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It's got lights and the camera, and now Hampton U. is ready for action

Updated: December 17, 2012 - 12:20 pm

Posted: December 14, 2012

Jared Council

jared.council@insidebiz.com

Hampton University is ready.

At least that's what Brett Pulley, dean of the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications there, thinks now that his school has a studio capable of streaming live video to major television networks at a moment's notice.

"We can do it fast because anyone here on campus can be in that seat within seven or eight minutes and can be on the air within another five minutes," Pulley said, speaking about today's fast-paced 24/7 news environment.

"I think it puts us in a league of universities and other institutions that are capable of displaying the expertise that exists in-house," he said, "and displaying it to a national and international audience."

The ReadyCam studio features technology that can feed live HD video to interested TV stations, which Hampton University officials hope will lead to increased exposure for the university's experts and, consequently, the Hampton brand.

Nestled in the journalism and communications school, the studio is equipped with a seat, camera, lights and a large rear-room television with various backgrounds, including a university logo backdrop.

"We are excited about our partnership with Hampton University," said VideoLink President and CEO Rich Silton in a press release.

"We are confident our ReadyCam solution will give professors and staff at Hampton University convenient and reliable access to television networks around the globe."

VideoLink Inc., a Boston-area company, has been in the market some 20 years, officials said. Its nearly 200 clients include think tanks, hospitals, universities and other entities interested in getting their folks on national TV for commentary.

VideoLink had been offering these television network access points for years via satellite and fiber optic channels, but it began using the Internet to stream video about two years ago, spokeswoman Andrea Davis said.

The company has nearly 200 ReadyCams across the country, 31 at colleges and universities.

"We're seeing more and more signing on," Davis said about post-secondary institutions.

William R. Harvey, Hampton University's president, expressed interest in such technology in the fall of 2011, school officials said, and the studio went operational earlier this month.

"This is a first-rate HD facility, and there are not very many in the region," Pulley said.

Pulley said details about the ability for non-Hampton experts to use the studio are still being hashed out.

In addition to remotely controlling the studio before and during interviews, VideoLink also maintains an online database of experts with ReadyCam access for news producers and bookers.

This database, called VLGuru, is free for ReadyCam clients and TV networks, Davis wrote in an email, but "news networks pay for the camera time, as well as the transmission."

While TV stations may find Hampton University's professors through VLGuru, Pulley said he doesn't plan on waiting around.

He said he's for a proactive approach to selling Hampton's expertise, one that includes staying abreast of the news and calling the networks to offer commentary when applicable issues arise.

"We have at least a few people that have provided a lot of talking head commentary for stories," Pulley said, "so we want to be able to continue to do that so we can burnish our brand in that form."

Pulley, a former reporter who covered the media and entertainment for about 12 years, said in the past seven years, there's been a proliferation of talking heads on TV.

Part of the reason is the 24/7 news cycle, Pulley said, as TV stations seek the cheapest way to fill time, and experts and their institutions seek national and international exposure.

"Creating content for television can be very expensive," he said.

He later said, "Being on television provides an air of credibility, legitimacy. Whether it's true or not, the perception out there is that television legitimizes."

He added that for some experts, commentary can become a paying gig.

Pulley said ReadyCam allows the university to be a player in the quick and unpredictable market for TV commentary.

"It's not like producers are sitting around surveying the globe and the world of experts. No, they're moving quickly on stories."nib

Post-event coverage

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