School Media Highlight: College of Nebraska, Omaha
KVNO maintains as much normalcy as COVID times allow
While we live in uncertain times, one thing is certain; The students at college radio station MavRadio.FM KVNO 90.7 HD2 at the University of Nebraska, Omaha have shown that they can learn, innovate, and adapt to the challenges of COVID-19. Radio World spoke to Jodeane Brownlee about the college radio station and its operations during COVID-19. Brownlee is Faculty Advisor for MavRadio.FM KVNO 90.7 HD2, Lecturer, Faculty Advisor for Women in Media, and Executive Producer of The Omaha News.
Radio world: Please describe your media operations, including the physical facility. How many studios and how are they equipped? Where is the transmission facility? How is it equipped?
Jodeane Brownlee: The radio station is located on campus and adjoins two teaching laboratories and an area in which the “whisper room” is located. This is a production area where students and faculty work [produce] their voiceovers for radio, television and creative productions. The studio has four microphones for guest and live artists.
RW: Who makes the executive decisions for the ward? What role do the students play in station operations?
Brownlee: At MavRadio.FM we have volunteers. Depending on the semester and the number of students involved, we have a general manager, operations manager, production manager, music director and sports director.
RW: Are the students on campus now or are they studying and working remotely?
Brownlee: The students are still on campus for their shows and special programs. We celebrated World College Radio Day with a live presenter at a time, but all interviews were recorded. This benefited the program as we simultaneously broadcast the interviews on our podcast, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
We also have two more live special shows in October. Since we are limited to the number of students in a single room, our staff meetings were all conducted through Zoom. Exercise was another Achilles’ heel. So far this semester we haven’t had one and our sports department is in the early stages of planning basketball and hockey tournaments. It was a challenge to plan, that’s for sure. In the meantime, we’ve been working with our national association to name playoffs and high school championship games.
The other problem I see is trying to cover all sports this spring. From the sounds we will compose all autumn sports and continue the spring sports. Honestly, I don’t know how we can do all of this! But we will. I have the best staff that I know!
RW: Is the transmitter in the air right now? What resources and products (software or hardware) are used?
Brownlee: MavRAdio.FM KVNO 90.7 HD2 was broadcast via the RCS NexGen automation software.
RW: How did COVID-19 affect the ward? Social distancing challenges?
Brownlee: The biggest challenge for our employees is the fact that we cannot hold meetings with more than 10 students on or off campus. We usually work several hours a week together on production, music, sports and overall planning. The simple fact is that it is far more difficult to work as a team in this environment. However, the safety and well-being of our employees, faculties and students is our number one goal.
RW: How do you do this when students are working remotely? Can you give examples?
Brownlee: Last spring, our students led a two-hour Earth Day special on Earth Day. We did this through Zoom and it was pretty impressive. We had two hosts and 10 reporters. These reporters put together language packs with interviews, research, and natural sound. Because we were locked up, we were all banished to our homes, which is the essence of what happened to everyone. It was effective and innovative. There was some post-production as the stories and some graphics had to be recorded later, but it looked great on YouTube and the audio worked well for our podcast audience.
I mentioned World College Radio Day earlier and we plan to use the same format for our Haunted Heartland program on October 29th. We’ll have two moderators in the studio and a producer. The reporters will be there for their live remote control, usually in small groups. This year, however, we will be sending reporters on our own and reducing the broadcast from three to two hours.
We also have a 24 hour marathon October 28-29 for a fundraiser. The plan calls for three hour shifts with a single jock. We will also use social media for this. Indeed, social media has given us an opportunity to stay relevant and in front of our audience.
We also had a sports team covering our professional football games (Union Omaha). You recently traveled from Nebraska to Wisconsin to compete in the championships. Again, it is important to provide students with experiences in the face of the pandemic.
RW: Is there anything else we want our readers to know?
Brownlee: College radio is more workable and relevant than ever. With social media platforms, the voices can compete with other influencers. It’s not “should” college radio on social media, it’s a “must”. In a world of conglomerates, retweets, and biases, reporting must be local, energetic, and objective.
To receive more articles like this and stay up to date on all of our market leading news, features, and analysis, subscribe to our newsletter here.