By Tara Mathews
HOWARD LAKE, WAVERLY, MN Howard Lake-Waverly High School offered the first television production vocational program in Minnesota back in 1971, with KRUD- and KRUM-TV, according to the class instructor, Neil Sideen.
Both programs were produced by a class provided by Wright Vocational Cooperative Center at HL-W High School.
The class was launched because Marilyn Eide, who was an English department staff member at the school, requested a video camera, according to Sideen.
When her request was approved, she went to Sideen for help operating the camera, knowing he worked for the channel 2 television station at the time.
Sideen then decided to get more cameras and start recording school athletic events.
Students received two credits for attending the entire two-hour class. There was also an option to attend less and receive partial credit.
The students covered athletic events, community celebrations, and parades.
They broadcast a daily news-cast, which was a live production that was viewed during the lunch hour at the school.
“One of my fondest memories is when we hooked an antenna up at the school,” Sideen recalled. “We hooked it up backwards, on purpose, so it would transmit instead of receive signal. People could watch our broadcast from 10 miles out.”
The students had three production camera operators, one graphics camera operator, and one interviewer at each event they covered.
“We started covering games because the gymnasium would fill up,” Sideen commented. “People could watch it from home, and we always gave them the best view of the game.”
News anchors tried to have names of students in each broadcast to develop a dedicated audience.
The news broadcasts included zany and dramatic interviews, student projects, and academic jokes, as well.
“I give all the credit to the students. They were in the front line making it all happen,” Sideen noted.
The class continued until 1982. Sideen is unsure why it didn’t continue beyond then.
Where are they now?
Many of the students who were involved in the class continued in television and radio production following graduation.
Phil Thiesse, who was a 1974 graduate and KRUD/KRUM student, is now a regional Emmy award-winning news photographer at KSTP.
Thiesse collected the old 1-inch reel-to-reel tapes from KRUD/KRUM broadcasts, converted them to digital format, and posted a compilation video on YouTube.
“Most of the recordings from those glory days were lost because the video tape deteriorated, but I was able to make some of the footage digital,” Thiesse said.
Steve LePage, who is also a former KRUD/KRUM student, was the sports director at WDIO TV in Duluth at one time.
Another former student, George Moll, is currently producing a show for ABC Family.
He has produced films for VH1, MTV, CMT, and ABC. His accomplishments include five Emmy nominations, a TV Guide award, a New York Film Festival award, an American Film and Video Association award, and many other awards.
“If there is one thing I could say to the new Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted broadcast club, I would say, ‘Be excited; there is an option out there to earn a living and be creative, and this is the start,’” Sideen stated.
Other students have also found themselves in the broadcast field or another type of media field, according to Sideen.
Follow the links to the YouTube videos at www.herald-journal.com.
Breaking new ground
A class that was started at Howard Lake-Waverly High School in 1971, gave students an opportunity to learn about and practice the steps involved in broadcasting.
Students who participated in the class during the early years included:
• Dale Decker
• John Gagnon
• Dennis Bobrowske
• Phil Thiesse
• Randy Breyer
• Steve LePage
• Denton Strosheiem
• Mike Olk
• Tim LePage
• George Moll
• Brian Engel
• Debbie Evenski
• Greg Birkholz
• Wayne Westphal
• Greg LePage
• Dean Hohag
• Kendell Kubasch
• Dennis Decker
• Ray Fern
• Steve Drusch
• Kevin Mahlstedt
• Brent Jones
• Rian Sporlein
• Greg Davidson