hays State University's premiere student operated news program, hurriedly works to finalize the script, set up the news room stage and prepare for the 5 p.m. show time.
Then comes an announcement: No show will air today (Oct. 16). The station's satellite dish won't send the signal and cannot be repaired until next Tuesday. The video editing machine is also not working, making it impossible to transition between shots in the broadcast.
Frustrated, the crew takes the day off but plans to do the show the next Thursday.
Originally airing three years ago on Channel 12 as just a news broadcast, KFHS-TV has since joined the National Lampoon Network -- a network which focuses programming on college students -- airing at 5 p.m. every Thursday on Channel 58 in Hays, the same channel used for Hays High broadcasting. The station began its second televised season with Channel 58 on Oct. 2.
Every aspect of the show is done by students -- running the video cameras, writing the stories and operating the switchboard that controls sound and video.
"News 58," the 30-minute live news program which began KFHS-TV, is co-anchored by Dru Miller, Russell senior, and Shannon Snell, Jewell freshman. Jennifer Norman, Garden City freshman, is the weather anchor and Casey McAvory, Offerle sophomore, reports the sports. "News 58" is produced by Sara Schwantes, Lindsborg sophomore, Ryan Newton, Ellis senior, and Taryn Everhart, Dodge City junior.
"Coming into news, I first wanted to be on the air," Everhart said. "My first semester I was an anchor and my second I was a reporter. Last year I was told that I should give producing a try and that's currently what I'm doing."
"As a producer, what I do is basically sit down and produce an entire 30-minute show. It usually takes about three to three and a half hours to put together the show," Everhart said. She was speaking about an hour into her work on that day's script before the show was halted. "I actually enjoy it more than being on air because I get to control what goes on."
Everhart said that all of her experience at KFHS-TV paid off when she interned for KAKE-TV in Wichita over the summer.
"All of the hands-on experience at KFHS is fantastic! As a freshman, they just let you loose. In many other schools, you'd have to wait until you were a junior or senior before you were able to touch the equipment," Everhart said.
"If I wasn't involved in this, I would have had no idea what real news is about," she said.
"It's a big eye-opener for most students," said Becky Kiser, assistant professor of information networking and telecommunications at FHSU. "So many of them don't realize the amount of detailed work that goes into creating a show until they are a part of it. It's also a great opportunity for students to express themselves in a very dynamic and exciting setting."
Each "News 58" episode is followed by two of the eight other student shows -- two of which are still in production -- airing at 5:45 p.m. and 6 p.m. "Outside 58" and "In the Red Zone" were scheduled to air before the satellite signal failed.
Everhart said that even though these shows last only 15 minutes, a lot of time and effort are spent producing them.
"A lot of the new shows were formed because of all of the incoming student involvement," Everhart said. "Several of the new ones were created in big brain-storm sessions while others, like 'The Buzz,' were turned over to new people who came up with whole new aspects."
"In the Red Zone" is a returning show that focuses on sports and athletes at FHSU. John Hutton, Red Cloud, NE, junior, discusses these topics with Michael Jenkins, St. Francis senior, Joel Ewy, Jetmore freshman, and Jamie Geist, Hays senior.
"The Help Desk," one of this year's new shows, features new technology and answers common technological questions. The hosts and producers are Nolan Banks, Wichita sophomore, and Jason Adkins, Hutchinson sophomore.
"Order of Importance" is a panel discussion show, similar to Bill Maher's "Politically Incorrect." Micah Mertes, Colwich freshman, is the host and producer of "Order."
"Outside 58" makes the news when reporters ask campus students questions regarding campus issues. Stacey Wycoff, LaCrosse sophomore, hosts the show and Amanda Randel, Hesston senior, produces it.
The popular entertainment show "The Buzz" returns this year with host Amy Schmeidler, Hays senior, and producer Ashley Maddern, El Dorado junior.
"Pet Smarts," hosted by Tressie Bryant, Penokee junior, is another addition to the KFHS-TV line-up and is still in the works. The show will feature interviews with local veterinarians regarding pet care.
"Inside Campus," also still in development, will be hosted by Kaycee Karlin, Hays freshman, and will feature interviews with members of FHSU student organizations and clubs. The show is produced by Karlin and Ross Montgomery, Beloit junior.
Matt Larson, Ellsworth senior, hosts "For the Record," a discussion with FHSU Student Government Association senators on current issues. The show is produced by Jeff Bitikofer, Hesston senior and KFHS-TV student station manager.
"We would like to be able to provide even more original programming in the future," Kiser said. "As more diverse people get involved, a wider variety of programming will become available."
Previous episodes of shows are archived online in RealPlayer format and can be accessed by visiting the KFHS-TV home page at www.fhsu.edu/int/kfhstv/archives or www.kfhs.net.
"Normally, the immediate audience would be the Hays public, but the great thing about the Web is that it allows for someone in Utah to watch it," Kiser said. "It's great because parents who don't live in Hays can watch what their child is a part of."
Other KFHS-TV reporters, photographers and technical crew include Nathan Burgess, McPherson senior; Chris Colwell, Hays senior; Brandon Cooley, Hays senior; Doug Cure, Hanston freshman; Jess DeClue, Pratt senior; Sarah Hawkins, Atwood senior; Kate Honeck, Hillsboro sophomore; Bill Korb, Indianola, NE, senior; Matt Leis, Hays sophomore; Arieh Levy, Hays freshman; Lindsey Matz, Lincolnville senior; Kolissa McVay, Plains senior; Tabitha Plante, Hays special graduate; Taryn Poling, Colby sophomore; Addie Warner, Hutchinson sophomore; Heather Wilson, New Cambria sophomore; and Lorissa Wright, Concordia senior.
"KFHS-TV is just so beneficial to students because it gives them a lot of practice producing, writing scripts, filming, editing and everything else that goes into creating a program," said Bitikofer, speaking shortly after a day's programming was lost to technical difficulty.
"It's also a good learning experience for all of us," he continued, sounding optimistic despite the day's cancellation. "Like today, we're learning how to deal with the broken equipment. Hands-on is just the best way to learn what you're doing."