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Behind the scenes of FSCTV

Coming to You Almost Live from FSCTV

May 2, 2023

What do you get when you put college students in a room full of high-tech equipment and let them call the shots?

If it happens in the Chatlos Communications Building at Florida Southern College, you get FSCTV, the College’s broadcast journalism channel. The on-campus television studio is completely student run, posting three unique student-produced shows on YouTube each week.

News, Sports, and Comedy

FSCTV photo 1
The on-campus production studio inside of the Chatlos Communications Building

Students who write and produce The Weekly Report, The Snakebite, and The Cado Show are proud of their work and try to make the shows look as polished as possible. A “live to tape” filming method is used to create the feeling of live shows when they are shared.

“Whether you're an athlete, an average student looking for campus information, or a person on or off campus looking for some jokes that'll make you smile, we have something for you,” media strategies and production major and esports management minor Micah Liss ’26 said.

The FSCTV studio, that is always kept between 66- and 68-degrees Fahrenheit to protect the equipment, is where experiential engaged learning is not optional. The shows that air on the FSCTV YouTube channel feature communications students in front of the camera. However, there is much more that goes on behind the scenes. A team of students do whatever it takes to make the shows happen.

Anyone trying to catch up on pop culture and serious news events can tune in for The Weekly Report. The news show is posted every Tuesday morning during the academic year. Media strategies and production major Kaelyn Benoit ’26 and Liss currently co-produce and edit The Weekly Report. The show’s anchors rotate on a weekly basis, though all anchors contribute to the script and non-anchors can also contribute. Lawton Bauer ’23 who is a political science and multimedia journalism major minoring in philosophy, sports communications and marketing and multimedia journalism major Nicholas Merritt ’24, and communications major Katie Jamer ’26 are the show’s directors.

FSC sports fans can find out how their favorite Mocs teams did each Wednesday by checking out The Snakebite, the longest running show on FSCTV, which partners with the athletic department for show content. Current show co-anchors John Christovich ’23, who is double majoring in sports communications and marketing, and James Simpson ’25, who is majoring in advertising and public relations with a minor in marketing, re-cap FSC athletics results, share highlights from games, and discuss upcoming events. Christovich and Simpson write, produce, and edit The Snakebite, while sports communications and marketing and multimedia journalism double major Bryan Perera ’24, Bauer, and Merritt direct the show.

If laughter is truly the best medicine, The Cado Show might provide the comedy cure. The show started in the spring of 2015. Associate Professor William Allen, Ph.D., created the branding for the show and asked sports communications and marketing major Wil Fisackerly ’18, who is currently a third-year Ph.D. student in sport and entertainment management at the College of Hospitality, Retail, and Sport Management at the University of South Carolina, to produce it. Fisackerly was given full creative control.

The Cado Show History

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Filming of The Cado Show

The Cado Show predates FSCTV and was originally posted on Facebook exclusively. W James ’19 and Peter Edgar ’20 helped run it weekly.

“There was no set motive behind the direction we went,” Fisackerly said. “The branding was just cool and chic. I think it was supposed to symbolize fresh living, but we took the branding to mean living life in a zany, fun way.”

Fisackerly spent the first two seasons in the spring and fall of 2015 experimenting with the brand and figuring out what he wanted to do. He moved behind the camera to focus solely on production and modeled the show after Good Mythical Morning, an American comedy, talk, and variety YouTube series created by Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal.

In spring 2016, which was The Cado Show’s third season, Fisackerly tapped Zach Smith ‘18 and Melanie Thompson ‘18 to be the hosts of the show and ran weekly episodes every semester until his graduation in May 2018. In total Fisackerly oversaw the first seven seasons of the show. FSCTV did not exist at that time, and The Cado Show was the only show putting out regular content.

“Producing the show was one of the best experiences I had while at FSC,” Fisackerly said. “Dr. Katherine Loh let us film episodes on fine dining with Nineteen61 and even her chicken farm. We did game shows with Student Government Association (SGA) presidents, Southern Takeover artists, and got to collaborate with numerous campus members.”

