Reflections on a new season

By Connor Ciecko

The first show of season five was a fresh start for me and, in some way, a do-over from the last first show I had.

The first show that I ever produced for Good Morning Illini was full of technical errors and a minor “my interview guest cancelled on me five minutes before the show” error. We dealt with those issues and still managed to get all of our content out on air, but the original vision for the show was out the window and my stress was palpable.

Season 5, episode 1 was hugely different. In the weeks that we spent preparing for the first show this semester, we built up a surplus of content and I was confident going into the show that we had everything we needed. And the show was everything that I hoped it could be. We still had a couple of technical mishaps, but overall it was smooth sailing for our 30-minute run. For the first show of the semester and the season opener, I couldn’t have asked for more. Anchors and reporters were ready and rolled with the punches, studio crew picked up their new positions quickly, and everything combined to make a great mix of informative and fun, and while our format was a little different we still managed to capture the spirit of what I believe this show is.

Since I produced in the spring, I wasn’t entering the ring completely blind, and I think that helped me. I’d previously had an opportunity to learn what worked and what didn’t, and I had a better idea of what things need to get done before the day of the show to ensure that everything runs the way it is expected to. We came into the studio Friday morning with very little we needed to finish up. The only thing on the agenda was to add some fancy graphics to the weather and get everything loaded into the computer. From there, we had a rehearsal with the anchors and studio crew AND we were able to run that rehearsal for longer than we usually do because everything was ready to go.

Coming out of the show though, there were a couple things that I found I could still improve on. After all, every show is a learning opportunity and there’s always something new to take away. Going forward, I need to double check that everything that makes it into show is the version that got approved for show. There were a couple stories that ran in an incomplete state because I grabbed the wrong version of them and didn’t confirm it was the one file I expected it to be. But everything that happens is a chance to grow, so I don’t really consider them mistakes.

I personally believe that being able to fall is the best way to learn, and when that happens, we have a whole team of people there to catch us and pick us back up. And, once you’re back up, you can look at what happened and move forward stronger. Especially for a first show, I feel that possibility of a fall is incredibly helpful. You get the chance to learn what your own strengths and weaknesses are and can use those to your merit in the future. After all, if we had someone over our shoulder checking every single move we made we wouldn’t really be producing this show, and we wouldn’t have the same opportunity to learn WHY some of those decisions don’t work.

I learned from the second show, too, even though I wasn’t mainly in charge of it. Communication is crucially important and without that we run the risk of running at less-than-peak efficiency. We needed a graphic to get made and I asked someone to do that, and it did get done. My fault was not following up or providing the instruction we needed for that graphic to make it into the show. We also had a similar issue to my show, where a different version of a story ended up playing rather than what was expected. Every episode is a new opportunity to learn something else and to reinforce what was learned previously.

As the executive producer, I feel that it is ultimately my responsibility to ensure that things run smoothly and that anything the other producers miss gets included. And, so, when something does get missed I should take responsibility for that because I didn’t catch it. I’m often hard on myself because that’s how I encourage development. The biggest thing that I’ve learned over the past weeks is that I need to stay vigilant, especially since I have experience to share.

Of course, I can’t say I’m any expert at this. I’ve been at it for a semester and change, and part of that was spent producing a show that aired only online. But that diversity of experience is what I can bring to my shows and my fellow producers’ shows. We’ve started this semester strong and I think that we can only go up from here, especially as our team continues to grow together and evolve as the semester goes on. We have an incredibly passionate crew, a great advisor, and so many people with different experiences and perspectives that can help us.

I’m looking forward to a great semester. Make it a good morning, Illini.