Every media arts student completes an ambitious capstone project during their last year in our program. This year, senior David Schuyler chose to produce a new web series for his final project, an undertaking that is more impressive because it’s for a real client—the men’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). The show is titled Inside the WCHA and gives college hockey fans a deeper dive into the 10-team league by featuring news, highlights, analysis, coach and player interviews, and more. To help him with the project, David recruited senior Ryan Kastenschmidt (communication) as the series host and junior Andrew Jelken (business) as the series analyst. Junior Tyler Voigt (media arts) also helps by creating the show’s graphic elements.

Andrew (left) and Ryan (right) on episode 4 of the series.

The WCHA pitched this idea to BLC Studios because our students have produced live telecasts of Minnesota State men’s hockey for the past 16 years. “This show provides a unique and unparalleled opportunity for our upper-level students to produce and host a true highlight-and-analysis show,” said Greg Vandermause, Bethany’s production studio manager. Everyone involved has been thrilled to be working with the WCHA on this high-profile project.

“The best part of producing this show is when the finished product gets posted online. There is no better feeling then seeing an episode that you produced distributed on a professional website. Knowing that you put together a high-quality production is a very rewarding feeling.”
– Producer David Schuyler

But for host Ryan Kastenschmidt, the best part is simply getting to talk about the exciting world of college hockey with some really good friends. And for analyst Andrew Jelken, the best part is how much the WCHA appreciates the show. “It’s so rewarding when commissioner Robertson comes down to Mankato and lets us know that he likes what’s going on and has gotten positive feedback from the coaches as well,” he says. “It’s cool to have such immediate feedback on something that is new and exciting!”

Exciting it is, but easy it is not. Everyone on the production team agrees that the show’s ambitious timeline is its greatest challenge. The series requires them to keep up with all the relevant information and balance many different schedules as they coordinate interviews and put together the show’s content. “Each episode has to be planned, laid out, scheduled, shot, and edited in a matter of only three days,” explains David. “It’s no small feat, especially since we’re putting out 20+ minute episodes.” And because this is real client work, the show can’t be late. “I never realized how much work goes into a sports show with so little time,” added Tyler (graphics).

Graphics by Tyler Voigt.

By taking on a demanding project like this, the students involved are constantly learning. For David, that means honing his producing skills. “I have grown in just about every area of producing. There’s a lot of communication involved, particularly with the WCHA and with coaches/players from around the league. You have to be able to balance the schedules of everyone you work with. On top of that, this project requires strong organizational skills. The show’s segments are edited separately—keeping track of everything and making sure it gets put in the right place is essential.”

The project required Andrew to become an expert on the WCHA. “Taking on the analyst role means the audience is looking to me for my interpretation, so I have to know what’s going on,” he says. Tyler has also learned a lot more about the league and hockey statistics in addition to improving his Photoshop skills and becoming more familiar with the studio’s graphics machine. And hosting has improved Ryan’s communication skills: “I have become far more comfortable in front of the camera, and I am not so intimidated to talk to some big time college hockey coaches.”

The WCHA Commissioner has personally visited the production truck to talk with David, Ryan, and Andrew and thank them for their work in helping to promote the conference. “Seeing firsthand how excited the league has been about this show has been fun to watch,” says Greg Vandermause. “I look forward to the continued success of the series and seeing how it grows.”

The next step for this student team will be to promote their show and expand its audience. The team is also considering moving to weekly episode releases during spring semester. But David has even higher hopes. “I would love it if the show grew into a network program. Right now, its a web series featured on the WCHA website, Youtube, email, and social media. But it has the potential to be shown on television networks such as American Sports Network. There is absolutely no reason why Inside the WCHA can’t grow into a bigger network series.”

Take a look at the most recent episode (episode 4) of Inside the WCHA.

You can read more about the series, including comments from Commissioner Bill Robertson, and watch more episodes on the WCHA website. Great job, guys! This program is off to a great start, and we look forward to seeing the continued success of David’s capstone project!