The current iteration of The Cado Show would not exist without the foundation Fisackerly and his classmates laid.

“The show holds a special place in my heart, and it’s heartwarming to see it take a new life with the next generation of communicators,” Fisackerly said. “I think the new format and students behind it captures that Cado Show energy. It may not be the same content, but the show was always about reinventing the audience experience and standing out from the pack. What they’re doing now exemplifies that. I really hope that I can meet the students behind-the-scenes of the new show and see how they’ve taken a small idea and made it something impactful.”

The contemporary version of The Cado Show is filmed in front of a live audience and showcases the talent of Florida Southern students who stop by the FSCTV studio to do improv, play games, or just have fun as members of the audience. Members of Studio Box, FSC’s premiere on-campus improvisation comedy group, are frequent guests on the show. Simpson performs multiple jobs as the show’s writer, host, producer, and editor. Merritt and Perera are directors for the show.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Students working behind the scenes during a taping of The Cado Show

In a studio full of state-of-the-art equipment, technical difficulties occur. When they do, dedicated crew members swing into action. They, along with their faculty advisor Professor David Sparling, maintain and repair the equipment in the studio.

When new students join the crew, they are trained to do a variety of jobs, allowing them to find the right fit for them. Once they identify their niche, a veteran crew member trains them. FSCTV seniors draw from the experience they gain over the years to train their replacements. Members of the crew are always willing to step up when they are needed.

“Being willing to go the extra mile and put in the work really opened the doors when it came to getting involved.” Benoit said.

Much of what happens in the FSCTV studio is organic. The crew never knows who will be in the audience during The Cado Show taping, or how large the audience will be. Most of the show is unscripted. The audience throws out suggestions during the taping of improv segments, and it is a safe space to make mistakes because crew members always support anyone who appears on the show.

A perfect example of the crew going with the flow is that faux commercials were added to The Cado Show to give less experienced hosts a break during filming. During the fake commercials, students improv sales pitches for random items they find on set to give the host a break from speaking. The faux-mercials went over so well when they were introduced, they became a regular part of the show.

Behind the Scenes

FSCTV photo 2

Bauer is the FSCTV co-president and technical director. He is always in the control booth on Mondays for the taping of The Weekly Report. Perera is in the control booth to tape The Cado Show on Fridays. Whichever of the two is available on Wednesdays handles The Snakebite taping.

Bauer describes the control room as the heart and soul of production for FSCTV.

“We tend to separate the producers and the directors,” Bauer said. “Producers handled the creative. We, the directors, handled the tech.”

Merritt works as floor manager and camera person. His dedication, along with that of the other crew members, is what makes the student-produced shows happen.

“All of us tend to work together and help each other out when needed,” Merritt said. “We give feedback after each show. We put together all our strengths and build off of it.”

Communication is Key

The communications department at FSC prepares students to be successful in a variety of careers. Some of them want to work in front of the camera, some behind the scenes. Some may find employment working on the equipment required to produce show content.

“My research focus is on collegiate esports, particularly the future governance and systems that will be needed to support it,” Fisackerly said in regard to his Ph.D. research. “Though I’m working on my Ph.D. in an unrelated field, I still use my experiences as a communication student every day. The relationships I made with students and faculty (at FSC) have directly impacted every decision I’ve made in my career, and I honestly believe I would not have had the success I’ve experienced without my time at Florida Southern.”

After earning her degree in broadcast communications, Meghan Bragg ’12 is enjoying a successful career as a reporter at WCNC in Charlotte, N.C.

“FSC taught me how to prepare for all aspects of a newscast and helped me get my foot in the door with amazing internships,” Bragg said. “My advice for students is it's okay to start small. Starting in a smaller market will actually get you more experience. Going to a smaller market will give you better opportunities to anchor and report on special stories. You also get more grace if you mess up, and trust me, you will mess up. In this field, you get to meet some incredible people while also keeping people informed.”