The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Don Ogle 

Students Behind The Camera With Sidney High Television Program


November 29, 2017

Don Ogle

Sidney High School students begin taping of the daily announcements in the SRTV studio. Through the class, students learn the how-to's of broadcasting in a career-track course.

What started out as a club experiment five years ago has turned into a popular class that is the envy of programs across the state.

It started when Sidney High School teachers Matt McKay and Roger Gallaway found a high school program that broadcasted high school football games. As a "couple of old coaches who love to watch football," as Gallaway puts it, the pair decided to give the idea a whirl and SRTV was born.

From the start, the pair wanted, as coaches do, be the best. The school tapes they had seen used one camera to show the action – they went out and got three. They found a handful of interested students and began streaming football games. They researched software options and began to broadcast Sidney games.

Always researching and learning, they were approached after that first year about turning the club into a regular class. Today, it is a career track elective that has drawn the interest of colleges and professional television stations across the state.

The pair got a grant for the first set of equipment. Since then they have scrounged and built the equipment, sets and other needs for the program, which uses the same equipment and practices as the professionals.

"We decided if we're going to do this, it's going to be the best," Gallaway said.

McKay had the technical background, putting it to use to find the best equipment. He then found out the best way to use that equipment. With his experience in speech and English, Gallaway works with students' presentation skills. What they didn't know, they found out.

"It's the little things – individual mics, teleprompter placement – that make a lot of difference in the quality of the product," McKay said.

Always on a quest to give students a leg up, they have also worked to let students see how the pros do it. That included a trip to KNOP TV in North Platte, where a tour gave students first-hand experience on set.

While on the trip students' knowledge and interest got the attention of those at the station, who hear the students using professional terms. At that point, the pros' interest peaked as they saw the group wasn't just another tour group on a walk through.

They spoke with students in more detail, going in depth about their shared interest.

The trip also netted the school a big score in its professional face. The station was in the process of doing a remodel, Gallaway explained, and the Sidney scroungers were more than interested in procuring what they could from the old sets and equipment.

Unfortunately, it was explained that another station had agreed to take the old sets. But a couple of months later, that station had not picked the sets up and KNOP called Sidney, asking if the school was still interested in them.

"We went right down and got it," Gallaway said. Through the deal the school was given an old anchor desk, side sets, and a lighting grid. SRTV bought that back and now has a professional studio in the school, where students tape daily announcements through a news broadcast that can be seen by students and public alike.

But the professional approach doesn't stop there. SRTV also has control rooms at Weymouth Field and in the Cabela's Athletic Facility. Students can set up camera operations at either venue and broadcast, with students controlling everything from start to finish.

This year the broadcast added instant replay to its repertoire, the one used by a high school in the state.

"There are some colleges that don't have our capabilities," Gallaway said with more than a hint of pride.

SRTV has its own YouTube channel, and broadcasts can also be seen at The audience has grown along with the station, peaking with 1,000 viewers during the Sidney-Scottsbluff football game in 2015, "and that was on top of a packed house," Gallaway said.

On average, between 200-400 viewers tune in for football games, and other contest also see good viewership as well.

For the students, many say participation has helped give them a career focus. Most like the background technical work, ranging from graphics to after effects.

No matter what they're main interest is, student's get experience in all aspects. The class size allows them to rotate through disciplines. During the cycle they'll write scripts, work the control board, operate cameras and be in front of the camera.

"We want them to get a chance to learn it all," Gallaway said.


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