Ryan Teeples: A rare inside look at BYUtv on football game day

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 6 2013 3:20 p.m. MST

BYUtv's Jarom Jordan works inside the studio during production of a BYU football pre-game show in October.

Ryan Teeples

Editor's note: This is the first in a two-part series on BYUtv. Part two deals with the network's direct value to the school and its students. In preparation for this series, Ryan Teeples was an on-site observer of the game-day broadcast process.

It’s football game day in Provo, and the Cougars are playing host to Georgia Tech.

ESPNU is on-hand to broadcast the game live, bringing in a seasoned crew of about 60 to deliver the product to fans across the country. At any other university in America, that’s the sum of the effort.

But at BYU, that’s just the beginning.

The BYUtv broadcast

Before ESPN even unloads gear, BYUtv’s broadcasting crew is prepping to shoot its own pregame show. By night’s end it will also produce its own game broadcast side by side with ESPN, a post-game show and other online features.

Overall, BYUtv has about 70 people assigned to work broadcasts like this, and only about 30 percent of the crew are professionals. The remaining 70 percent are students. Like BYUtv itself, this student participation is unique to Provo.

In the past two years, this collaboration of students and professionals has produced nearly 300 live broadcasts of sporting events across the spectrum of athletics with basketball, soccer, volleyball, baseball and others joining football on the network. Add to that another 163 studio shows, and this resume rivals any sports network anywhere.

"People ask us all the time how we are able to do all we are doing — what's the secret ingredient? It’s a combination of an incredibly talented professional broadcast team paired with an incredibly talented and dedicated team of student employees — approximately 350 per year," said BYU vice president of advancement Kevin Worthen, who oversees both athletics and broadcasting.

Nowhere in the country can so many students gain such real-world broadcasting experience.

Inside BYUtv studios

Walking into the BYUtv broadcasting facilities on game day, you can’t help but be impressed with the building itself. Mikel Minor, senior coordinating producer of sports programming at BYUtv, explains the building’s architecture was designed with broadcasting in mind. Architects visited ESPN, Discovery and other networks for inspiration for the building's design. The end product, Minor says, would fit in easily on ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., campus.

BYUtv produces all of its athletic pre-game and post-game shows out of this building, which sits conveniently adjacent to the Marriott Center and a stone’s throw from LaVell Edwards Stadium. The studio is also home to BYUtv’s other original programming, which the network promotes during sports broadcasts.

A walk down one of the studio’s hallways reveals room after room prepared for the demanding technical aspects of broadcasting. The equipment looks impressive, and it turns out it’s leading edge.

Edward Placey, senior coordinating producer for ESPN/ABC College Football, said any production team at any level would love to have the setup that BYUtv has.

“BYUtv’s facilities are as impressive as any you’ll ever see, on or off a college campus. First rate all around,” he said.

The production room is packed with electronics and people as the pregame show begins. There’s a palpable vibe of enjoyment in the work among the half-dozen employees and students in the room. While the show hosts sit in front of cameras at the stadium, this crew works feverishly to mix sound, put up graphics, follow the Twitter conversation, switch cameras and deliver the product to fans' televisions. It’s all done with professionalism trimmed with a happy vibe.

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