Behind the Scenes: Colgate Television

Behind the Scenes: Colgate Television

Alyssa Labelle

CUTV began ages ago in the distant past of 1981. Then a first-year, Barret Lester ’85 noticed one thing that Colgate was lacking – a TV station! With a bit of work, Lester managed to garner the funding needed to get CUTV up and running. The station started with a solid membership of over 50 students. The original shows consisted of such stimulating material as the “Colgate Dating Game,” a news segment called “13 Minutes,” the self-explanatory “NFL Show,” “Outtakes and Mistakes” and many other programs.

During this time the shows were broadcasted in the Coop for the whole student body to enjoy. It wasn’t until 1992 that then-general manager Robert “Tex” Johnson managed to convince the university administration that it was imperative for CUTV to have its very own channel. In accordance with Colgate traditions, Johnson picked lucky channel 13 to be CUTV’s new home.

Digitally speaking, CUTV resides to this day on its home sweet home of Channel 13. In the physical world, the station can be found only after taking a long, winding trek to the second floor of JCC in the corridor behind the Hall of Presidents. This is where the shows are produced and where all the work needed to run a television station takes place.

CUTV is completely student-run, with somewhere between 50 to 100 members currently belonging to the organization. The station broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is no faculty advisor, but instead an Executive Board of 13 students oversees the station and to make sure things run smoothly. The station’s development division oversees the creation of all the different shows, while different committees and crews deal with other portions of the station such as commercials and publicity. A board member heads up each committee, and each show has its own board member, who acts as an advisor to the show.

“The relationship between the board and the people doing the shows is pretty close,” said senior Susan Tahsler, assistant general manager of the station. Everyone on the board has a show, is involved in a show or has had some other previous involvement with CUTV. The amount of experience on the board is one of the things that helps maintain a successful TV station.”

Anyone can get involved with the station. By simply filling out a producer contract and proposing the idea for a show to the Executive board, a Colgate student can find himself on the way to superstardom on the small screen.

“It’s competitive in that not everyone can just have a show,” Tahsler said, “but right now there are time slots open, so it’s not much of an issue. The scheduling is flexible, and we’re always looking for more people. One of the beauties of CUTV is that you can make it as much or as little of your life as you want.”

Currently there are around 10 shows airing on CUTV, but a lot of new ones are getting started. Some of the returning favorites are the infamous “Booty Call” and “Chick Chat,” along with a sports show, “The Bottom Line.” New episodes of the Fear Factor-esque “Xtreme Colgate Challenge” will be premiering, along with more episodes of “Late Night Buzz” and “Gate Update.” Sports broadcasts, special-events broadcasts and movies also air on the station.

With graduation last year, CUTV lost quite a few of its seniors and shows, but underclassmen have risen to the occasion and are participating more in the station. Some newcomers serve to round out the platter of CUTV offerings. One very unique show that should be premiering sometime soon is “Chenango Safari.”

“It’s not like Crocodile Hunter, and it’s not Jeff Corwin,” said senior Tim Hogarth, general manager of CUTV. “Basically, ‘Chenango Safari’ will be talking to pet owners. Pet owners can be a little zany. I’m interested to see what they’ll do with it because there’s a lot of potential there.”

A show probably of great interest to the new CUTV watcher is “Booty Call.” Everyone’s heard of it; everyone’s seen the posters – this show has definitely gained a sort of infamy on campus. Hogarth runs the show along with seniors Jeremy Fix and Kaitlyn Robinson. “Booty Call” is a sex call-in show on Saturdays at 8 p.m. New episodes of the show haven’t been aired for two and a half years, but this year it’s coming back – and with a vengeance.

“It’s gotten a lot of people interested in CUTV,” Hogarth said. “We plastered the campus with signs, and now we’ve got a rep. We’re a little bit racy, but it’s fun.” At this point the show has developed frequent callers and there are storylines going on, among other things.

Things escalate quickly. “We have ninjas that call in – we were attacked by them once,” laughed Hogarth. “And there’s someone known as Honey Girl. I think we’re the most notorious show currently.”

If you’re looking for fare that’s perhaps a bit more on the tame side, you should check out “The Big H Variety Hour.” This show is a variety talk show with live call-ins and guests. The show is created, edited, produced and co-hosted by junior Henoch Derbew and sophomore Dane Jackson.

“I’m trying to be Arsenio Hall and Conan O’Brien,” Derbew said. “The show is unique because it combines so many types of shows: sketch comedy, call-in advice and interviews. I think that people watch it for a good time and enjoy how I spoof popular things like the latest R. Kelly ‘Trapped in the Closet’ ghetto soap opera or the hit television show ‘Blind Date.'”

The show also features a blast-from-the-past music video from the mid-90’s in every episode and ends with a sitcom’s theme song. “The show is really fun to do even though it becomes very time consuming,” said Derbew. “It’s nice having people call and tell you they enjoyed the show. Having a show is fun, but it’s hard work.”

It may be a lot of work, but CUTV is valuable both to those who create the shows and to the campus at large.

“People can get practical hands-on skills for TV broadcasting,” Hogarth said. “We help, but if you’re making a show it’s pretty much in your hands.”

For people who aren’t doing the broadcasting, Hogarth explains that the station is still valuable.

“There’s a lot of great programming that we’re putting on,” he said. “People have fun watching, calling in and telling their stories. They get to become a part of it. The best thing about CUTV is the freedom to make a show about something you’re interested in, to do something with your friends and to use professional-grade equipment.”

In the realm of possible improvements, Tahsler notes that the station is always interested in getting more people involved.

“I know a lot of people watch CUTV for the movies we have, and that’s great, but I think that student-run shows are what make the station,” she said.