Drake Broadcasting Systems Adjusting to Remote Campus

Keeping programs running during social distancing

By Celia Brocker, May 2020

Despite months of planning, the Drake Broadcasting System (DBS) has had to rethink its coverage of the Drake Relays after it was announced the event was postponed until June due to concerns over COVID-19. 

The Drake Relays are without a doubt the biggest event hosted by Drake University every year. It takes months of preparation, and people come from all over to compete in the track events. 

Other organizations like DBS also put in significant work to prepare for the Relays, planning coverage of the event for those who cannot attend. 

DBS is one of Drake’s student-led media groups, helping students gain more experience in practicing journalism. DBS involves video production, radio streaming, podcasting and more. But since Drake has moved to virtual learning to prevent spreading Covid-19, DBS’s coverage plan has to adapt to the current climate, including their coverage of the Drake Relays. 

“Given that our broadcasts require large casts and crews, we are going to take a substantial hit in involvement over the summer as most students will no longer be in Des Moines,” DBS President Lucius Pham said. “We are trying to adapt to the changes and, while we might not have our conventional broadcasts, we’ll still try and keep some content rolling.”

During the Relays, DBS becomes more active than ever, since they have a larger audience to reach. According to Ty Patton, the assistant athletic director of Drake University, 40,000 fans on average come to the Drake Stadium gates that week to celebrate the competition. 

“It is one of the biggest annual events in Des Moines that attracts a wide range of fans and visitors, from friends and families of competitors, track fans, alumni and the community as a whole,” Patton said. “Coverage from a media perspective helps highlight the city of Des Moines, Iowa and Drake University as a whole.”

The athletes themselves also benefit, since they receive a great deal of support and recognition, something they may not have received without media coverage. 

“Media reports are often viewed as the first draft of history, and history is made every day during the Relays,” Patton said. “Coverage can provide nuance and background to how and why an athlete was able to set a national record that the sheet with the results cannot adequately show.”

Since the Relays, initially scheduled for April, have been postponed until this summer (the date is still to be determined), DBS has had to re-plan their broadcasts without the Relays. And because learning has gone remote, there is an added challenge. 

“DBS relies heavily on on-campus involvement in collaborative projects such as videos and live-studio productions,” Pham said. “Additionally, many students won’t have access to radio booths in their homes, but we’re still trying to field and publish as much content as we can remotely.”

DBS has needed to put a lot of time and effort during Relays week in the past to produce the best content possible. The biggest time commitment is the pre-show broadcasts leading up to the Relays, where DBS tries to get competing and visiting athletes on their shows. 

Drake senior and former DBS President Adam Heater has been involved with the program since his first year at Drake, and has firsthand experience of the opportunities Drake students earn covering the Relays, including meeting famous athletes. Heater was able to get an Olympian on one the DBS programs –  Georganne Moline, a competitor in the 2012 Olympic games for the 400 meter hurdles. 

“That was the most surreal experience, getting to meet the people who are actually going to compete the next day,” Heater said. 

DBS provides students with lots of opportunities to practice and improve their skills in the field, and not just during the Relays. Despite the current situation, the doors are still open for students to get involved with DBS. 

“Students wanting to innovate and create content remotely over this period should definitely get involved with DBS and we can make something happen,” Pham said. 

To find out more about DBS or get involved with the origination, find them on social media or reach out via email.



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