Northern Michigan University students and staff played a major role in producing the FOX Sports Detroit coverage of two 8-player men’s football state championships played Saturday, Nov. 18, at the Superior Dome. The live-to-tape games will be regionally broadcast Tuesday, Nov. 21.
NMU’s reputation with FOX Sports Detroit was solidified through its assistance with Western Collegiate Hockey Association game broadcasts. Typically, FOX Sports Detroit crew members fill most positions. For the football coverage, NMU staff and students took on all responsibilities except truck technician, producer and graphics coordinator.
“This hasn’t happened during the 17 years I’ve been here, where we were responsible for 95 percent of all crew positions,” said Michael Lakenen, producer/director for sports and video at WNMU-TV. “Usually we are filling in the last 20 percent. It was new for everyone. My colleagues and I hire, train and choose the students for productions like this. Most of the students have been working for us for a couple of years and it is over that time that we can train them in a professional environment. It is a big reason why they are able to get this kind of opportunity, and are ready for this kind of opportunity.”
In addition to Lakenen’s directorial role during the football games, NMU staff positions included a technical director, audio one and audio two. There were 12 student positions. Their roles included camera operators, replay, stats, timeout coordinator, stage manager and a utility person.
NMU student Samantha Carter served as the instant replay operator. She said she had an opportunity to work with top-of-the-line equipment and learned how a professional production truck coordinates an event.
"Being in such close proximity to other media professionals allowed me to see what working in this field after I graduate will be like," Carter said. "My experience learning to run replay for NMU home hockey games, and using similar software as FOX had in its production truck, more than prepared me to meet and exceed the needs and expectations of professionals. I'm glad that WNMU-TV and the NMU hockey production crew has given me the opportunities, skills and experience I need to be prepared in this career field."
NMU student Rachel Fromwiller operated the first camera that encompasses the entire field.
“Other cameras captured individual plays or calls, but I had the responsibility of keeping every aspect of the play in frame so everyone at home could see everything at all times,” said Fromwiller. “I have also operated cameras for TV 6 and Local 3 news, as well as hockey, basketball, soccer and volleyball games for NMU. These opportunities, as well as working as a runner for Hockeyville, prepared me for this, and I’m thankful for all of the opportunities presented to me thus far in my academic career.”
The 8-player state football championships featured Central Lake against Deckerville in Division I and Forest Park against Portland St. Patrick in Division II. The games are scheduled to air at 8 and 11 p.m., respectively, Tuesday night.