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UNK students find fulfillment working at NTV
Ryan Larsen
Antelope Staff
Photo by Ryan Larsen
Craig Hall, a sophomore Education major from Bassett, maneuvers a camera at NTV where he gains real world experience by working a part-time job.

When I was hired at NTV back in September of 2007, one my bosses at the time told me that passion is a key component to success in the news business. The passion to help make the product the best it can be, through determination, creativity and teamwork. I wouldn’t say that all seven of the UNK students who currently work at NTV have “passion.” While many of those who work there do so for experience and possible futures in news, they may not all have an intense zeal for the business. It can be difficult to have enthusiasm when a day at work usually involves dealing with malfunctioning equipment and constant stress, all while trying to balance life as a student. But there is something, not passion, but something that makes work enjoyable for the part-time production assistants at NTV.

For those that don’t know, NTV is a television news station that covers stories in central Nebraska. If you tune into channel 13 you will find NTV programming throughout the day, including morning and noon newscasts, and the "Good Life" talk show. But it’s during the nightly news where UNK students can be found at work behind-the-scenes.

NTV is a place where anyone interested in the field of broadcasting can find a wealth of opportunities for experience. From directing to producing, shooting video to editing tapes, the range of work available is unparalleled in Kearney. Part-time production assistants have the option of interchanging their roles in the newsroom. While each has a primary job, you may often find a tape editor posting video on the Web, or a camera operator making graphics that go on-air. Those involved in the operation are always learning new things.

While you can put your tape editing or graphic-making skills to the test at NTV, you’ll have to do so with a considerable amount of patience. Equipment is constantly breaking, malfunctioning or out of commission due to repair. A primary reason for this is due to the age of the equipment, much of which is generations behind modern standards. It’s a problem that frustrates many. Making jobs more tedious in the newsroom and “technical difficulties” happen too often during live broadcasts.

Stress can also be an issue for those working at the station. Not only is it a result of dealing with ancient equipment, but also from having to meet constant deadlines. The students who work nights have to assist with the 5, 6 and 10 o’clock news, without much room for down time. There is always work to be done. Some days can be downright overbearing and often involve accomplishing multiple tasks at once.

The effort put in, especially from part-time workers, can go overlooked by others. Production assistants in more ways than one are the unsung heroes of the newsroom. They help with nearly every facet of live newscasts. They compile the video, operate the cameras, run the audio board, insert the graphics and direct the shows. But while it may just be the nature of the business, the accomplishments of behind-the-scenes workers can seem unappreciated. Instead, it’s the failures that stand out and get noticed.

While factors such as stress can deflate one’s motivation, there are some things that make the job at NTV worthwhile—teamwork, camaraderie and friendship.

Television news is a business that thrives on competition. Stations battle it out to see who can achieve the highest ratings. Higher ratings equal more advertising dollars, which equals more money for the station. While NTV is at a disadvantage in terms of equipment, the people there make up for it by putting forth a collective effort. They understand each person has a role in creating a successful live newscast. They push for each other to achieve. If one of them looks bad, the rest of them look bad. Each person carries a share of the load.

It’s also something about working in a small market, low-budget news station that just brings people together. Much of it is a result of facing the same challenges and struggles and complaining to each other about them. It almost seems therapeutic for some to vent their frustration over a broken edit bay, because everyone else in the newsroom has already dealt with the same problem.

In the meantime we do find an escape.  It’s not always a stressful environment at the station. We find time to laugh, joke and have fun in light of everything. When we’re not at the station we do stuff together. Even though we share the common bond of work, many of us have similar interests beyond that. It’s not hard to find NTV crewmembers out and about.

So it’s safe to say, despite the challenges and stresses that come with the territory at NTV, there is still a sense of enjoyment and fulfillment for those who work there. It’s a place where successful media students first learn the ropes and get real world experience, while building friendships along the way. I can tell you first-hand that it is a one-of-a-kind place, and while I intend to move on to bigger and better things, I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything.

Reporter Ryan Larsen

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