Ram TV Gets Technology Upgrades
April 13, 2016
Since last summer, Angelo State University’s Ram TV has been one of only two high-definition local stations in San Angelo and the only station broadcasting live ASU sports.
The on-campus TV station got a new conversation set/studio designed for on-camera interviews in 2012, and then a TelVue programming system was added in 2015 that allows for internet protocol (IP) based scheduling.
“Because of the national rollout to high-definition television in 2009, we also had to upgrade our equipment,” said Leah Mangrum, associate professor of communication and Ram TV director. “We started with new HDTV cameras and related equipment for the television station.”
“We can now broadcast live from the studio or on location and input different kinds of content,” she added. “We’ve had a great relationship with Suddenlink for several years, broadcasting on Channel 6. Until this month, we were only able to broadcast standard definition through Suddenlink, but through the partnership with the station and the cable company, we were able to update the wiring at the university to broadcast the high-definition content we were filming on campus out to households in San Angelo and the Concho Valley.”
The Ram TV upgrades were driven by the desire to provide ASU communication and mass media students with state-of-the-art equipment and hands-on education.
“The idea behind the expansion is we’re giving students the best opportunities for collaborations with departments on campus and for connections with the community through internships,” said Dr. John Klingemann, interim chair of the Communication and Mass Media Department.
“With the new technology,” Mangrum added, “we can do more in-depth highlights of people or events and more live broadcasts.”
Russell Howard of San Angelo, a Ram TV student assistant, is a big fan of the technology upgrades.
“We wanted to find a way to do live broadcasts of ASU sports,” he said. “Once TelVue was installed, we began broadcasting sports live last fall, starting with soccer and volleyball.”
The TelVue system is actually a fairly unimpressive metal box that looks like any standard piece of audio-visual equipment. But its appearance is deceiving.
“With the new technology, we can do more in-depth highlights of people or events and more live broadcasts.”
“For our other programming needs, the TelVue system gives us a better way to program and to the second,” Howard said. “It’s a drag-and-drop system. We can insert public service announcements or advertising. TelVue makes it very easy to do that. We’re currently running PSAs about what is coming up on the Ram TV schedule.”
One of the most significant accomplishments using the new equipment was a live broadcast of ASU’s fall 2015 commencement ceremonies. Parents of ASU student-athletes are also appreciating the sports programming.
“They are contacting us and saying how much they love the streaming video,” Howard said.
The sports coverage is a joint project between Ram TV and ASU’s Athletic Communications team.
“Right now, it takes us and them, two or three from Ram TV, two or three camera people from Athletic Communications, six or seven total,” Howard said. “Ram TV staff runs production and direction for the broadcast.”
For live audio, the system streams the radio broadcasts provided by Foster Communications stations.
“We are a product deliverer,” Howard said. “Their equipment provides the stream and our equipment pushes it out over the air. That’s where the new equipment comes in. We take it and broadcast it. Athletic Communications takes that production stream and puts it out online.”
Ram TV runs 12 hours of its own broadcasts and 12 hours provided by NASA on weekdays and schedules blocks of programming for weekends, usually on-campus lecture series and sports.
“Those on campus who want their events covered can make a request two weeks in advance,” Mangrum said. “We broadcast student projects from our advanced video production class and electronic news gathering class, four or five productions per semester. Student-produced videos are very important for their résumés. They have producing credits.”
“We’re here for the students first,” she added. “We want them to get the kind of experience that prepares them for careers in the media industry. It helps them to build portfolios of their work. Most of my students have gone out to work with television stations and production companies.”