Between a senior day victory, head coach Justin Potts earning his 100th career win and junior guard Nickie Carter creeping up on her 1,000-point milestone, Saturday was jam-packed with success, and not just for the athletes.
When Montclair State University teams get the opportunities to showcase their talents in their home territory, so do the brains and voices of the Red Hawk Sports Network (RHSN) with regular game coverage and weekly programming streamed on their YouTube channel.
For the second time ever, the RHSN hosted a live game day broadcast on Feb. 12, but this time with upgrades. They included a multi-camera feed, sideline reporting segments and interviews with players, coaches and special guests in addition to their usual broadcast booth setup. After its founding a little over two years ago, RHSN continues to assert itself as an organization-to-watch.
Although Saturday’s broadcast was mostly smooth sailing, it was no light work getting there. RHSN’s team of producers, broadcasters and professors applied all the lessons they had learned from the homecoming show to weeks of preparation and practice leading up to this past weekend’s basketball doubleheader.
Senior RHSN producer Jack Barteck said the first two hours are stressful, but when you get to game time or the start of the show, it all goes away.
“You don’t have time to stress, you’re just in it,” Barteck said. “You just go, you work off your instincts and you talk to the players and the coaches and the families, and they show appreciation for that work, it’s worth every ounce of effort that you put into it.”
If you have any experience in the film or television industries, you already know that nothing ever goes 100% according to plan.
To aid in this challenge, senior Jess Liptzin, who has hosted both the homecoming and basketball live shows alongside fellow senior broadcast intern Jon Kociban, highlights how crucial preparation is when it comes to navigating the obstacles of live production.
“We didn’t just prepare for one rundown this time, we prepared for if it to go sideways and whatever [other] way it [could go] … We made it more flexible,” Liptzin said.
According to junior RHSN producer Jason Naccarella, the crew was unfamiliar with the provided technology and equipment last time. RHSN production intern and director of the live show Alex Grabiec said the streaming crashed during the first live show, cutting the original two-hour pre-show in half.
This go-around, more time and energy was spent on hardwiring power using lots of cables so that, as Grabiec said, the producers could “control every element [possible].” The team reported to campus around 8:30 a.m. to set up equipment and give everyone time to review the rundown, and the long day’s work paid off in the end.
Naccarella was excited about the improvements made to equipment, saying they got to use “actual TV cameras from the cage [which] allowed [them] to hardwire power and produce great quality picture.”
Plus, they switched to software that allowed the production team to use more than two cameras and benefitted them with smoother navigation and switching. These advancements made sideline reporting a possibility for the network and also provided alternate angles of the bench to capture team reactions.
Liptzin was confident in the success of the production early Saturday morning, expressing his gratitude for the opportunity.
“It’s just about having fun, you know. That’s all I want to do with this,” Liptzin said.”I’m excited to have the opportunity, I’m excited that [Montclair State] gives us the opportunity, and first is the worst, second is the best. That’s the motto.”
In addition to the men’s basketball team’s Senior Day, the seniors of RHSN were also honored before game time, sparking reminiscent conversations amongst those involved. Kociban, one of the hosts of the broadcast, expressed his happiness with the network’s journey to their current product.
“There was a time when we thought we wouldn’t be here at all, it was just a pipe dream,” Kociban said. “When we started the [RHSN], it was calling lacrosse and basketball games, and that was it, but we are so much more than that now.”
This semester, RHSN has converted the highlight show style of “Inside the Nest” into a studio show and is looking to implement more live broadcast events into the schedule for the coming season. In the spirit of growth, there’s only one direction the RHSN can go in, and that’s up.
“We’ve been watching it grow,” Kociban said. “We couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve built and just seeing that it has a bright future … I’m so excited about where we’re at and where we can go, as well.”