BY GERRY TETZLAFF
The word “broadcast” is commonly associated with TV or radio. People often think of professionals dressed in their finest, reading the events of the day, or they imagine the voices they have grown used to guiding them home through their car speakers. They picture TV studios with huge cameras and high ceilings dangling with hundreds of lights and radio studios with autographed posters and countless light bulbs and buttons on soundboards-these are the places where broadcasts take place. But not Drake Relays broadcasts.
“I think we’re cruising up on 25 years—it’s definitely been over 20,” said professor David Wright.
Drake has seen over two decades of student journalists doing work from spaces and rooms that can only be described as anything but what one would expect.
“When we originally started this, the talent was always either on top of the stadium or somewhere on the outside,” Wright said. “It was cold, it was miserable. We had a tent, but the rain blew in. It was nasty.”
Wright has been a professor at Drake for the past 28 years and has been the advisor to the students who broadcast Relays since the broadcasts first started.
Wright believes the current setup for the broadcasters is top-notch compared to the past. Many alumni who worked through the conditions he described may feel the same way. But as students cycle through, so do opinions.
“It’s pretty tiny,” said James Maertens, who has been an announcer for the Relays broadcast for the past three years and is no stranger to the current set up that Relays workers broadcast from.
This year, Maertens is the chief broadcaster and sports analyst. The “pretty tiny” thing he is referring to can be found in the lowest level of the southern corner of the Drake Stadium press box.
The room itself is about twelve feet long by four feet wide. A shelf runs the length of the room along the windows and uses up about a third of the rooms width. It comfortably fits seven tiny folding chairs and houses all of the team’s screens for viewing footage, sound and videos boards for adjusting levels and switching video feeds, laptops and the thing most of them don’t even understand: the tricaster, which takes what they produce and sends it to where it is aired for everyone to see and hear.
If the windows are open during a race, the loud noises from below make it difficult to broadcast the event. So the window remains closed, which is a blessing during years where Iowa’s temperature falls to 30 degrees on an April day. It’s a curse, though, during a 90-degree day (which happened some 30 years ago). The booth is supposedly climate controlled, but with as many as eight bodies in the control room, climate control takes a back seat to body temperature.
“It’s very heated,” senior Brenna Paukert said. “There are a lot of people in there doing a lot of important things.”
Paukert is the pre-produced producer for the Relays broadcast this year, meaning she is in charge of all content made before Relays begin. Paukert has participated as an on-field reporter and a line producer. She has stayed out of the booth in the past but will be claiming one of the main chairs this year.
Even if the amount of bodies in the tiny room does increase the temperature, in the heat of the moment, most of the workers don’t even notice. One thing that cannot be ignored is that the door into the booth opens inward, and to let new people in, the two people nearest to the door have to stand up, push in their chairs and lean toward the windows.
So the broadcasting booth is tiny, and there’s a lot going on in there, but not everyone knows that from that booth comes the largest student-run broadcast in the country.
“There are eight of us on the executive board,” said executive producer Lauren Baker. “We have about 15 people who are talent, six different package groups with six people in them each and we have people still signing up to run cameras. We have eight and a half hours total of live television.”
In her opinion, they carry the title of largest student-run broadcast because of the number of students involved and because of the number of hours they broadcast.
“When we’ve looked into it before, it has always been the largest,” Wright said.
The most content and hours broadcasting, plus the most students involved equals the largest student-run broadcast. And this largest of broadcasts originates from one of the tiniest, most cramped rooms on Drake’s whole campus.
If you want to catch this crew in their element, You can do so by tuning into the College Channel for TV or 94.1 the Dog for radio on Friday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Saturday April 30 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
It may not be your typical broadcast — there are no dangling lights or autographed posters — but at Drake, big things happen in tiny spaces.