When Duncan Cheng ’07 tuned in to channel 24 the other day, he was pleasantly surprised to find that the film being aired was a “chick flick.” For him, it was a welcome change from the student films typical of late night Yale TV.
“The other movies are usually kind of strange,” he said.
While his mixed reaction to YTV’s programming has not deterred Cheng from tuning in four times a week, some Yalies criticize the station for its “poor” choice of shows, and refuse to leave their dials on YTV for more time than channel surfing will allow.
But incoming YTV President Alexandra Reeve ’05 said students should not be too quick to criticize YTV, as offering original daily programming over the past year has been a major feat.
“The amount of work that goes into a single episode is phenomenal,” Reeve said.
YTV was initially conceived by Tyler Golson ’04, the outgoing president and station manager, during his freshman year. Three years later, the station debuted on television screens throughout campus, offering four hours of original programming a day from 10 to 12 p.m., four days a week, Reeve said.
She said viewers seldom tune in to a blank screen, as YTV is able to offer continuous programming by taping on-campus events such as Master’s Teas and featuring the works of aspiring Yale filmmakers from the past five years.
Next year, she said, YTV hopes “at least” to continue its regularly scheduled programs, which include The Yale Show, Rabble Rouser and YTV News.
YTV News, produced by Rachel Denison ’06, was a staple of YTV programming this year, filmed on a weekly schedule. YTV News anchor Kristen Kovner ’04 said the progress of the show reflects the growth of YTV as a whole.
When the show first hit the airwaves in October, Kovner said, members of the crew were “just winging it.”
“We had no clue what we were doing — we didn’t have a teleprompter, we were doing national news, episodes were filmed in five or six segments,” she said.
Kovner is a former features editor for the Yale Daily News.
Six months later, YTV News filmed its final episode of the season — in just one segment, she said.
While shows such as YTV News will likely continue to be network standbys, the station’s number-one priority as it enters its second year is to “pin down what students want” in order to develop programming that appeals to a wider audience, YTV Development Director Debra Weinstein ’04 said.
The station’s endeavors to attract more viewers began this year with the filming of one episode of “Queer Eye for the Yale Guy,” Golson said. Unfortunately, a technical malfunction prevented the show from being aired. But Golson said YTV is working on developing versions of “Blind Date” and “MTV Cribs,” as well as a drama, “The O.C.,” which will uncover freshmen intrigues on Old Campus.
David Margines ’04, YTV’s Financial Director, said the station’s need to run a “low budget” operation this year — which limited the new station’s programming capabilities — was the result of modest funding.
At universities such as Harvard, generous donations from alumni or the school are often the catalysts for television stations, Margines said. He said YTV is therefore somewhat unique in that it arose as the result of the persistent efforts of a few students whose main source of funding was the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee.
But thanks to equipment donations from residential colleges including Jonathan Edwards, Golson’s college, and the contributions of staff members, YTV was able to build a strong foundation for next year, Margines said.
Next year, the station hopes to make progress toward becoming a multi-million dollar enterprise like Harvard-Radcliffe TV, increasing its revenues by selling airtime for advertisements to campus organizations and local businesses at “competitive” prices, Margines said.
“[One of] our big goals has been to create an all-encompassing venue for messages, events, ads and shows,” he said.
Several groups on campus have already expressed interest in advertising, Margines said. With increased funding and an all new board of officers going into next year, Margines is optimistic about YTV’s prospects for the future.
“We’ll build ourselves up to that million dollars soon enough,” he said.