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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

BTV relaunched after hiatus with new Executive Board

Published: March 23, 2007
Section: News

This past week, Brandeis Television celebrated its new semester of programming and a new season of its flagship news program, “BTV News,” with a launch party featuring live music and a chocolate fountain. This semester marked a new beginning for the often-struggling club.

As a secured club on campus, BTV receives sizable funding for its operations. Even with the passing of the SAF amendment, in which BTV was no longer guaranteed a set amount of Student Union funds, according to club president Avi Swerdlow 10, BTV still receives around $18,000 in base resources every semester. The club, however, has faced accusations in recent years of not living up to the student bodys expectations.

It was argued that BTV simply produced very little and that a blank screen, outdated programming, or repeating movies was a frequent sight. BTVs previous programming has included “Sex and the Suburbs,” in which students called in for sexual advice, and “Room Raiders,” which featured some of Brandeis most popular rooms.

BTV has also coordinated programming with WBRS, and featured a web page complete with a schedule and access to previous episodes of its news programs.

Beginning in the fall semester of 2006, however, BTV faced some serious challenges. Original programming was still rife with technical difficulties, and the previous e-board terms were coming to a close.

In response, Swerdlow began to recruit individuals on a personal basis, and eventually a new e-board was elected: Executive Vice President Eva Cataldo 10, Programming Vice President Arun Narayanan 10, Station Vice President Jeremy Belzer-Adams 08, Communications Vice President Elizabeth Pauker 10, and Executive Board Member At Large Carrie Meggs 10.

While he had successfully petitioned Library and Technology Services for the use of their Farber library studio, the new members of the club spent last semester adjusting to on-screen performance and receiving training in the use of complicated camera equipment. Arun Narayanan, BTVs audio engineer, says in a sense, all of first semester was training for me everybody had to learn everything. We were all trained to do any job because we werent sure if we were going to have enough people.

Thus, at the beginning of the spring semester, BTV stood with no official programming, an outdated web site, and a new e-board. By February, it managed to produce its first original programming, BTV News. Since then, it has produced three weekly episodes, each running daily at 6pm. As Swerdlow acknowledged, While the goal of fall semester was infrastructure, the goal of spring semester was filming BTV News–a goal which we more than accomplished.

According to Swerdlow, more programming is on the way. The future of BTV holds many great, but endless possibilities. I hope to vastly expand our original programming. Next semester I hope to begin production of a Brandeis sitcom, a sketch comedy show, and perhaps a talk show of sorts.

Another major development this semester is BTVs agreement to participate in Open Student Television Network, which provides programming from colleges throughout the country. For Swerdlow, This programming allows us to provide 'filler' programming in between our original programming and movies, rather than the Windows screensaver. BTV itself has offered some its own programming to the network, including a piece on the recent visit of Master Women Drummers from Guinea.

Some members of campus said they were impressed with BTVs resurgence. Gdaly Berlin '10 enjoyed the new BTV, adding I was impressed by their ability to pull together and present an interesting show.

The launch party this past week also granted BTV much-needed publicity. According to Pauker , BTVs Communications Vice President and Publicity Director, we hope that after the launch party people will know more about us around campus and that with OSTN people will know there is something always on for them to see.

Still, protests over the clubs performance remain. In an email, Igor Zhukovsy 09, a former assistant programming director for BTV, argued that student participation in BTV was lackluster and that when I found out that BTV gets a guaranteed $18,000 to $20,000 per year, I was mortified, because no one there does anything and productions values are so low!

In the weeks to come, BTV will continue to work in order to keep the club operational. But some students feel confident in the groups new leadership. BTV has used a lot of money but they are truly turning a new leaf. They have a whole new line of programming and are planning new things, said Finance Board member Jordan Rothman 09. We decided to take a chance on them, and I think it's going to pay off.