A whole new Outlook

Jessica Sasseen

In a dark corner of the WKYU-PBS station, instrumental music begins to play. Barbara Deeb flashes a casual smile as the studio lights grow brighter.

She looks into the camera and assertively, yet comfortably, questions her guests.

Behind the stage, students and professionals work hand-in-hand to produce “Outlook,” a half-hour educational program tackling community and national issues.

“It’s a public affairs program,” said Louisville senior Kathleen Speicher, associate producer of the show. “It’s informing the public about different areas and issues and situations that are going on.”

On Wednesday afternoons, the show comes together when guests are invited into the WKYU-PBS studio in the Academic Complex.

They enter the set through a narrow hallway lined with posters of famous PBS characters like Big Bird and Barney. The studio is a large, dark room filled with small stages, props and cameras.

A bright light is beaming on a simple desk and chairs. “Outlook” is taped live in the small, newly refurbished corner of the studio.

“Lights, Camera, Action”

When WKYU-PBS was converted from a campus station to a local public television station, Deeb, formerly of Channel 13 news, returned to public broadcasting.

By working with a 13-person professional staff, “Outlook” relies on student volunteers and employees.

“Students run the cameras, run the switcher, they dub tapes, they run audio, they make graphics,” Speicher said. “Basically, they do a lot of the production.”

The students receive no class credit for their work, but they say it’s well worth their time.

Sophomore production manager Aron Pryor feels working with “Outlook” provides a valuable experience for both employees and viewers.

“The way that I look at it, it allows viewers to see a different side of the story,” Pryor said. “We can learn a lot more here than we do in classes.

After we get out of here, we can get a job based on tapes and experience.”

“Today we are featuring…”

Deeb said the idea for the show was derived from a need to showcase public affairs in the community.

“We try to do timely, informative topics,” she said. “For example, when there were school shootings and the situation last year with 9/11, right away we were on that.”

The choice for show topics and guests is usually made by Deeb.

“Outlook” has a rich history of interesting and famous guests including the late Wendy’s restaurant founder Dave Thomas, “Designing Women” actress Dixie Carter and fiction writer R.L. Stine.

The show also spotlights community and campus leaders like President Gary Ransdell.

Upcoming shows will feature segments on race relations, alternative lifestyles, meningitis, family court, protecting senior citizens and Senate Bill 55.

“We do some segments that are usually covered in the news, but you get such a small amount of information over a short period of time,” lead director of “Outlook,” Cheryl Beckley said. “What we are able to do is take that information and pull it out to the point where people can not only get that information but understand it and use it.”

One guest in particular stands out in the minds of the show’s administration.

A comedian named Geri Jewell, who has cerebral palsy, was the featured guest. Jewell used the opportunity to talk not only about her humor, but also about her disease. According to Deeb and Beckley, this remains the most requested show.

Recent guest Melinda Joyce, director of Pharmacy from the Medical Center, said that “Outlook” provides an important service to the community.

“When you are able to have a local personality such as Barbara Deeb . address timely topics and find appropriate guest to bring that information,” Joyce said, “it brings a new dimension and helps a great deal.”

As the weekly taping wraps up, the camera pans slowly back to Deeb and the instrumental music returns.

People anxiously work behind the scenes to close another show. The process of gathering ideas, booking guests and thinking of interview questions will soon begin again.

Deeb looks into the camera, flashes her smile and thanks viewers for watching.

“Outlook” airs Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 p.m. on WKYU-PBS.

BEGIN ITAL Reach Jessica Sasseen at [email protected]