Who Pulled The Plug on OWTV?


By Nathalie Ligonde & Melissa Monteleone

“There’s nothing happening over there,” said Banusa Sivanesathasan, a senior at SUNY Old Westbury and former reporter for Old Westbury Television (OWTV). The studio is inactive and students who wish to gain television experience are lacking a teacher.

This semester  Sivanesathasan has been using station equipment to shoot, however all of her work is solely for her portfolio and has not been aired on OWTV.

Prior to recent changes, OWTV produced at least eight shows a month. They have not uploaded any videos to their YouTube account since December of 2016. As for this semester, OWTV is no longer holding meetings.

Moses Nunez,  a senior at SUNY Old Westbury and former president of the OWTV club, shared his frustration: “That studio has so much potential to do great things, but it’s never utilized. It’s not fair. Old Westbury Web Radio (OWWR) has Manfredi, The Catalyst has Friedman. Who do we have?” His goal as president was to expand OWTV and incorporate television production with other departments at SUNY Old Westbury. According to Nunez, OWTV is not an official SGA club and due to its inactivity, the chances of being recognized on campus are limited.

The resignation of Station Manager Sherry Baker in September has a taken a toll on students and faculty. Baker’s former position as a teacher of TV programming and mentor to students has not been filled and there are no immediate plans to find a suitable replacement.

Instead, the IT department is overseeing the TV station. Information Technology Chief Information Officer Evan Kobolakis seemed  surprised when told that the TV club is no longer functioning but recognized that OWTV is not currently on the air.

He wrote in an email to The Catalyst, “We had an open search for Sherry’s replacement, the Media Services Manager. That position is now occupied by Alex Sartakov. We have not created a search for the TV Studio Manager since we are still trying to define roles and responsibilities.”

According to Kobolakis, Sartakov may not have the necessary experience: “His expertise lays on instructional technology, and lays on audio visual. Not necessarily video editing and not necessarily on the specific skills that you need in order to use the TV for educational purposes.”  Asked to comment, Sartakov did not reply.

“With no dedicated oversight, it’s really hard for the students to move forward,” said American Studies Assistant Professor Laura Chipley. “Studio A has outdated equipment and students lack training and necessary equipment to make full use of Studio B. It’s a shame.” Chipley noted  that professors are also lacking the support they need, and in turn have cancelled TV station visits with their classes. As for her upcoming plans, Chipley is teaming up with IT in hopes to “re-create the once vibrant student media culture.”

Samara Smith, American Studies assistant professor,  explained the importance of the TV station: “When the TV studio is active, it helps students to produce, work on meeting a deadline and to build their portfolio.” She added, “It’s not functioning at that level, students are not going to have professional experience to add on their resume.”

Senior T’Khari Fisher spoke of his experience at OWTV, “Back when I was an intern, Sherry Baker was there. She was very helpful.” Fisher questioned the school’s decision regarding staffing, “I don’t know why the school decided to put more people from the IT department in the TV station…instead of hiring a new Sherry Baker.”

Published on The Catalyst.