KUJH set gets a new look
After working on a set nearly 30 years old, broadcasting students are finally using newer, modern facilities
Fall 2018 Edition
When Chad Curtis interviewed for the position of news director for KU’s student-run television station, he immediately noticed that the KUJH-TV set was outdated and in need of a major upgrade.
The set was donated to the university from a Kansas City station, and it was well over 30 years old.
Curtis says it was dark and not visually interesting. There were pictures of day and night shots of the Kansas City skyline that weren’t even accurate of what it looks like today. Not to mention that KUJH is in Lawrence, not Kansas City.
Once Curtis was hired, he started brainstorming possibilities for how he could improve the facilities. Initially, he thought about getting a completely new set, which would’ve been expensive but also the easiest option.
As he continuously studied the old set, he began to see potential in its structure.
“It actually didn’t make a lot of sense to rip this thing out and start over,” Curtis said. “Even though the look was very dated, the bones were very strong.”
After getting approval for the project, he went straight into planning the logistics of how the set was going to be revamped. However, KUJH newscasts couldn’t just stop because of the remodeling.
A major challenge they faced was coordinating when the crews could come in to work on the set and when they were doing newscasts. As a result, this delayed the goal to have the set completed over the winter break before the Spring 2018 semester.
However, the set was about 90 percent completed before the spring semester started. Curtis couldn’t wait until the summer to complete it because he wanted the 2018 graduates to use the new set on their resume reels. It was a way to prove “that they’re ready to go into the industry and work.”
So, they needed to work on the set while still having a newscast on air during the main semesters, which was achieved.
The idea was to give the new set a modern clean look. The banks of monitors allowed for more controlled and smooth transitions from story to story. In addition, building a platform, moving the lights, and installing a state-of-the-art system adds to the comtemporary appearance.
In total, the project took nearly a full year to complete. Looking back, Curtis is glad that students have the chance to work on an improved and modern-looking set. He says they love the bold look of it and when anchors are on it, there is the sense of “now” that is important in news.
Curtis decided to stray away from the traditional news sets where anchors sit at a desk. Instead, any anchor can be in any spot during the newscasts without the confines of a desk. In fact, many news stations are abandoning the desk in favor of mobility.
This shows that the KUJH set is looking forward at where the industry is going.
Having an up-to-date set “gives credibility to the stories we’re doing today,” Curtis said.
Curtis says organizations like KUJH put many KU graduates ahead of the game when news managers are hiring. The look of the newscast is not the most important thing that employers are looking for; however, it most definitely helps students stand out.
The combination of talent, practice, skills and the modern look of the set gives KU J-School graduates the “ultimate full package,” Curtis said.
From the start of this project Curtis had one goal in mind that kept him going: “It is very high on my priority list to get everybody to the point where they have what they need at graduation to enter the workplace of journalism.”
–– Angel Tran is a senior from Wichita, Kansas, studying news and information.