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OMN strives to lead the college media field by elevating diverse student voices through innovative and accessible hands-on media and leadership experiences that challenge views, engage the community and celebrate resilience
Andres De Los Santos wants to get as many people on KBVR-FM as he can. Hayley Lemke-Davis, Life Skills educational assistant, wants opportunities for students to share their voices.
Thanks to a new partnership between Orange Media Network and the Corvallis School District, both sides have their wish.
Lemke-Davis works with students in the school district’s WINGS transition program. The organization, whose acronym stands for Work experience, Instruction, Networking, Goal setting and Self-determination, is for students ages 18-21 who received a modified diploma or certificate of attendance.
The mission of WINGS is to help young adults with diverse abilities work toward their own self-identified goals in terms of employment, leisure activities and independent living, said Angela Faulk, a special education teacher with the WINGS program. It’s based at Crescent Valley High School.
WINGS participants visit OSU often but had never been to the radio station, Faulk said. That changed after Lemke-Davis and her partner, Alex McIntire - a fourth-year marine biology major and KBVR disc jockey who goes by DJ Eddie Mac - ran into De Los Santos one evening.
Lemke-Davis had already been talking to McIntire about a possible visit to the station, which can be heard at 88.7 FM. De Los Santos, McIntire said, “was immediately on board, and wanted to make it happen for us.”
With agreement from CSD, FM adviser Steven Sandberg and the rest of the FM cohort, about a dozen WINGS students made five visits in all to the DJ booth in February during the 2022-23 winter term.
“The experience was, ‘Come on the radio! Say hi to your parents, request a song, talk about what you love,’” De Los Santos said. “Our hearts were just melting, seeing them be so happy.”
Some visitors were a little shy, while some took to the experience right away, talking over the airwaves about their favorite songs, sports or animals. One gave her father a “happy birthday” shoutout. Another requested a Jonas Brothers song, “Sucker.”
WINGS participant Maycee MacKimmie said she requested “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson during her visit to the station. Her favorite part of the experience? “The microphones,” she said. Yes, she said, she’d love to visit again.
MacKimmie’s visit, along with those of her classmates, can be heard on KBVR’s website at https://kbvrfm.orangemedianetwork.com/wings-program-visits-kbvr-fm/.
Lemke-Davis was a tremendous help, Faulk said, going with every session so there would be a staff member familiar with the procedure.
“We have some students who don’t use words to speak - they have a speech generating device,” Faul noted. “She helped those students be prepared ahead of time so they could use the device on the radio.”
McIntire was on hand during each visit, and Lemke-Davis prepped the program participants by having them practice questions ahead of time.
“I kept some of them really basic, just not to overwhelm some students: What’s your name? What music did you choose? And do you have any questions for Alex?’ Some of them had a lot to ask him about turntables and things like that.”
Lemke-Davis said she’d love to continue the WINGS-FM visits during spring term if scheduling can be arranged. McIntire is a graduating senior and WINGS participants already have a schedule that includes swimming, bowling, work experience and other transition activities. Finding matching time slots was the main sticking point.
She said it is important, however, to keep interaction going for WINGS students, who are the same age as their OSU counterparts and should be among them as often as they can.
“It’s important for us to look around and see people with diverse abilities on a college campus,” she said. It isn’t always the case that students like MacKimmie can “present themselves as equals and as their peers.”
Faulk said the opportunity for WINGS visitors to literally send their voices into the community was a gift to each of them as well as to their families.
“When our students exit (WINGS), their participation in the community at large and their interactions with neurotypical people plummet,” she said. “Metaphorically, it’s like they disappear from community awareness. Inclusion at large tends to diminish dramatically. So for our students to be included in this manner is just a fabulous step toward visibility and inclusion in the large community.”
Plus, she said, it was just plain fun.
“Frequently, we were driving from lunch back to the high school campus when our students were on, so we put it on the bus, and when one of our students would come on and speak or introduce their song, the whole bus would erupt: ‘Aahh, that’s Maycee!’” Faulk remembered. “And we’d all sing and dance to the song they chose.”
For De Los Santos, a senior majoring in English and creative writing, the best part of bringing people into the station is seeing it through their eyes. “This is like a spaceship! You know how to operate everything?” he hears them say.
“I love seeing their faces light up when they walk in,” he said. “The face they make when they were on the radio for the first time, and I was a part of it? It was a memory and a bond I will always have.”
Nobody can tell the story of a university better than its students. But rare is the university newsroom that can exist without outside funding.
That’s why The Daily Barometer is participating in “College Media Madness,” an annual fundraising event that offers audiences the opportunity to jump on a basketball-style bracket to support their favorite college or university reporters.
“Essentially, it is 31 different college newsrooms from across the country, raising money for our newsrooms in a friendly, competitive manner,” said Riley LeCocq, the 2022-23 editor in chief of The Barometer.
Fundraising runs through April 3. Information on the effort as a whole is available at http://collegemediamadness.com/. The Baro’s team link can be found through the Oregon State University Foundation’s “Beavs Give” campaign, https://www.beavsgive.org/organizations/barometer-college-media-madness-fundraiser.
First published as The College Barometer on March 16, 1896, The Barometer has chronicled student life on and off campus for 127 years.
Currently a part of Orange Media Network - which also includes three magazines, a television studio and a radio station - The Barometer publishes a physical paper every month along with posting regular online and social media content.
The paper is supported almost entirely by student fees, a system that generally works well for day-to-day operations, such as payroll and most publishing decisions.
