The Black Bear Broadcasting Network at Sterling High School began out of small town Sterling Kansas in 2006.
This sports mobile broadcast business was brought to life by American history, American government, economics, entrepreneurship, personal finance, and senior projects teacher Brian Richter.
Inspired by a mobile broadcast designer and long time radio person J. D. Hamm of Garden City, KS, Richter along with his first broadcasting class put together the foundation of the Black Bear Broadcasting Network or better known as 3BN.
Black Bear Broadcasting is something I, (Brian Richter) do on the side on a volunteer basis intrigued by providing broadcasts that people would enjoy watching from their home. Over the next three years 3BN used different platforms to stream their school activities with varying degrees of success.
We first frustrated with the streaming format we were using in 2012. That’s when I stumbled upon the streaming website High School Cube. Not only did The Cube provide a free platform but allowed for near flawless and simple ability to stream our school events.One of the more importatnt aspects was being able to embed different channels into our broadcating website, SHSBLACKBEARS.com
From Kindergarten programs, junior high football games, high school softball, to Veterans Day programs we have we have streamed well over 250 events over The Cube since the fall of 2012.
I must say, I have had tremendous administrative and tech support from Sterling Superintendent, Dr. Fred Dierksen, high school principal Dr. Bill Anderson, and one of our district technology coordinators Dean Mantz. From providing transportation, excellent equipment, and late evening text messages for help, we have developed a very efficient method through The Cube to stream our district’s events.
Since Sterling High School only consists of 175 students, most of the students that are interested in being involved in broadcasting are in the events that we are streaming. The events that we stream at SHS also modify the ways that we are able to broadcast them, what camera shots we use, and additional devices that could be used.
Last year our assistant volleyball coach was on maternity leave and still wanted to watch the team play, so I was able to send our Ipad and 4G wifi with the managers of the team and they streamed nearly every game on the road. All of our sporting events, do to lack of space are done on an Ipad with a wireless bluetooth headset and a computer or iphone to update the score and time. The longer we produce the streaming, the more I attempt to provide our viewers with more of a ‘broadcast quality’ stream. One of my colleagues and occasional color provider, Clark Comley shells out the suggestions on ways to make our broadcasts even better.
When streaming football we have used an input mixing board that provides our play by play, color person, and external mic to pick up crowd noise as the filming is being done in the press box where the crowd cannot be heard. We’ve also incorporated a sideline reporter using a wireless mic and an FM transmitter tuned to a walkman FM radio. In the past we have used a two camera setup with a wide view and a cut to a close up, much like you would see on T.V. This fall with an updated Wirecast 6 we will be able to consolidate instant replays, which viewers certainly seem to enjoy.
In 2014, along with the sports broadcasting class from our local Sterling College, we provide two simultaneous streams of The Sterling Invitationals boys and girls mid-season basketball tournament. The games are held on both the college campus and our own high school campus. My students broadcast from the high school and the college class gives their students a chance to broadcast from the college. The ability to stream through the tournament website sterlinginvitationl.com has allowed our tournment teams to be followed by those that cannont attend, as we have one school that is over 3 ½ hours away and one that is two hours away.
I personally own both shsblackbears.com and sterlinginvitiational.com so updating the websites can easily be done shortly before broadcasts begin and even during.
I have found over the years that I am able to do as much as my mind can conceive. Our last two graduations have provided a three camera setup. One wide shot, a shot from the side so people can see the graduate as they walk across the stage and receive their diploma, and this year an ipad view from a 20 foot home built unipod that was positioned behind the stage so people at home could see the faces of the graduates. I commented to others that people watching on their computers, or mobile devices would have a better viewing experience than those at graduation due to the many different camera shots.
At Sterling High School the Arts programs are extremely successful and one of the things that drives me to continue doing this is the fact that Alumni and more importantly, families from all over the country depend on our streams of concerts that they simply cannot attend. Being apt to go back and watch the archived performances is not only a tremendous service to these patrons, but also to our choir and band teachers who are able to show their students the performances as well.
Considering that we are only one in the three schools who broadcast from our Central Kansas League, one of the unintended consequences has been that followers from towns we compete against appreciate our broadcasts.
The network is truly a labor of love. One that I hope to involve more students in so they can take complete ownership of it, with me only as a supervisor. If the students take control there is no telling what they can accomplish, especially with the way technology is improving making it easier and easier to broadcast these events. The sky is truly the limit.
Brian Richter and Kylah Comley
Brian Richter recently finished his 26th year as a social science teacher at Sterling High School in Sterling, Kansas. During that time, he has taught American History, American Government, Psychology, Sociology, Economics, Foundations in Personal Finance by Dave Ramsey, and Entrepreneurship.. He has served as a staff teacher and consultant for the Kansas Council on Economic Education, and also serves as an Adjunct Professor at Sterling College in Sterling, Kansas. He was selected as the Kansas Economic Teacher of the Year in 2005. Brian graduated from Emporia State University in 1989 and earned his Master’s Degree in Teaching Social Sciences from ESU in 1995. He is following his father’s footsteps; Don Richter of Syracuse who was elected to the Kansas Teacher Hall of Fame class of 1995. He is a master facilitator for the Ewing Kauffman Foundation endorsed, Ice House Entrepreneurship Program. He facilitates Who Owns the Ice House courses throughout Central Kansas for NetWork Kansas and their local E Communities.
Richter recently 'retired' from 20 years of coaching football at Sterling High School to develop the Kansas Ice House. In addition to teaching Richter owns a business, Old School You (www.oldschoolyou.com). Old School You provides old game film from yesteryear for sale on DVD. Home movie and video transfer to DVD are also services provided. In 2010 Old School You was the feature of Hatteberg's People on KAKE TV Channel 10 in Wichita, KS. Richter recently helped his son start his own window cleaning business,Those Window Guys, serving businesses in Sterling. This past spring he and two other teachers from Sterling High School started a small business called Precision Engraving & Awards LLC in Sterling.
Kylah Comley will be a senior at Sterling High School, Sterling, KS. Kylah invests much of her time in sports such as basketball, softball and volleyball. She recently found a new passion where she excels in writing for sterlingstudentpublications.com For the upcoming school year she will be the editor of Sterling Student Publications. She plans on pursuiing a career in print and broadcast journalism.