Hotline Happenings: Students voice opinions about upcoming election

Ben Sadkowski/Staff Writer

The lights dim and the floor director counts 3-2-1 and go. The cameras roll and the show begins as viewers tune in from across the district.

Hotline is a TV show run out of the Cedar Falls City Hall and airs every Wednesday at 4 p.m. on the local access channel. The production crew is mostly comprised of ALPHA students out of Peet, Holmes and the high school.

On Wednesday, Oct. 15, Hotline aired a political debate between juniors Alex Clopton, Michael Droste, Alex Entz and Vincent Stigliani.

“Hotline provided a great oppurtunity for me to express my personal opinions,” Entz said.
The debators were also impressed with the professionalism of the show. “I thought it (the debate) went well. I think it’s good to get kids involved in these sorts of issues, Stigliani said.
The Hotline student crew is used to deadline pressures. “When the cameras start rolling, there is some nervousness and excitement for me because we know that something could go wrong at any time and we have to react fast to get the problem solved,” freshman Sara Gabriele said.
Even though the tension before going on-air can be nerve-wracking, the students working on each show feel that the experience is rewarding.

“It’s scary and exciting, and it makes you extremely nervous, but it also makes you feel like you’re doing something really worthwhile,” junior Rachel Connelly said.

Although Hotline may appear effortless, the work that goes into it is considerable. “During one show last year we were covering documentary filmmakers while there was drilling being done in City Hall. On top of that, a part of a film we were going to play didn’t work, so we had to improvise on the spot. We canned the show and since we had taped it, we played it on a later date,” Gabriele said.

A “canned” show is one that has been recorded previously and can be used as a safeguard in case something goes wrong during a live broadcast.

A few very prominent seniors left the show last year thanks to graduation, and their absence has been felt in the studio. Perhaps the most prominent of them all was Briana McGeough.
“Brianna was very gifted at being able to pull a lot together in a short time and was a great host. On the negative side, she did several people’s jobs, and now it’s difficult to fill all of the empty slots she had,” ALPHA teacher Tim Kangas said.

There are many jobs available to students, including cameraperson, scorekeeper (for trivia games), floor director, director and audio controller. About 15 students are working in the show each time it airs.

“My job is to choose the camera shots, and I’m the overall coordinator of the show,” Connelly said.

Hotline covers many topics each year. This season, some major topics will be the elections, new students and teachers in the district, and the flooding from last summer.

“We try to be timely, and we try to keep up with what’s going on,”
Kangas said.

Being in Hotline can help open career opportunities for students because of all the training they receive while working on the show.

“I’m not sure if I want to go specifically into broadcast journalism, but the problem-solving aspect and thinking skills you get out of Hotline are really useful. I really like being in the studio and working with all of the equipment. Just the experience of being there is really valuable,” Gabriele said.

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