For student broadcasters, ’70s tech a situation from heck

by David A. Bumpus / Beacon Staff • April 16, 2015

Madison McGahan and ECS hope to raise $15,000.
Madison McGahan and ECS hope to raise $15,000.

Looking to build their way up from a small, outdated television studio in their cubicle in the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gym, members of Emerson Channel Sports recently started raising money for new equipment, aiming to create a consistent and professional product.

Senior Madison McGahan, the channel’s sports director, said the campaign’s goal is to raise at least $15,000, which would go toward replacing its current switchboard, a tool central to the studio’s operation, which hails from the 1970s.

“We have to hold our breath every time we do a broadcast, hoping that the switchboard doesn’t fail on us,” said McGahan, a journalism major. 

McGahan, who has been working with ECS for three years, set up the initiative through the higher education crowdfunding site Useed. The fundraiser, which began on April 6 and will run through May 6, has raised close to $3,300 as of press time.

ECS broadcasts Emerson’s games and is meant to help students learn how to produce real-time telecasts for athletics.

“It’s not just a club where you sit around and watch sports games,” McGahan said. “It’s hands-on. People from any major can get hands-on experience with live sports.”

With Emerson recently beginning a new program that allows athletes to create a sports communication minor, and professors gauging interest in a major, McGahan said she thinks the fundraiser will help the college academically by giving students updated technology to learn from.

Daniel Sheehy, a sophomore visual and media arts major, is currently the executive producer of Good Morning Emerson on the Emerson Channel, and will be replacing McGahan as next year’s sports director of the channel.

“If you get old equipment, it’s going to fail. We’re all perfectly competent, it’s just that occasionally there’s technical difficulties that get in the way,” Sheehy said. “By fundraising and getting all of the new equipment that we’re going to need, it’s just going to take us to the next level.”

Because Emerson Channel is funded by the college, it’s not allowed to raise money from outside sources. After seeing other student organizations use Useed—which Emerson has an official partnership with—McGahan decided to use the site, starting the process in December and wrapping up in January. After the campaign was originally approved, though, they had to set up personal accounts for each members, and resubmit it before it could be launched, according to McGahan.

The campaign has seen support from ECS members’ families, athletes across Emerson’s campus, and on social media, from Butch Stearns, a sports reporter for Fox 25, a local news channel, and Emerson alumna Maria Stephanos, a Fox 25 anchor.

Junior marketing communication major Amanda Tessier, the marketing director for ECS, said the organization’s social media presence has had a large impact on the fundraising efforts.

“We have a huge network that really supports us through all of our initiatives,” Tessier said. “We are lucky to have the influence so we can reach upwards of 6,000 people a week on a Facebook page that has 1,000 fans.”

Tessier said that the support for the campaign from the school’s athletes has been another welcome gift for the organization.

“Beyond the dollar value, it shows us how important the athletes find our work,” Tessier said. “It’s a tangible thanks, and it shows us that what we do is valued.”

McGahan said she hopes that, in her last act as the head of ECS, she can leave a lasting mark with this campaign.

“I love this organization. It’s literally defined me these last three years and it’s going to be hard letting it go next year,” McGahan said. “But I think of this Useed as my final initiative as sports director, so I hope we do well with it.”