What started as a lament about not getting any broadcast experience in high school turned into a brand new adventure for broadcast journalists Kelsey Bigelow and Eric Johnson.
The two started the EM Network after a conversation this summer. They wanted to combine their love for the Exeter-Milligan Timberwolves and exposing students to the world of broadcasting.
“We put two and two together. Give students a platform to shine or if they wanted to learn broadcasting,” explained Johnson.
They approached Exeter-Milligan Superintendent Paul Sheffield and he was immediately on board. They also found support from local businesses and patrons to get their enterprise up and running for the fall sports season.
The EM Network called 48 games in the regular season this year for Exeter-Milligan, along with Exeter-Milligan/Friend football and also Fillmore Central/Exeter-Milligan/Friend softball. They traveled for away games and also covered home games.
Their product is all streamed online. They, of course, cover things live and then that is podcasted and came be listened to again. Currently all of the games they broadcast this year can be listened to online with the advertising included. “Sponsors help with costs incurred with running the website along with some travel and maintenance costs,” added Johnson.
Johnson is using his own equipment to produce the game calling and hopes to donate it to the school to enrich the broadcast experience for students. He has been involved in broadcasting for the last 16 years. A Fillmore Central graduate he attended Doane before finding a spot at SCC in Beatrice where he graduated with a degree in broadcasting.
Bigelow, an Exeter-Milligan 2018 graduate is currently in her final year of school in Kansas State with a major in Journalism. She has been instrumental in the social media side of the network. She has done individual interview of athletes and coaches and posted them on their facebook page and website.
Bigelow commented, “It has been amazing to see how much the community actually appreciates having the EM Network. In a way it brings more community together and allows family living far away to still be able to tune in and listen to the game. It's also been fun to talk to some of the athletes and not only give them exposure for their accomplishments, but also to remind people that just like we discuss with college athletes, high school athletes are also ‘student-athletes’ and have so much on their plate other than sports.”
And listen, they have. So far they have had nearly 4,000 individual listens with over 630 hours of total listen time since September 4. Next year they plan to have more coverage at MUDECAS tournaments along with Crossroads conference events.
They awarded their first EM Network MVP award this year and look to continue this tradition.
“From just a random thought everyone seems happy with it, so I’m happy,” concluded Johnson, “It fills a niche of giving back to the school and the community. I always wanted to do something. This shows an opportunity for students, another career path.”
The EM Network covered the CRC All-Star games this summer before preparing for a busy fall covering more games this year.They plan to start back up the fall covering more events looking to become bigger and brighter in their second year.