USD’s radio, TV bring home college awards

The College Broadcasters Inc. was starting to see red by the end of the National Student Production Contest awards in Louisville, KY.

In a contest with entries from over 500 schools, the University of South Dakota was well represented.

Not only did USD have eight finalist entries, two of the projects came home with the top prize, causing the announcer to make a bit of a statement.

"You could hear in the audio the announcer say 'USD is becoming a powerhouse in the awards,'" said Todd Mechling, who is the advisor for U.Imagine and KYOT-TV, USD's student television station on channel 21.The announcer's statement wasn't too far off either.

Not only did KYOT and U.Imagine win for Best Promotional Video, it had another entry among the four finalists in the category.

"With 500 schools, just to get chosen and to have two promos as the finalists is great," Mechling said. "It was pretty amazing that we even won."

91.1 KAOR, USD's student-run radio station, was also well represented. Chris Dexter won Best Radio Technical Production and he also had another finalist in the same category.

"I was proud of my students at that point," said KAOR's advisor Candy Walton. "This was the best we have ever done, and next year we hope to do even better."

Walton actually didn't get a chance to hear Dexter's entry before the award ceremony.

"It went from listening to ho-hum audio to a sound clip that you could feel," she said.

The clip came from Dexter's show "The Den Sessions," which airs every Friday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Dexter's audio clip was a mash-up, which is when two or more songs are put together to make one song, something that Dexter has been doing for a while.

"Mixing music is something I like to do, and something I did before I moved to Vermillion," he said. "It's something I wanted to get on the air. Back home, mixing was just a hobby for me and a break from a very mundane job."

Dexter decided just before the contest deadline to enter the clip.

"Honestly, it was at the very last minute that I thought of sending it in while I was reading the guidelines," he said. "I thought it just fit with the technical production, and I felt it was something different; something not a lot of people would think of doing and would set me apart from the rest."

Even though Dexter had the goal of having at least one of his two entries make it to the finals, he was still surprised he won.

"I was pretty much shocked when I won the award because I was going up against so many different bigger schools," he said. "As far as being a finalist, that was the most gratifying. Winning was the icing on the cake, but being a finalist proved to me that I am pursuing the right career path."
U.Imagine went a bit more of a risky route when it came to its award-winning production, which was named "U-News Stripper."

The title for the video sounds like exactly what it is.

"The way I run the class is we brainstorm, and I asked them to come up with three ideas," Mechling said.

One of his of students, Jon Bauman, came back with the tagline "news so good you would pay for it."

The group liked it and talked about how they could implement the idea and in the end, they decided on a stripper.

The crew, which consisted of Bauman, Mychal Bogan, Chelsey Brown, Nichole Bushman, Mike Hixson, Kelsey Jensen, Ashley Johnson, Kevin LaHood Burns, Shonda Tomaszewki and Dara Weitala, ran with the idea and worked out the details to film it at the Charcoal Lounge.

"My students were familiar with the downtown scene, and they said the Char Bar has the dance floor and dancer's pole," Mechling said.

Once the group found a place to film it, they needed someone to be the stripper. However, there was a catch �" the stripper had to wear a big television set with the number 21 on it. Only the "stripper's" legs would show.
The group was able to get Amy Mart, a member of U.Dance, to play the part.

"Amy agreed and it was just her legs, and she came up with the idea of fishnets and heels," Mechling said. "I also had to keep it quiet because some of the conservative members of the department might not have liked it, plus Amy's mom is a teller at Bank of the West, where I bank, and I thought she would've slapped me."
The group also got some help from Carl Heinze, who helped film it and provided a smoke machine to give the video a smoky bar look.

The risk paid off for U.Imagine, and when the video was played at the awards, it was well received.

"It starts off with the kids holding up dollars and you see her feet, and it pans up and you see her in the U.News outfit," said Walton, who was at the awards. "It was very funny and well done. When they played it, all the people laughed."

Getting laughs is what Mechling usually tries to get his U.Imagine group to go for.

"We try to go humorous; it's more fun," he said. "I never did hear what Amy's dad thought of it."

Several other students with entries that were finalists in the contest include Cindee Talley, Jordan Boehmer, Seth Sinclair and Marty Schoenleber for best regularly scheduled radio programs, Michael Dailey for best radio promotion, Dustin Lutt for best documentary/public affair, Kristin Keller, Heinze and Chelsey Brown for best television promotion and Kyle Nickolite and Chris Kirkeby for best television comedy.

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