BVU Digital Media Major Seeks to Solve ‘Quiz Bowl’ Production Challenge

For the first time, Buena Vista University’s student-run television station, BVTV, is producing a longtime Northwest Iowa high school academic competition. Episodes will air on KCAU Channel 9 in Sioux City.

Despite being a sophomore, Mason McGrew has already produced and directed a TV series showing at 5 p.m. Saturdays on KCAU Channel 9 in Sioux City.

“Buena Vista University Quiz Bowl,” an Iowa Quiz Bowl League academic competition in a game-show style setting, features teams from 20 Iowa high schools and one from South Sioux City High School in Nebraska. The televised run of matches starts April 6 and lasts 15 weeks. For the first time, Buena Vista University’s student-run television station, BVTV, produced each episode. Chris Boeckman, popular sports director/morning announcer at KAYL-FM in Storm Lake, hosts each match. 

The show provides real-life work experience for nearly a dozen students enrolled in the BVU digital media major, including McGrew, BVTV operations manager.

“But the grade doesn’t matter to me as much as the experience for our crew, for me and for students in the digital media program.”

Mason McGrew

“I do a lot of the pre-production stuff. I created the intro, the scoreboard graphic, and helped pick out the design for panels,” McGrew says. “I worked with David Walker (BVU assistant professor of theatre) and others in building the set.”

Following his pre-production work, McGrew settles into his perch in the control room as director for the “Quiz Bowl” productions. During these shows, McGrew communicates frequently with the show’s technical director, calling out camera shots as the academic competition between high school teams plays out, all of it captured on video by 11 BVU students. Winning teams advance from week to week, leaving the lone team left standing at the culmination of the series as champion of the “Buena Vista University Quiz Bowl.” 

“I’ve very much enjoyed it,” says McGrew, of Ankeny. “This is what I came here to do.”

“The value of producing ‘Quiz Bowl’ gives students real hands-on opportunities with real outcomes,” says Jerry Johnson, assistant professor of digital media. “Productions and projects like ‘Quiz Bowl’ prepare our students for leadership roles that will make them marketable in the media. Mason is doing an excellent job in utilizing what he has learned in our program with his creativity and innovative curiosity to produce Quiz Bowl into a good story.”

McGrew’s involvement in broadcasting on BVTV also shows in a bi-weekly news program that covers campus events. A recent effort, shared with fellow digital media major Guy Tannenbaum, included a story on the abundance of snow covering Storm Lake and the early preparations for the October appearance by Apple Computer, Inc., Co-founder Steve Wozniak, the 23rd William W. Siebens American Heritage Lecture laureate. 

“Today, we captured the Beaver Olympics event,” McGrew says of an effort that paired 700-plus Storm Lake Middle School students with 55 BVU student volunteers at the Lamberti Recreation Center and Siebens Fieldhouse.

The endgame for McGrew? Not class credits or closing credits, necessarily. It’s the experience, primarily.

“I’m graded for my work on ‘Quiz Bowl’ since it’s part of my intraship,” he says, noting that it’s an internship done internally, or on campus. “But the grade doesn’t matter to me as much as the experience for our crew, for me and for students in the digital media program.”

He broke into this form of broadcasting in his freshman year when he teamed with friends to produce “BVTV Tonight,” a late-night talk show focused on the BVU community. McGrew took on roles of director, producer, creator, writer, and guest-booker to keep the shows going. His experiences at BVTV have prepared him for challenges and questions he’ll one day face in the workplace.

Challenges and questions he answers now, not as a “Quiz Bowl” contestant, but as the show’s director/producer.

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