It gets challenging under unusual circumstances, such as when the sports team wants to travel with the Beavers to a championship game, staffers need vehicle access for news coverage or the editorial board weighs adding a new position or special section. That’s where donations can come in.
Last year - the first year The Barometer participated in College Media Madness - some of the donations helped send reporters to Allegiant Stadium, where Oregon State beat the University of Florida in the Last Vegas Bowl.
“Since Beaver Nation has such support already, we want to be able to be there for these moments,” LeCocq said.
Donations help to support news coverage in small ways, too, she added. For instance, earlier this year, a staffer who lives off campus was tapped to take a story involving a town hall meeting with Congressional representatives, but didn’t have a way to get to it. OMN reimbursed his rideshare costs.
“We want to be able to support our writers so it’s not money out of their pockets,” LeCocq said. “It doesn’t matter if you can donate $10 or $100, we appreciate the support, regardless.”
LeCocq, a third-year kinesiology major from Vancouver, Washington, joined OMN as a columnist during her first year at OSU. Stuck in her residence hall studying biology and chemistry during the COVID-19 pandemic, she found herself missing the opportunity to write.
Prior to becoming a columnist, her only writing experience was through essays, she said. “My first readout was really rough,” she recalled. “After the first story, it got a lot easier.”
LeCocq said she stayed with OMN because she loved having a place where she could talk to people and use what she learned from them to educate others.
“I would do an interview and think, oh my gosh, this is so cool, when else would I have the opportunity to talk to someone like this?” she said.
The experience prompted LeCocq to apply, successfully, for the position of editor in chief this academic year. She is considering pursuing health-related journalism as part of her career, something she said she wouldn’t have thought about prior to joining OMN.
Part of LeCocq’s editorial emphasis has been coverage of the greater Corvallis community in addition to campus happenings, which has been another reason outside donations have increased in importance.
Through their coverage, staffers have learned more about the world around them as well as contributing to that knowledge for their audiences, she said.
“We are the only ones who can get these types of stories,” she said. “This gives the next generation a platform to speak.”
CORVALLIS, Ore. - Gabe Reitzes wants “Mixed Signals,” the sketch comedy show he produces for Oregon State University’s KBVR-TV, to be a bag of Belly Flops.
Reitzes is a fan of the slightly squashed, imperfectly-shaped candies that the Jelly Belly jelly bean company dubs “Belly Flops.” That’s the philosophy he wants his show to embrace.
“It’s more fun, because they’re all weird and misshapen,” he said. “I want this to be the Belly Flops of TV. I want to lean into the imperfectness, or the mixed bags.”
“Mixed Signals” is the first sketch comedy show for KBVR-TV in at least six years. It’s available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/@KBVRTV/videos.
The show is one of three being produced for the 2022-23 academic year, alongside the "Locals Live" area concerts and various sporting events at Linn-Benton Community College, also available for viewing on YouTube.
Written and directed by volunteers, each episode of "Mixed Signals" is roughly 15 minutes of pure college-humor lunacy, spoofing commercials, talk shows, informational speakers and social situations.
Check out “Mr. Constantine,” for example, the children’s television show host who, with his puppet sidekick Mr. Peanut, cheerfully leads his young audience through a do-it-yourself exorcism. Or “Sword for Her,” the new product guaranteed to end harassment and get women listened to at meetings. “Men won’t be able to take their eyes off you,” the voiceover promises.
Reitzes is particularly looking forward to the Valentine’s Day skit that will air on Feb. 16, in which an already awkward moment goes horribly wrong.
“It’s meeting your partner’s parents, but their dad is Dracula and nobody addresses it,” he said.
Reitzes, a fifth-year New Media Communications major at OSU, had been thinking about the show for a while but only formally pitched it last spring. He plans four episodes each term, with the first four already available for viewing.
Although shows are edited, he wanted to do something with the feel of live TV and low-budget production: something that gave the feeling of performing with no safety net.
“I’ve always really been into comedy: standup, Monty Python, ‘Kids in the Hall,’” he said. “(I want) something where it’s safe to experiment. If you take a big swing and it doesn’t work, we have three other sketches anyway. That’s the brand.”
Alden Micklavzina, KBVR-TV’s station manager, had mixed feelings about the pitch at the beginning.
“My reaction was a lot of excitement, because we haven’t had much of that (comedy shows) in recent years,” he said.
That said, he also had concerns. Comedy is tough to do well and takes a lot of time and effort, something often in short supply for stressed students. Also, he wanted to make sure Reitzes’ vision for a loose-knit variety act still kept a “solid aesthetic,” a theme that didn’t shift too dramatically from show to show.
Micklavzina said he’s loved what he’s seen so far, however. The graphics between each skit, known as “bumps,” help keep the show together, and the humor - dry and surreal - carries through each episode.
He’s also impressed by Reitzes’ organizational abilities. Each show varies widely in terms of props, shooting locales, editing needs and volunteer times, but somehow, the biweekly show producer has managed to keep it all together.
For Reitzes, who hopes to make a career out of television production, getting the practice with such details now is critical. Personally, he said, he’s never been great with deadlines, but show production demands them - along with clear communication, organizing logistics and even writing professional emails.
“It’s Executive Function Boot Camp for me,” he said.
When the academic year ends, “Mixed Signals” may end, also. Reitzes will be graduating and it will be up to future television producers to pitch new shows.
In the meantime, he said, students who want to get involved can join weekly meetings at 2 p.m., in Student Experience Center 402 or contact him at [email protected].
“It feels really cool to be creating a space where people can express themselves and not necessarily feel like they have to fit themselves into someone else’s vision," he said.
“I want to really try and get as weird as we can.”