Hollywood hopefuls may finally have an outlet for their talents here at Yale.
For the first time in Yale history, students will have access to their own campus television station. Administrators have given them permission to take over one of Yale’s six closed-circuit television cable stations to air student productions, campus events and other student-selected programming.
The station, which is scheduled to be constructed by the end of the spring semester, will be located in the basement of Linsly-Chittenden Hall. Tyler Golson ’04, one of the station’s organizers, said interested students will be able to begin airing and viewing productions on the Yale cable network in early September.
Yale TV, or YTV, has been almost two years in the making. Golson, who originally thought up the idea for YTV during the summer after his freshman year, said his childhood fantasy of becoming a game-show host inspired his involvement in the creation of a Yale student television station.
“I found out Yale students didn’t have access to a television station after I thought up my own quiz show,” he said. “Then I discovered how many other schools did have stations, and I really started looking into it.”
Golson said he asked Debra Weinstein ’04 and Garren Givens ’04 to get involved with the project, and about two years ago, they began researching student-run stations at Cornell, Tufts and Columbia. By the end of the last academic year, they had compiled a comprehensive 15-page business proposition that included projected costs, the infrastructure of the organization and the applicable FCC regulations, Golson said. They then submitted the proposal to several administrators.
“Dean [of Student Affairs Betty] Trachtenberg and Dean [of Administrative Affairs John] Meeske were accepting of the idea, under the right conditions,” Weinstein said.
Responding to administrative concerns about the possibility of inappropriate content and inconsistent student leadership, YTV organizers said they began surveying the student population to determine interest and continued meeting with administrators to push the project forward.
The students said they resolved the two central administrative concerns by drafting a basic constitution, consistent with the Handbook of Undergraduate Regulations, to guide the use of the channel. The document mandated that students have mutual respect and that they utilize responsibility for the television station.
The students also conducted a survey last fall to gauge student interest in the concept of YTV, Givens said. Of 1,000 responses, Golson said the overwhelming majority — over 90 percent — of student respondents said they would work on, or at least watch, a future Yale student-run television station.
Research completed, Golson, Givens, Weinstein and their fellow coordinators waited for a response. Just a few weeks ago, their hard work paid off.
“The e-mails went to phone calls, and the phone calls went to meetings,” Golson said. “And then administration finally ran out of concerns and convinced each other to let us take the project on.”
While the administration has promised to pay a few basic startup costs, it will not provide separate funding for the station and its productions, Golson said. From there, students will be responsible for creating and playing the tapes that will be on television.
But there is no rush to secure funding for next year, Weinstein said.
“There are resources available on campus for making films,” she said. “The media center rents out cameras, and it’s easy to find locations everywhere, so it isn’t really essential that we provide those things to students who want to produce programs.”
There are other logistical questions the students said they will have to sort out before the start of the next school year. Organizers said they are uncertain they will be able to fill 24 hours of broadcasting time every day.
Initially, due to funding and time constraints, Golson said the group will loop an archived collection of films from the film studies department, but he added that they hope to expand programming to student films, master’s teas, a cappella concerts, sports events, talk shows and other original student programs.
Charles Musser, director of undergraduate studies for the Film Studies Department, said he believes the television station will be a valuable asset to the University and the community in general and added that Film Studies plans to support YTV with productions and trained students. He also expressed hope that YTV will become a part of the film studies curriculum sometime in the future.
“It may finally be time that the University find a way to hire someone, at least on a junior level, to teach a few courses on this method of communication,” he said. “That person could interface with YTV.”
Student producers said they feel the station has the potential to provide a valuable jumpstart for student programs.
David Lieberman ’03 produced and starred in a cooking show that has aired on Connecticut public broadcasting this year. He said the show would have benefited from YTV.
“It’s difficult to promote something that’s on public access,” he said. “Publicity for an on-campus station would have been much easier and made the program a lot more accessible.”
Although the station will only reach the Yale community, organizers said they are optimistic about expanding to wider audiences.
“We would like to have one more activity that students can get involved with and be passionate about,” Givens said. “This is a great way to showcase the talent on this campus.”
Of course, they also have their personal goals.
“I still hope to have that quiz show someday,” Golson said.