Last year, watching Blugold football from the comfort of your own home was easier said than done. Broadcasts were only available online, and with only one camera at Carson Park filming the action (and leaving out the scoreboard), keeping up with the game meant keeping a pen and paper nearby.
And the equipment behind the whole operation? Well, it was essentially a camcorder plugged into a laptop.
Today, thanks to the remarkable efforts of one determined student and the vision of supportive faculty and staff, fans can now enjoy quality live broadcasts of several Blugold sports including football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s hockey and softball.
As a freshman, Matt Peterson joined the TV-10 team as a volunteer. One year later, Matt found himself running the station, and fans of Blugold broadcasts will be forever thankful.
John Reichert and Ryan Banaszak, UW-Eau Claire residence hall managers and TV-10's staff advisers, said Matt’s quick rise to leadership was well-deserved.
“What has made him successful is two things: he wants to get to know everyone at the station and takes time to build those interpersonal relationships, and he wants to know how everything works,” Reichert said. “He’ll take the time to make sure he understands everything, and that’s why this whole athletics partnership has gotten off the ground, because he’s built those relationships. A handshake here, a handshake there, and all of a sudden we’re up and running.”
One camcorder has been replaced by three professional cameras filming in high-definition, and now games can be viewed on Chippewa Valley Community Television as well as online at Blugolds.com. Students from TV-10, UW-Eau Claire’s television station, provide commentary and interviews with players and coaches after the games.
Banaszak added that Peterson's contributions to TV-10 have been nothing less than transformative.
“It used to be that no one knew about TV-10,” Banaszak said, “It was just that room down in the basement of Towers. Now, everyone knows who we are. Matt in particular has worked like crazy to get the TV-10 name out there. And the quality of students’ work has become so much better.”
But Peterson, a senior communication and management major from Neenah, is more humble about his position. He said his job is simply “to find out where there might be a need on this campus, and then see how TV-10 might be able to meet that.”
Matt recognized the need for upgraded athletics broadcasting, but TV-10 would need support from partners on campus and in the community.
UW-Eau Claire athletics director Dan Schumacher had developed and conducted the broadcasting of university athletic events at various DI, II and III universities throughout his 20-year career. When Schumacher accepted his position with Blugold athletics last spring, he found the one-camcorder operation a bit lacking.
With Eau Claire’s availability of cable access TV, Schumacher knew expanding beyond online live streams to televised broadcasts across the state was possible. But he also knew that progress would only happen through collaboration with stakeholders from across campus and the Eau Claire community.
Schumacher began attending regular meetings with video leaders from on campus and around the Chippewa Valley. There, he made connections with representatives from Chippewa Valley Community Television, UW-Eau Claire Learning and Technology Services and the IT departments of the city and county of Eau Claire.
The group found that everyone was interested in expanding Blugold athletics’ broadcasting, but even those professionals from across the community weren’t able to do it on their own.
That’s when Peterson was brought into the conversation. By utilizing TV-10’s students as producers, the cross-community team was able to begin broadcasting.
Live streaming started last winter with men’s and women’s basketball. The process went so smoothly that they decided to add men’s hockey and even softball to the lineup. All of this led to live streaming football games, the team’s biggest operation thus far.
“It really came together and worked out,” Peterson said. “TV-10 provides the people and runs the production; LTS provides the equipment; and Dan provides funding and relationships with coaches that we need to successfully run it all. It’s really been a partnership, and it’s really cool to see how it’s exploded over the last year.”
The additional funds required to televise Blugold athletics come from corporate ads aired during the games.
Peterson says that rather than focusing on the size of the audience, he aims for quality.
“I always approach it the same way,” Peterson said. “I always want the best product possible. We just give it our all.”
Schumacher said that continuing to improve athletics live streaming at UW-Eau Claire could result in great rewards for the university.
“My ultimate goal is to get this to a production level high enough so that ESPN 3, the national digital network, would then pick up our games,” Schumacher said. “We’re getting closer. We just have to do a few more things, and I think we have a chance to get some of our marquee games on ESPN 3 because of the efforts Matt has made.”
UW-Eau Claire sports information director Jill Millis said the online and televised broadcasts also offer great potential for recruiting and retaining Blugolds in general, not just student athletes.
“We want people to see the 'E' and know that it's UW-Eau Claire,” Millis said. “Now people not only in the Eau Claire community, but if you’re in Wisconsin and you have cable, you’re going to be able to see Blugold athletics. That’s really getting not only our athletics, but our core university, out there.”
TV-10 turns 40
In 1975, UW-Eau Claire did something revolutionary by installing a campus-wide cable TV network. Along with this upgrade from Housing and Residence Life came TV-10, one of the first completely student-run television stations in the nation. This academic year marks TV-10’s 40th anniversary.
Although TV-10 has undergone many changes in its 40 years, students are still at the forefront of the operation. With approximately 80 students in the mix, this semester’s team is the largest the station has seen since its first years of existence. Together, the students produce six programs in addition to the athletics live streams.
Reichert said that even with an 80-person crew, Peterson makes it a priority to know every student involved. And if anyone needs something done, he is the first person they go to.
“Matt does everything. He manages student employees and holds them accountable. He’s down in the station for every production, serves as a mentor, teaches people how to do things and makes sure all our students are abiding by TV-10 policies,” Reichert said. “There’s very little that he doesn’t do. He wants to learn and he wants to teach everyone else, and in a university setting, that’s kind of the whole point.”
Peterson said that although students in TV-10 have pride in their work, they always make sure to have fun doing it, often taking breaks from producing videos to play Mario Kart on the station’s Nintendo 64.
“It’s a great group of people, and they’ve become my best friends. We’re a tight group,” Peterson said.
Video games aside, Matt’s dedication to TV-10 and its students has greatly impacted the station.
“TV-10 wouldn’t be where it is right now without Matt. I’m pretty sure he lives, eats and breathes TV-10,” Banaszak said. “He puts so much work into making sure those sports broadcasts happen while trying to keep everyone else accountable. He attends so many meetings and makes so many connections throughout campus. That’s what has been instrumental in expanding the station. I can’t say how impressed I am with the work he’s done to get TV-10 to where it is today.”
Schumacher said that TV-10 offers an opportunity for experiential learning to all students who work and volunteer for the station, an opportunity that Peterson has not taken lightly.
“From what I’ve seen over the last year and a half, the high level of competency, the high level of professionalism and the seriousness with which he takes his discipline and his career — which looks like his life's calling — I don’t see how he’s not going to be successful,” Schumacher said.
Photo caption: UW-Eau Claire senior Matt Peterson