It’s covering a story almost 135 years old, and coming to a television near you soon. Western Revealed, a new program about Western and its people, debuts next week on Rogers TV.
“The show tells stories about the kinds of quality people we have at Western, their personalities and the commitment they have to Western and the London community,” said Keith Marnoch, Media and Community Relations director.
Hosted by Marcia Steyaert, community relations specialist, the 30-minute program is broken into four segments, a newsmagazine-style setup which allows the subjects to be the stars of the show. Some segments will focus on the local community, and how Western’s people are connected to that. Other segments will feature more of a ‘wow’ factor, showcasing some of the research and innovation that goes on right next door to many viewers.
“It’s going to be a way for the community to get to know Western better than they have in the past,” Marnoch said of this first-ever television partnership for the university. “It is important for people to have a connection to us, for us to show off not just our buildings and grounds, but our people. This is an opportunity to tell the community stories about Western, and how we fit in the community.”
“It’s not just people talking about their work,” Steyaert echoed. “You may not go to Western, you may not have gone to Western, but we want to demonstrate Western is relevant to you and has an impact on the community in different ways.”
Western Revealed is starting off with a four-episode pilot season running through May. After that, if working well and well received, the show will return for another season in the fall.
“What’s nice is we have lots of flexibility. People don’t need to pitch a show to run eight years. It could be eight episodes. It’s not a commitment to be on the air forever; it’s whatever is needed to tell the story,” said Bob Smith, Rogers TV London station manager. “There are not a lot of shows like this out there, ones that allow you to tell extended, half-hour stories about your community. The shows we do are very London. And this is one of them.”
Last spring, Western approached Rogers, looking for a way to better connect with the London community. A late-winter air start date made the most sense for Rogers, and gave the university plenty of time to craft what they wanted out of the show.
Shot across campus (just look for the red Rogers truck, Marnoch joked), the show is reported by Western staff with technical resources provided by the Rogers team, who shoots and edits each show using state-of-the-art equipment from editing bays to HD cameras.
This isn’t the cable access frontier many grew up with, Smith assured.
“We hold ourselves to a high standard,” Smith said. “What we try to do is get people from the community, those who have a story to tell, to come to us and let us tell that story. About London. That’s our reason for being here – to reflect the city.”
Ryan Robinson is the show’s associate producer. The show’s introduction was designed and constructed by Steve Anderson, a Western Creative Services team member.
Rogers TV, a channel boasting 70 per cent user-driven content, already shows some programming from London’s postsecondary community. Western Journalism students produce London Under 30, a program that explores the contributions of young, dynamic Londoners, and Fanshawe College produces Fanshawe Learns and Fanshawe TV On Campus. But Western Revealed offers something the channel hasn’t seen yet.
“What this show does better than anything is connect London to its university. Most people, know about Mustangs football and not a whole lot else about what goes on at the university,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of neat stuff going on up on the hill that people don’t know about.
“Western Revealed takes the story of a major institution in the community, and humanizes it. Western is an integral part of this community, but in some ways, is misunderstood. This is a way of reaching out to the community.”
Western Revealed debuts on Rogers TV, channel 13, at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, and repeats throughout the month. Check listings for additional times.
ON THE AIR
Hosted by Marcia Steyaert, community relations specialist, Western Revealed debuts at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19. The 30-minute program is broken into four segments, including:
Porch Light Program. Learn about the Porch Light Program, which provides new international women students the opportunity to connect with women living in the London area.
Social behaviour of insects. Visit the lab of Western biologist Graham Thompson, who looks at the social behaviour of insects.
Community Legal Services. Learn about Community Legal Services, which provides free legal advice and representation to members of the community, and to Fanshawe College and Western students.
How children learn math. See how Daniel Ansari, Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, and his team are trying to figure out how a child learns to process numbers.