Students bring KSUA TV back to campus airwaves

Amelia Cooper/Sun Star Reporter
April 17, 2012

UAF film club member, Michael Schurz, advertises for Game Show auditions as he acts as a liaison between the sign up table and the casting crew on March 24. Amelia Cooper/ Sun Star

Deep beneath the University of Alaska Fairbanks music department and the Salisbury Theatre lies the Green Room, the location of the UAF Film Club’s live auditions for a new TV show.

Four tired film students, including Kalesha Pearson, the president of the film club, sat on top of Green Room tables, joking and swinging their legs. They were waiting for the next actor.

This is the first year since 2007 that KSUA has had an active television station, and its staff is fervently looking for content to put on the channel. The film club is one of the handful of student groups that have responded to the call.

Production Manager David Leslie and Program Manager Caleb Souder have worked for the station for less than a year, but in that time they have re-imagined the operational model.

“We’re actually technically broadcasting right now. Every hour or so you can watch some slides that mysteriously come on, ” Souder said.

“Yeah they’re for like chess clubs five years ago,” added Leslie.

“They’re not actually programmed to come on, they just do, ” Souder said.

Removing the slides from the programming is one of the duo’s main goals.

“Moving images are our business now,” Leslie said.

Leslie and Souder ordered a Roku box to stream programs such as “Democracy Now,” and production equipment to make creating new content more accessible.

Leslie has been a student since the last time KSUA had a TV station.

“I’d barely known that there was a TV station, other than that there were posters around,” he paused, “that were old.”

KSUA went to the film club for material. Souder is the vice president of the club.

The film club decided to take on a project for the TV station as a group.

“We decided, ‘yeah, let’s do a TV series and put it on KSUA TV,’” Pearson said.

Members of the film club are busy with their own projects, so they wanted to make this program light and improvisational, Pearson said.

To make it onto the cast of “Game Show,” actors sign a release form and fill out a survey — as a character they created. The survey reads like a personality quiz, with questions about traits, desires and personal history. Each section has a lengthy list of choices to check off and a blank section for actors to add their own ideas.

Next, the director hands a two-paragraph script to the actor, who must read it in character. The reading is followed by a short interview, also conducted in character.

All of the auditions are recorded on camera from two angles.

“It’s supposed to be a spoof of a reality show,” “Game Show” Director Aaron Gordon said. “There are certain beats written in, but all of the main dialog in between is unscripted.”

“My character is pretty much me, with some extra mixed things,” said Jeremy Cannone, who plays the character Luke McGee, a big business owner from California.

The KSUA TV office is warmly lit, and furnished like a live-in bachelor’s sanctuary. There are two computers, and two swivel chairs for the managing duo. Against the wall next to the entrance, there is a thick orange couch with an adjacent coffee table. The rest of the office is lined with filing cabinets and pieces of broadcasting equipment. When they’re not working, Souder and Leslie can be found playing SNES games on their tiny CRT television set.

To the right of Souder’s computer a single yellowed newspaper clipping tacked to a bulletin board reads “KSUA-TV spreads wings with maiden broadcast.” It is a Sun Star article by Bill O’Neill dated March 11, 2003, the year the station first went live.

In the article, then-KSUA-general-manager Curt Merrill expressed hopes for the television station similar to those of Leslie and Souder. He expected to start small and slowly expand as students gained interest, according to the article. In the spring of 2002, ASUAF gave approximately $14,000 to KSUA TV to fund the equipment that still holds the studio together.

We’re waiting on getting some hard drives so that we can actually use our automation system,” Souder said. “As it is right now we can only use DVDs or VHS, so we’d kind of be off the air most of the time anyway.”

It is unlikely that KSUA TV will be on the air in any substantial respect this semester, but Leslie hopes that it will be ready before the fall semester.

“We really want to get it done before summer, but because this equipment is so kind of antiquated and mysterious to us, we have no idea how long it will take, seriously.” Leslie said.

They have a YouTube channel, and a website where they post the videos they’ve received.

“We have ways to operate before we take off,” Leslie said. The most prominent feature right now are “Take-Out Sessions” with local and visiting musicians, filmed in the remodeled KSUA radio station.

“To watch it on TV, you have to be on campus, because it’s a closed circuit station,” Souder said.

“It wont necessarily be in the Wood Center, or Duckering, or the library, but just the dorms,”  Leslie chimed in. Those buildings have a different cable provider, though Leslie has been in contact with GCI to make KSUA TV available to lower campus buildings.

Game Show plans to air weekly campus-wide episodes on channel 73 by fall semester, 2012.

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