"Actually we just found out yesterday through an e-mail that we had won," said Becky Kiser, assistant professor of information networking and telecommunications at Fort Hays State University.
Kiser discovered Nov. 12 that the DVD entry "Media Studies at Fort Hays State University," designed by five FHSU students last spring, had been awarded first-place in the Instructional/Industrial/Promotional Program category in the National Broadcasting Society's Heartland Regional Convention.
The NBS Heartland Regional, which consists of Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Indiana, was held in Sioux Falls, SD, Oct. 30-Nov. 1.
"This is the third time in the last four years that FHSU has won the video production category for the Heartland Region," said Dr. Mark Bannister, chair of the Department of Information Networking and Telecommunications. "The entries are judged by electronic media professionals, which enhances the program's reputation in a multi-state area."
Kiser said that she and the students were not able to attend the competition as they normally do, so the award came as a complete surprise when she received an e-mail informing her of the victory.
"Shock. I couldn't believe it! I knew we did a good job, but I never thought we would win," said Lindsay Matz, Lincolnville senior. "I'm excited to see how it will do at nationals in March!"
Matz, one of the five who worked on the DVD, said that she first got involved in the media studies program because of her love for music. As a senior in the media studies field, she and the others were required to complete a Capstone project, demonstrating what they have learned in the program.
"Since my group was all media students, we decided to do an interactive DVD to promo the department," she said. "VHS tapes had been made, but never a DVD, so we thought it would be something fun to try. We did not decide to enter it in the competition until it was completed. After all that time working on it we figured we might as well."
Matz said the project took almost the entire spring semester to create. The group compiled and conducted interviews with alumni and included an awards list of the Media Studies Program, a tour of the radio station and segments from KFHS-TV, the student-operated television station.
Also included on the DVD is the award-winning interview with NBC Sports personality Bob Costas conducted by Dru Miller, Russell senior, and team members Jenna Stout, Plainville graduate, and Ryan Newton, Ellis senior. The interview was recorded for KFHS-TV at last year's Heartland Regional, where Costas was a keynote speaker.
The interview can be seen online at http://www.fhsu.edu/int/mediastudies/index.shtml.
"I'm mainly a radio major and did not have all the training for shooting the video, so I mainly helped writing the proposal and viewing past tapes from features," Matz said. "I also helped edit the features for the DVD."
Newton said that he basically did a little bit of everything, which included editing, filming, graphics, music selection and writing the video.
Members Nathan Burgess, McPherson senior, Matt Bieker, Hays senior, and Stout also worked with the editing, filming and interviewing processes.
Recently, the DVD has been copied and is being used as a recruitment tool for high school students.
"I think that this is a great way for the students to realize what Fort Hays has to offer," Kiser said. "With the Internet, CDs and DVDs, technology like this is very accessible and appealing to them.
"The DVD is great because it makes Fort Hays look good, which high school students find really important," she said. "It also features alumni telling about their experiences here, so it gives it a very personal aspect."
"The video moves at a pretty fast pace. It involves students, instructors, professionals, and alumni of Fort Hays State University," Newton said. "I think prospective students want to hear about the program from all who are and were once involved in media studies."
"I am really fond of the final project," he said. "I think high school students will like the video because it shows that students get involved in media studies from the minute they walk in the door."
Kiser said that the DVDs were just sent out Nov. 6 to counselors at Kansas high schools that have a media studies program.
"The packing took us a little longer than we had anticipated," Kiser said. "Each of the DVDs come in cases, though, like store-bought movies, and include covers that provide information about the university. So they're pretty cool."
"Besides being a great promotion for the university, this is also a great way for the department to stay abreast of the technology," Kiser said. "However, the main focus for us is the content of the media. The technology is important, but you have to have great content to be of value. Technology will always change."
In previous interviews, past and present INT students have said that FHSU has managed to excel above other universities in both the content and the technology aspects of the media studies field because of the many opportunities available to students.
"The INT Media Studies Program offers students a wide range of experience," Newton said. "Students have the opportunity from day one to work on all the production equipment. Also, you can work on programs as a freshman."
"We offer hands-on training as soon as you get here," Matz said. "Some of the larger universities make you wait until your junior or senor year for TV and radio productions. All media classes relate to what you will be doing in the studios. Freshmen can even be news anchors if they try out and get picked."
"Since I've been here, we've had the biggest group of media studies students who have come in with some sort of previous background, whether that be through high school or just messing around on the computer with programs like Photoshop," Kiser said. "All of these things have just made this a fantastic semester!"
Kiser said that by using technology like the DVD sent to high schools, it will continue to entice students interested in these technological opportunities to enroll at FHSU. She said that since DVD technology is so abundant today, it's a great way to promote that message.
"The funny thing is, I'm probably the only one who doesn't have a DVD player in my house," Kiser said with a laugh. "I've got one on my computer here though!"