Spurred by 'Frontiers,' campus looks into creating its own TV studio

The new Web TV show "Frontiers" will help raise the profile of research and scholarship done by UC Davis faculty. It could also help the campus land a permanent TV recording studio.

"Frontiers," produced by University Communications and IET-Mediaworks, is a half-hour public affairs program that started webcasting on www.ucdavis.edu in November and should debut on UCTV this month. Initial guests range from chemist Matt Augustine to artist Malaquias Montoya.

The program will also air on public TV. The production values aim that high, which--along with displaying good work by campus luminaries--is part of the point.

The show got started when University Communications and Information and Educational Technology set out to create a webcast program, said Susanne Rockwell, a senior public information representative and the associate producer of "Frontiers." After recording lectures and talks by distinguished visitors in "horrible rooms with bad lighting," they realized they would get better results with their own set.

"Frontiers" landed in Wyatt Pavilion, with the first segments created last summer.

The show is recorded on a thrust stage in 100-year-old Wyatt, an original campus structure built as a livestock judging hall and converted into a small theater in 1963. Conditions are better there, but still not ideal, said Paul Ver Wey, manager of Media Services for Mediaworks and stage manager for the program.

Wyatt is available only part of the week, setting up takes several people five hours, and train sounds from the nearby Union Pa cific railroad intrude on the recording.

"Ideally, we would like to record in a television studio," Ver Wey said. "A studio not just for 'Frontiers,' but a central facility for all campuswide recording productions." That could include a place where faculty, staff, students and administrators could broadcast live to national news networks on short notice.

Creating a studio like that "would quickly and dramatically enhance the reputation, authority and prestige of UC Davis as home to a stable of nationally and internationally recognized experts," said Mitchel Benson, director of the campus News Service and executive producer of "Frontiers."

Ver Wey and others are working with the Office of Resource Management and Planning to identify possible studio locations. Potential cost and other details remain to be worked out.

"We are very excited about 'Frontiers' and our collaboration with University Communications," Ver Wey said. "Hopefully, this is just the start of more campus ventures into webcasting and broadcast television productions."

Meanwhile, work continues on "Frontiers" in 2007.

"We hope to get a permanent budget and continue producing more shows," Rockwell said in mid-November. "We will produce at least seven more shows--we??'ve' got seven in the bag--and hopefully more."

Programs will air on KVIE2, an affiliate of Sacramento public TV station KVIE, plus Davis Community Television and the campus student channel ResNet. "Our emphasis is really going to be Web," Rockwell said. "We're looking at ways to get our news out to segmented audiences using Web sites such as Google Video. Eventually we hope to use this when UC joins iTunes."

For more about "Frontiers," read the Nov. 17, 2006 Dateline UC Davis article by Associate Editor Dave Jones. Or visit the "Frontiers" Web site.