A Southeastern Channel live football game broadcast for ESPN-Plus and its play-by-play announcing by a student broadcaster have both been honored as third best in the nation by the Broadcast Education Association (BEA) at its annual Festival of Media Arts.
The channel’s live broadcast of the Oct. 12, 2019 Southeastern vs. Incarnate Word football game was honored with a third place 2020 “Award of Excellence” for “TV Sports Event Production,” while student John Sartori of Mandeville also won third place in the nation in the category “Radio/TV Sports Event: Play-By-Play.”
It was the third year in a row that the Southeastern Channel has been honored by the BEA as one of the top four in the country for its live game broadcasts. The channel won a fourth place “Award of Excellence” in 2018 for a Lions vs. Southern of New Orleans basketball broadcast and again won fourth place in 2019 for the Southeastern-Abilene Christian football game.
This year there were over 1,750 entries in the competition from universities across the country.
“To have a live game broadcast named third best in the nation against all of the top schools from across the country is truly an accomplishment and a wonderful honor,” said Southeastern Channel General Manager Rick Settoon. “What makes it even more special is that our winning broadcast was the only football broadcast in the competition, the most difficult type of game to produce, and also the only one with an entirely student crew- from announcers to director and camera operators. I couldn’t be more proud of our students.”
BEA judges, who are professionals in the field, said of the broadcast, “Overall, a good job for a football telecast with so many players and so much going on compared to other sports productions they’re going up against.”
The game broadcast was produced and directed by Dylan Domangue of Houma.
“Having our broadcast rank at the top nationally is a special feeling because I believe that a football game is the most challenging to broadcast,” Domangue said. “There are so many elements and so much advanced camera work that is involved, and it is difficult to pull it off successfully. To be the only school to win a national award for a football broadcast means a lot because it means that we are producing the hardest sport at the highest level.”
Of Domangue’s directing efforts the BEA judges added, “The broadcast showed great production value and professionalism. Impressed with the camera work and directing. The director did a great job of planning. It was shot according to game action sequencing with the camera operators following the action nicely. Good cutting between the wide and tight shots, and they rarely went to bad camera shots.”
The winning game broadcast featured Sartori on play-by-play and Richie Solares of New Orleans as the color analyst. Gabby Cox of Hammond was the sideline reporter.
Judges said, “The announcers were on point with matching their words to what you saw on the screen without saying the obvious. Very well done. Fantastic job of setting up storylines early in the broadcast and continuing them throughout the coverage, specifically the ‘elimination game’ feel and importance of this game to both teams.”
One judge said, “I enjoyed John and Richie in the booth. They shared interesting information and obviously have a deep understanding of football. They kept the ‘no talking’ gaps to a respectable level, and I loved how they handled the targeting reviews. They explained the rule, applied it to the specific play on the field, and gave a clear option of how they expected the officials to rule (and were correct a large majority of the time).”
Other student crew members included Jermaine Kelly of Shreveport on instant replay, Lily Gayle of Greensburg on video playback, Tyler Thomas of Bogalusa on graphics, and Ross Chauvin of Houma and Angela Imbraguglio of Destrehan on audio.
Carson Fryou of Ponchatoula and Lauryn Jackson of Baton Rouge served as production assistants, while Richie Cruz of New Orleans and Logan Graffia of Slidell were the camera grips. Camera operators were John Williams of Denham Springs, Taylor Tabb of Destrehan, Jeremy Gaines of New Orleans and Tyler Guidroz of Ponchatoula.
In addition to the game broadcasting team award, Sartori was honored for his play-by-play announcing.
Of Sartori’s game call, BEA judges said, “Very good conversational tone. Nice, smooth flow. Everything sounded very natural. Provided good information to help the viewer follow the action. Good use of in-game statistics. Describes game trends well. Nice detail, described well such as, ‘he missed, and he missed high.’”
Sartori has been the play-by-play announcer for Southeastern Channel game broadcasts of all sports since his freshman year.
