In the fall of 1986, Mississippi State University began assembling a team to form a centralized television center to promote “The People’s University.” And so it was born, the Mississippi State University Television Center. The new undertaking brought together four different video units from the university.
The original group included Ralph Olivieri from University Relations, Bennie Ashford and Scott Lewis from Veterinary Medicine, Andy Sims and David Hutto from the MS Cooperative Extension Service and Dr. Hank Flick from the Communication Department. All had worked to together doing the MSU Coaches’ TV shows for years.
The need for space and the desire to build one terrific MSU media team landed the TV Center at the Louis M. Wise Center, home of MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The original staff members were charged with designing a television center starting first with an existing TV studio/control room located within in the Vet School.
A year and a half after being in the Wise Center, in 1988, the TV Center became a full fledged MSU unit and named David Hutto as its first permanent director.
In 1989 MSU purchased a satellite uplink truck, which was even uncommon for commercial TV stations at that time. MSU’s truck allowed the TV Center to “go on the road” and it has traveled across the country working with every major TV news outlet. It has covered Mississippi gubernatorial debates & inaugurations, U. S. Presidential & White House video conferences, and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. The truck also help to produce children’s programming about Antarctica, the Amazon Rain Forest and from the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena California during the Mars ROVER landing just to name a few.
In 1990, the TV Center got another boost when its broadcasting capabilities expanded from campus to the local Starkville cable TV channel known as MSTV 30. In the beginning, programming was a 90-minute videotape full of anything MSU related that ran 24/7.
Later, with the new cable channel, came a new lineup to include more faculty and student programs. MSTV now airs special MSU programming featuring guest speakers, department functions, alumni & ag videos and even popular old movies!
During the early years, the TV Center staff worked diligently towards the goal of producing award- winning productions. In 1990, the TV Center won its first Gold awards from the Mississippi Association of Broadcasters in the faculty and student TV divisions. The winning standard continues today. For 20 plus years, the TV Center has won numerous Addys, more Mississippi Association of Broadcaster Awards, Communicator Awards as well as a film festival award.
However, the success of the Television Center lies in its people. Every year, UTC staff and student workers all work together to produce excellent broadcast productions. At present, twelve full-time staff members are assigned to work at the Television Center. This includes producers, directors, engineers, and graphics personnel. In 1995, chief engineer Mike Godwin joined the team and in 2006 was named permanent director.
Students have played an integral role at the TV Center since its inception and some have gone on to have jobs with CNN, the Weather Channel and local/regional TV stations. The hands-on experience they received working on shows like Take 30, This Week@MSState, Stateline, State Update, MSU Tonight and the Bark are just a few examples of student programming that helped them be successful. Some have even won a television regional EMMY for their work! In 1995 there were approximately 50 students in the Communication Department majoring in Broadcasting. Today, roughly 200 students go through the program every year.
For over 20 years the TV Center has recorded programs such as Farmweek, MSU Coaches’ Shows, and every MSU Graduation. The Athletic Department is a major client of the TV Center involving even more videos throughout the school year. The Television Center also crews the athletic video “Jumbotron” display screens for football, basketball and baseball.
In 2008, the Television Center recognized a need to upgrade its equipment to digital. It applied for and received a grant enabling it to completely renovate its video & control room systems to a full HD studio for pre and post-production.
Now into a new century, the Television Center at Mississippi State University continues to communicate history for the university and the state.
Article written by Erika Celeste.