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Colorado Mesa University student-produced live debate broadcasted nationally by C-SPAN

Colorado Mesa University mass communication students produced a live debate between Colorado governor candidates Jared Polis and Walker Stapleton from the CMU Love Recital Hall on October 6, 2018. Rocky Mountain PBS aired the live broadcast, which shortly after C-SPAN aired nationally. This is the first time a CMU student crew has produced a nationally televised event. 

John Ferrugia, a nationally-known investigative reporter and Rocky Mountain PBS managing editor, was the debate moderator and complemented the CMU production team.

A live TV broadcast leaves little room for error and demands a very high level of skill and coordination. The student crew at CMU provided a professional level of talent and ability to deliver a seamless broadcast that brought important information to all Coloradans. In short, they did a great job!”

CMU Mass Communication Instructor Greg Mikolai advised the production crew the evening of the Colorado gubernatorial debate. Mikolai, a former Rocky Mountain PBS producer who is the recipient of two Emmy Awards, was proud of the work his students produced.

“I’ve said it before and will say it again,” said Mikolai. “My students will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any professional broadcast team in Colorado — they’re smart, they listen and the results always speak for themselves.”

Quaid Hamilton, a senior mass communication student and the evening’s technical director, said that in his mind there was never any doubt about the team’s ability to produce the event live. The same student crew has honed their live broadcast skills working with Mikolai to produce the Grand Junction Rockies baseball team home games at Stocker Stadium.

“Mr. Mikolai tells us if we can do live sports, we can do anything.”

Having the live broadcast produced by students came out of a conversation with CMU President Tim Foster, who expressed the benefits students would receive by being involved at every level of production of this event.

“President Foster and I discussed the need for students to be involved, so I called PBS and asked if we could put the professional crew on the shelf and hand the production to my class,” said Mikolai. “I think they are glad we did so, because we saved an awful lot of money and gave Colorado Mesa students the experience of a lifetime.”

“Greg and the students did a heck of a job,” said Foster. “From our teaching hotel to our aviation training and mass communication programming, CMU embodies a culture of hands-on, real-world learning that students won’t necessarily get at other universities.”