Northwestern's television program wins top award at OBEA

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Northwestern's television program wins top award at OBEA

February 25, 2009

Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s small television program has won big in a statewide student broadcast competition.

Jesse Schroeder, instructor in mass communications and NWTV7 adviser, learned Sunday evening that the April 8, 2008, newscast submitted to the Oklahoma Broadcast Education Association (OBEA) student competition in mid-January placed first in Best Television Newscast.

 NWTV7 set
NWTV7 producer Xin Xin Liu (standing at left) oversees the production while on-air talent (seated from left) Kacee McCulley, Sherryce Benson and Allison Cunningham receive last minute instructions Tuesday from Jesse Schroeder, NWTV7 adviser and instructor of mass communications at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
 Joe Perez and Xin Xin Liu
NWTV7 director Joe Perez and producer Xin Xin Liu give direction and oversee the 30 minute newscast at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
“This is the biggest and most anticipated award given by the OBEA every year,” Schroeder said. “The University of Oklahoma and the University of Central Oklahoma have dominated this category for years, so this is very exciting for our program.”

UCO won second and OU won third this year in the category.

“I am very proud of our students for winning this award,” said Tammy Brown, chair of the Communication Department. “Our students work very hard, and it is great to see them receive the recognition they deserve.”

Schroeder said that 18 schools across the state of Oklahoma are members of OBEA and submit entries into both the radio and television categories; however, not all schools compete in the newscast category.

In the past, Schroeder said each school could enter three newscasts in this category, but this year the contest was limited to only one. Each newscast can be no longer than 30 minutes in length and must be done live with no editing afterward.

Schroeder said that NWTV7 produces its news show each week “live to tape,” meaning that it’s produced live, recorded and played back at a later time.

“When we begin recording a 30 minute newscast, we go for 30 minutes straight,” Schroeder said. “If you mess up, you cover and keep going. We treat it as a live broadcast.”

All newscast entries were sent to a professional television news station in Tulsa this year for judging. Schroeder said that everyone working at the station from producers to on-air talent watched each newscast and determined the winners.

“It’s gratifying to know that Northwestern’s entry was judged the best by individuals working in the news business on a daily basis,” Schroeder said.

The student producer of the award-winning newscast is Xin Xin Liu, Xi’An, China sophomore. On-air talent includes Sherryce Benson, Alva senior; Allison Cunningham, Alva senior; Austin Curtis, Glencoe senior; Clayton Holub, Garden City, Kan., senior; and Catherine Wells, 2008 Northwestern graduate from Follett, Texas.

Schroeder said the newscast contained stories on the high price of gasoline and how those high prices were affecting other areas, like buying groceries. Benson produced a story on the local business Happiness House that decided to move locations in downtown Alva. The story included an interview with Alva city officials. Schroeder said that Wells had a nice piece on Northwestern’s golf team.

“The stories the students developed were really good, and the writing of the newscast script made the story transitions flow,” Schroeder said.

About 90 percent of the work for each newscast is completed prior to shooting day.

“The 30 minutes we spend actually producing the show each Tuesday is the least amount of work completed,” Schroeder said. “Students must set up their interviews, shoot their video, write their scripts, and edit their packages prior to shooting the show.”

Schroeder said Northwestern’s mass communications program currently has between five and 10 students leaning toward a career in television after college and that ranges from talent to videography, production and directing.

Other behind the scenes but necessary aspects of producing the weekly newscast lie at the hands of students in a television practicum class, some of whom are taking it as an elective. These students help to operate various pieces of equipment including cameras, audio board, video switcher, teleprompter and the character generator for graphics.

The current size of Northwestern’s television program actually could be an advantage for students.

“Right now Xin Xin and Joe Perez (Houston, Texas, sophomore) are producing every show and don’t have to share their training time with others,” Schroeder said. “Larger schools have a higher number of students wanting to be in television, who must rotate in and out to receive hands-on training.”

Schroeder said that by winning this prestigious award, it helps to give Northwestern’s program validation.

“I think it shows that you can get an excellent education from a small university,” he said. “It’s what you get out of the education provided.

“Winning this award also helps to show that we’re teaching the same methods that the larger universities are teaching, and now our students are doing something with it.”

Schroeder added that Brown always tells the faculty, “We are here to provide our students with the information and opportunities to learn; the students have to meet us halfway.”

To that, Brown said, “Mr. Schroeder presses our students to be the best that they can be. Winning this award illustrates that our students have the opportunities and are learning the skills to be the best.”

Having his students win first place in this category has forced Schroeder into new goals, too.

The Northwestern alumnus and former NWTV7 anchor said upon first taking the job of television instructor in 2006, his goal was to have the students win first in television newscast at OBEA because in past years, the best the television program had done is maybe a third in directing. In fact, he said he couldn’t retire from the university until this goal was achieved.

Since he’s too young to retire, he’s decided that his new goal is to have his students maintain this high standard.

“Our students have put in a lot of hard work, and we’re fortunate to receive this award,” Schroeder said. “We’re making a name for our department and program and must continue producing the kind of work that people expect from us.”

This semester, NWTV7 can be seen in Alva on Thursdays and Fridays at 9 a.m. and noon on cable channel 7. Interested viewers also may watch the newscast video via YouTube at  People can subscribe to the channel for free and receive weekly updates when the new newscast is uploaded.

For more information about the mass communications television program, please contact Schroeder at (580) 327-8465 or