By Jim Misunas
Scott Mitchum, Central Plains USD 112 technology director, has brought school-district events to a world-wide audience.
Mitchum has helped take Central Plains into the technology future by airing school-related events the past three years on the Internet. Sports events and band and vocal music productions are also aired. Home and road sports events have been regularly aired.Central Plains’ recent basketball substate games at Sterling High and Sterling College were available online through livestream.com/usd112. The web link was also available through the Central Plains’ web site usd112.org.
Mitchum said the school district and Steve Woolf, superintendent, have supported the district’s technology. Mitchum uses a Mac computer and Sony camera that delivers a high quality image.
“Our superintendent Steve Woolf has been totally behind it and the school board has been very supportive,” he said. “They’ve seen the vision of technology.”
Mitchum said he’s been personally thanked by dozens of people and relatives across the country have seen the Internet feeds of Central Plains events.
“There are a bunch of grandparents, brothers and sisters in different states that we’ve heard from,” Mitchum said. “They tell us how much they appreciate staying in touch with local events. What we do is important to a lot of people. Some of the relatives never miss a game. When you hear a ‘Thank You,’ that keeps you going.”
The technology allows viewers to see the event on computers, iPads or phones. Central Plains is hard-wired to the Internet in Claflin. Mitchum transports a portable wifi bridge device that allows transmission from road sites if the proper technology is not available.
“The better Internet bandwidth you have, the better your quality will be,” he said.
Mitchum has toured all of the Central Prairie League schools, so he knows what to expect in terms of his Internat capacity and capability. He sends the Internet address that week to the school Central Plains is playing.
His biggest audience was nearly 500 logged into a Class 2A state basketball tournament broadcast last year at Manhattan.
Mitchum uses a Wowza software program. Wowza is a streaming media server software company. The district invests several thousand dollars annually into technology, but Mitchum said the cost will be lower next year when the district partners with play on sports.
During the middle school basketball tournament, Mitchum had middle school students assist with the announcing after some quick training. Heather Williams, from KWCH, profiled the students in a video that was aired.
His favorite part of broadcasting is allowing local fans to be viewed on the Internet by relatives.
“We like to keep it fun and low key,” he said. “We’ll let someone wave to a relative. We’ll let the grandparents see their grandchild.”
At St. John, a request was honored to show the candidates, who had relatives watching. At Macksville, the students prepared special signs for Becky Filbert, the Macksville school nurse.
Another time, Central Plains student Bryce Steiner played during the Oilers’ final home game Feb. 15. Steiner is being treated for B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“That was a special moment when the whole place was on their feet cheering,” Mitchum said. “Those are the kind of moments you remember.”