NewsChannel 12 to debut newly renovated set

Students Mackenzie Noffsinger, a sophomore from Murfeesboro, Tenn., and Katherine Kirby, a junior from Bowling Green, sit at the news desk in Academic Complex during a lab class on Monday morning on Sept 19, 2011. The remodeled News Channel 12 station will air their first broadcast on Tuesday, Sept 20, 2011.

Cameron Koch

WKU’s student-run newscast, NewsChannel 12, will premiere its brand-new look tonight after winning the Ultimate Newscast Makeover contest.

The show’s new set design will debut at 6 p.m. on WKU Residence Life Channel, channel 12 and will replay at midnight on WKYU-PBS.

“You hope the audience is coming for the content, but I certainly think now if somebody is flipping the channel they are going to be drawn into much more easily because it is so much more visually appealing,” said Jo-Anne Ryan, the faculty advisor for NewsChannel 12 and assistant director for the School of Journalism and Broadcasting.

While searching for a company to redesign the NewsChannel 12 set last year, student T.J. Parker and assistant professor Celeste Stein stumbled upon a national contest sponsored by the FX Design Group.

Students soon got involved, crafting a video to show how desperately the newscast needed a new set.

Ryan described the video as “tongue-in-cheek,” with the students going as far as making the video appear in black and white to make the set seem even older.

Louisville senior Lauren Cash, a student reporter for the sports show “Extra Point” at NewsChannel 12, believed WKU was in dire need of a set that met expectations.

“For Western being a top broadcasting journalism school, our set wasn’t meeting the talent,” Cash said.

After making it past the first phase of the contest, NewsChannel 12 then entered the process of acquiring more votes than the competition.

Franklin, Tenn., senior Nick Morgan, news director for the newscast, helped get the word out about the competition.

“We created a Facebook page; we handed out flyers; we were putting posters up in DUC just trying to get the word out,” Morgan said. “The whole newscast really came together and helped us put that out.”

Despite lagging behind in votes for the whole competition, NewsChannel 12 learned that the rival newscast based out of Michigan was cheating and thus became disqualified.

Cash couldn’t believe WKU had won.

“I freaked out,” Cash said. “I was so excited.”

After winning, students and faculty then had to decide on the set’s new look.

“The original plan was they were going to refurbish the existing set, but then they got a look at it and they said, ‘Hey, we will just give you a new set,’” Ryan said.

Students and faculty then collaborated with FX Design Group to create a sketch of what the new set would look like.

The new set is a stark contrast to the old, with the new set being backlit and hosting flat screen monitors in the desks and on set. NewsChannel 12 also received all-new graphics and music for the newscast.

“When you look at it, it’s not just some random set,” Cash said. “You say, ‘That is Western Kentucky’s set.’”

Ryan hopes that the new set will draw more viewers to the newscast than before.

Morgan said the staff as a whole is excited about the chance to use a new set.

“We are the first people to use this brand new stuff,” Morgan said. “It’s really special for us because for us it’s the best of both worlds.

“We were there for the transition. It’s kind of switching eras almost.”