Temple students to cover Olympics background

Isabelle Garcia, Ryan Geffert and Jake Rasmussen will be going to London to cover the Olympics, joined by professor Bill Mooney. (Luis Fernando Rodriguez/Staff)
Isabelle Garcia, Ryan Geffert and Jake Rasmussen will be going to London to cover the Olympics, joined by professor Bill Mooney. (Luis Fernando Rodriguez/Staff)
Posted: July 18, 2012

It started with a nightly news broadcast from Brian Williams on NBC that Temple University professor Paul Gluck was watching from home.

When Williams announced it was a year to the day until the start of the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, Gluck - the general manager for Temple's student TV station, TUTV - said his ears perked up. He asked himself: "What's the most valuable thing we could do for the students?"

Almost a year later, five students and one professor from Temple's School of Media and Communications will travel to England for the London Olympics Television Workshop. They will cover life in the city during the Olympics and send their stories back to Philadelphia for broadcast on TUTV each Tuesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. beginning July 26 and continuing for the duration of the Olympics, which ends Aug. 12.

The workshop is the first program of its kind at Temple, and the students are thrilled at the opportunity to go.

"No matter what experience you are given, just jump on it because it's not going to happen again," said Ryan Geffert, a junior film and media arts major who is one of the five students selected, recalling advice he was given while preparing for the trip.

Geffert will be joined in London by students Hope Janelle Berninghausen, Isabel Garcia, Quinton Bosman, and Jake Rasmussen, and professor Bill Mooney, who serves as assistant chairman for the department of media studies and production.

The students do not have broadcast rights for the Olympics footage, which was sold for millions of dollars by the International Olympic Committee, so they plan to focus on the city's economy, culture, green movement, and, of course, ties to Philadelphia. To begin broadcasting soon after arriving, students have already prepared stories, such as interviewing local athletes.

Geffert, 20, of New York, said he was looking forward to the hectic London work schedule and having to learn quickly how to work with new colleagues. Like the rest of the group, he has never been to an Olympics, although he said his grandfather attended the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., and collected memorabilia pins. Geffert said he hoped to do a story on the pins.

"A test of skill" is how Garcia, 21, of North Wales, a broadcast journalism senior, said she expected the experience to be because of the competitive and unfamiliar environment. She said each student would take turns performing the different jobs needed to produce the stories, some for the first time.

But make no mistake, said George Cummings, programming/production manager for TUTV and a professor at Temple, students will be producing a comprehensive sports and news program.

"This is going to be the real deal," Cummings said.

Temple was able to form the program by drawing on resources from its existing London study-abroad program and with financial help from the Kal and Lucille Rudman Media Production Center, which grants funding for special opportunities like the workshop, Gluck said.

Professors hope the experience will benefit students back in Philadelphia. TUTV Studio 3 student anchors will host the program in Philadelphia, and the London students will send reports recorded and edited in London electronically to the Philadelphia station and also broadcast live reports and interviews via Skype. The program can be watched in Philadelphia on Comcast Channel 50 and Verizon Channel 45, as well as online at www.templetv.net.

Jack Klotz, a professor at Temple, performed the musical intro for the program, composed by Vincent Leonard, and the graphics introduction is the work of Kevin Downs, a graphic design senior at Temple. Downs volunteered to create a 25-second intro piece for the London broadcasts, which he described as having a retro 1950s look with a modern twist, after hearing that students were traveling to the Games and hoping to be part of the action.

"It's pretty cool. I'm kind of jealous I don't get to go to London, but I get to do the graphics," said Downs, 22, of Wallingford.

Gluck said he would like to see the university repeat the program, either at the next Olympics or another major news event in the United States. Temple students broadcast news abroad once before when study-abroad students in Japan created a 30-minute special after the 2011 tsunami.

Students on both sides are preparing for a host of troubles during their first time broadcasting at a major event overseas, from the heavy Internet traffic and losing a connection to adjusting to the five-hour time difference. Leading up to its departure, the group has navigated filing the paperwork to send their two packing crates of cameras and editing systems.

But dealing with these troubles is all part of the learning experience, Gluck said.

"The worst circumstances may be the best teaching opportunity," Gluck said.

Contact Dara McBride at 215-854-2703 or dmcbride@philly.com.

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