Students produce local TV series

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Students in the television broadcasting program at Conestoga College are being given a unique opportunity to develop practical skills by writing and producing a weekly 30-minute television show about fun activities and people in Waterloo Region.

The show, titled Conestoga Connected, is now in its fourth year of production.
It began as an exclusively online segment before being adopted by Rogers Television and broadcast to the tri-cties region, as well as in Guelph and Stratford.

Students record one episode weekly for an eight week duration, which is aired multiple times throughout the week on the local Rogers station.

Speaking to how this development was initiated, executive producer and instructor Rachelle Cooper explained, “Last year Rogers sort of approached my colleague and said they were looking for some content and they knew our students did good work, so they started airing it last season.”
“It’s growing,” she continued. “It’s getting better and stronger.”

Mike Zakrzewski is in his second year in Conestoga’s television broadcasting program and is the host, of the show.

“I think that I was lucky to be put in the position of host because it did sort of cater to my previous skills,” he acknowledged.

“Thinking on my feet has always been something I’ve been fairly good at, and I think Conestoga Connected has given me even more of an opportunity to show off those skills.”

Zakrzewski, who has also completed a program at Conestoga in broadcast journalism, continued, “It’s allowed me to utilize my skills from journalism and from television and sort of come together to make areally perfect opportunity for me.”

The show is put together by a team of 36 students each week who work in teams on various components, from writing scripts to editing video.
Numbers of students working on the show has fluctuated each year, as it is dependent on the area of specialization they choose for their final semester at Conestoga.

Last year, it operated with only six students involved.
Although it is challenging work at times, Cooper maintained, “They have passion for it and it looks great on their portfolio, so it’s worth it.”

Conestoga Connected is directed at the 18 to 25 year-old demographic and provides a unique perspective on the variety and depth of things to do in the region.

“I think it’s really great for the community and I don’t think that there are a lot of shows that do this, because we’re profiling all local businesses and activities,” said Cooper.

She added, “We’re actually going out into the field, so you get to see the things for yourself, which I think helps a lot.”

Students host segments such as “Get Out There,” which profiles local business and activities, sports section “Overtime, and “Spotlight,” in which Zakrzewski hosts in-studio guests.

Although hosting places Zakrzewski in a prominent position at Conestoga Connected, he asserted that its creation was dependent on the team work of all involved.

“I feel incredibly lucky to be working with such talented people and it’s not something I’m ever going to take for granted,” Zakrzewski concluded.
“I’m going to look back on my times at Conestoga Connected and think of them as some of the happiest times of my life.”
Episodes can be viewed online at http://www.somad.ca/conestogaConnected/.

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