If you are a regular listener to UMSL’s student radio station, The U, or a regular consumer of the content created at UMSL’s television station, UTV, you may be wondering why you haven’t been able to access any of the usual programming lately. There is nothing wrong with your internet connection. Your computer is working fine. The radio and television stations are simply not operating at the moment. Like everything else in our lives, COVID-19 has had an impact on these organizations and presented many new challenges in terms of how to safely resume day-to-day activities. There is a lot that goes into producing radio and television content, and with so many factors to consider, the logistics of getting back on the air while providing a safe work environment for everyone involved will take careful and thoughtful planning.
There is a different set of challenges for the radio and television stations. When producing radio content, it often involves having multiple people in a confined environment. This brings up a large problem forThe U’s small studio, located in the Millennium Student Center. This makes it very difficult to adhere to the social distancing protocols. There are other things to consider as well, like sanitization procedures, and other measures that need to be taken to ensure that they are limiting any potential spread. In addition to the concern of being in close proximity, in a radio studio there will inevitably be a number of a people using the same equipment. They will have to come up with a plan to address this, whether it involves wearing gloves at all times, or developing a routine of regularly sanitizing all of their equipment. Regularly cleaning expensive, delicate equipment could prove to be a challenge all on its own.
While the television station faces many of the same challenges as the radio station, it seems the biggest obstacle UTV is having to deal with is a lack of resources and facilities. In the past, UTV has used a studio in Lucas Hall to do all their filming. However, due to COVID-19, this studio is only being used for classes this semester, leaving the television station without a proper venue to create new content. Nicole Wisz, a junior at UMSL and an advisor and manager for UTV, explained that while there isn’t a date we can look to just yet for the return of The U or UTV, the advisors for both the radio and television stations will be meeting soon to discuss all of these challenges and a plan for moving forward.
Wisz also stated that while the radio and T.V. stations aren’t currently operating as normal, there are still great opportunities for Media Studies and Communications majors to get involved by doing an internship or practicum. “For the radio show, it would be more on the management side, but you could also have a show, and with the television station, you’d basically just be creating content weekly,” Wisz explained. “It’s all sort of UMSL-based content… we did a weekly segment called “this week at UMSL where we talked about all of the events going on… it’s just sort of whatever a student wants to create.”
In the past, representatives from SEMPA, the Student Electronic Media Professionals Association were present at all of the different student affairs, spreading awareness about the unique opportunities that these programs had to offer. With most of these student affairs not happening due to COVID-19, and far fewer students on campus, awareness and subsequently involvement has dropped within most student organizations. But these practicums are still available, providing students with fun and useful experience in the production and creation of content that will enable them to hit the ground running when things get back to relative normal, hopefully sooner rather than later.
The best way to access the content for the radio and television stations are their Instagram pages, @umslradio and @theutv. Students who are interested in any of the practicum opportunities that are offered can reach out to Nicole Wisz at email@example.com, or Keith Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.