The sale of WUGA-TV to Marquee Broadcasting is scheduled to be completed on July 1, and we would be remiss not to note the end of this mini-epoch in university broadcasting. Since 2012, WUGA-TV existed as a local PBS affiliate in Athens, owned by UGA and whatever may have been its initial puropse or the original motivations behind the endeavor, the Franklin College became a significant contributor to the station. It broadcast, in every sense of the word, some of the work of our students, faculty, staff and visitors to an audience far wider than we would have ever reached alone. We are indebted to the station manager, Jimmy Sanders, and its former news director Jeff Dantre, for their openness to, belief in and enthusiasm for the content created by the Franklin College that ran on the station. More thoughts below the fold.
The broadcast experiment that was UGA-TV existed in a kind of in-between period in the evolution of conventional TV programming. Big media is [still] changing, digital internet content is surging, though revenue streams remain mysterious; support for public broadcasting has long been problematic; the number of cable networks has exploded and yet, many, many people still get thier news and entertainment via broadcast television. It's a bit of contradiction; and while universities have been racing to not get left behind by the MOOC phenomenon, how it can possible work also remains at best unclear. A traditional broadcast platform may not be the first, most reflective, or even best place to turn in such circumstances, but once it was up and running, WUGA-TV allowed us to share a variety of pieces about our mission. Here are a few:
Interstitials (1-2 minute promos between shows) for a sculpture installation in the Lamar Dodd School of Art by art professor Thom Houser; about a mural by renowned painter and emeritus professor Art Rosenbaum. These ran thousands of times after The News Hour or before an episode of American Experience and belonged right there with them.
ARCO in Venice, a one-hour documentary about the chamber orchestra from the Hugh Hodgson School of Music and its performance at a UNESCO concert in Italy. The documentary won a 2013 Gabby Award.
Unscripted with Alan Flurry. About this I probably have the most to say and should say the least. A tremendous experience that has allowed us to share the work and insights of so many extraordinary visitors to the UGA campus. More than two dozen episodes of half-hour interviews with scholars, artists, journalists, poets, politicians, fillmmakers, writers, the best of the best and still just a sampling of the many distinguished people who come to give speeches and lectures on campus. The idea for the show was based on our interview with Franklin Visiting Scholar and alumnus Fred Newman, with whom I had a wonderful conversation on camera. Newman's antics and grace would be difficult (but not impossible) to match, but our interview became the prototype for the show. Due to the willingness and confidence of not only those at the station but successive Franklin College deans Garnett Stokes, Hugh Ruppersburg, and Alan Dorsey, and especially our former assitant dean Linda Bachman, we were able to share some time with these guests with many more people than attended their Chapel lectures. I remain very happy about that alone, and indebted to all of the support from the viewers all over; spending time with so many great (and gracious) people was a wonderful experience for me personally that I can only hope came through in the broadcasts.
And there was far more than this: our geography students provided weather reports on news broadcasts; the Costa Rica Study Abroad Program was featured in a terrific documentary; a wonderful GMOA exhibit on Catherine the Great was the focus of another documentary; the list goes on, and other schools and colleges at UGA also provided content for shows and short features.
But to WUGA-TV, our eternal thanks and gratitude for what will always be an interesting chapter in the story of UGA and the Franklin College. Both continue, a little better than we were.