“I think telling a story is very important with play-by-play,” Sartori said. “I really tried to emphasize the storyline while also allowing the game to tell the story. Let the sounds of the game work for you, and try not to speak over the sounds of the game.”
“I try to be as entertaining as possible,” he continued. “I want to make the broadcast an experience the viewer enjoys. I try to keep it light-hearted but exciting at the same time. I want to be the kind of play-by-play announcer I enjoy watching and that’s one full of high energy.”
The Incarnate Word broadcast was the third game broadcast produced by the Southeastern Channel in 2019 for ESPN-Plus. Its first game broadcast which matched Southeastern against sixth-ranked Jacksonville State in the season opener drew 23,000 different viewers on ESPN-Plus.
Settoon said that it is a rarity for an all-student crew, including announcers, to broadcast Division One collegiate sports contests and gain approval by ESPN for streaming on ESPN-Plus.
“ESPN told us that the quality of our game broadcasts was the best they’ve seen in the entire country for an entirely student production,” Settoon said. “They said we easily live up to the professional quality standards and specifications required by ESPN, the worldwide leader in sports.”
“ESPN is the gold standard for every kid who loves sports and wants to have a career associated with it,” Domangue said. “The fact that I got to work for ESPN while still being a student in college is just truly an amazing experience, because that was a dream that each of us on the crew had growing up. ESPN does not stoop down to anyone’s level, but instead make you rise up to their standards. ESPN recognized the high quality of our production and trusted us to be on ESPN+. That speaks highly of us.”
“Other schools have professionals filling at least some of the positions,” Domangue continued. “That makes it an even greater honor for us to win the top national awards for our productions. The best way to train, learn, and get better is to do those tasks and not just watch others do them. At the Southeastern Channel, we get the opportunity to do that, which makes us even better and more valuable over time.”
Settoon said that in addition to live game broadcasts of all Southeastern sports, students can work on Southeastern Channel sports productions like the live weekly sportscast, “The Big Game,” modeled after ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and recognized as best in the nation by College Broadcasters, Inc. In addition, students host and produce a bi-weekly coach’s talk show, “Lion Tracks,” which includes coaches from all Southeastern sports. They also produce sports documentaries, promotional spots and programs, and game hype videos for social media.
“We offer students opportunities in television sports broadcasting like no other university,” Settoon said. “We’re attracting students in sports broadcasting from throughout the state and South, and we have a brand new academic degree program in sports broadcasting that is the only one of its kind in the southern region between Texas and Florida.”
The program is a new concentration in Sports Communication in the Communication bachelor’s degree program housed in the Department of Communication and Media Studies, including courses for both live Southeastern game broadcasts for ESPN and for the “Big Game” live weekly sportscast. Settoon said that former Southeastern Channel sportscasters have landed jobs at sports networks and large TV markets from San Francisco to Myrtle Beach, S.C., as play-by-play announcers, color analysts, sideline reporters and sports directors, anchors and reporters for television stations.
“The Southeastern Channel is the ultimate place to grow as a collegiate broadcaster,” Sartori said. “Being able to do play-by-play for Division One sports alone is something that only a few schools offer, but to have the ability to do football on ESPN is something that almost no student can have the opportunity to do. It allows for so much feedback, both positive and negative, and allows you to grow as a broadcaster in ways that not many other schools, especially in this region, can provide.”
In its 18 years of existence, the Southeastern Channel has won over 400 national, international and regional awards, including 20 awards from the Emmys. The Southeastern Channel can be seen on Spectrum Cable 199 in Tangipahoa, Livingston, St. Tammany and St. Helena parishes and on mthermonwebtv.com for viewers in Washington Parish. In addition, the live 24-7 broadcast can be seen on Roku, Apple TV and the channel’s website at thesoutheasternchannel.com, which also offers programs via video on demand. The Southeastern Channel is also available on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.