High school AV Club’s morning show evolves into live news show

The origin and success of Wareham Viking News
Jan 13, 2021

When AV Club members at Wareham High School learned they would be unable to film their weekly show in their school studio due to pandemic restrictions, it’s unlikely anyone expected the students would turn their online-only Morning Show into a live television news broadcast. 

But that’s exactly what they did. 

The students, along with the help of club adviser and Wareham Community Television Education Coordinator and Assistant Director Christian Fernandes, created Wareham Viking News, a live weekly show focused on a variety of local news.

The AV Club, at nine members strong, is now also a news team. 

By 4:30 p.m. on a typical Wednesday, the students are busy with warmups in the WCTV studio. During warmups, the students read through their scripts as if they were live on air. Fernandes explained that the practice helps students get used to their scripts each week before the show goes live at 5 p.m.

Ahead of their Dec. 16 show, warmups were lighthearted, and mistakes were taken with a grain of salt. Laughter was frequent and frustration was absent. The crew even played a few pranks on each other during run-throughs. 

With eight live shows already under their belts, the students were experienced at tackling challenges. When the teleprompter malfunctioned minutes before the show went live, associate producer (and AV Club president) Indiana Troupe stepped in to help eighth grader Isabella Rose, who runs the teleprompter and is also the youngest person on the team.

Rose joined the AV Club this year, and thought she’d watch the show tape from the control room on the first day. Instead, the team needed her on the teleprompter, and the job has been hers ever since.

“At first I wasn’t sure if I was ready,” she said. “But I love it. I love doing teleprompter now.” 

The students write the scripts, create the graphics and produce the show themselves, with the support of the WCTV staff. The show covers town news, including stories like the covid-19 vaccine’s arrival in Wareham, the outcome of the fall Town Meeting and updates on local sports.

Troupe, who is interested in going into broadcast journalism, said he hoped to shift the Morning Show to cover town news when he became president of the AV Club.

“My big goal coming in was to make everything more about the news and actual stuff happening and doing real reports,” Troupe said.

So when Fernandes told Troupe WCTV had an open slot for a news show, he knew it would be perfect for the club.

“I was like, ‘well, let’s do it,” Troupe said. 

Senior Emma Arcaro is the show’s news anchor and vice president of the AV Club. She opens each show and reports the bulk of the town news. Although she was initially hesitant to join the AV Club as a sophomore, now she said she can’t imagine her high school experience without it.

“My goal for this year was to go live once, even if it was virtually,” Arcaro said. She wasn’t expecting a weekly live news show — “never in my wildest dreams,” she said.  

Troupe compiles most of the stories for the show and helps write scripts alongside head writer Katelyn Trask. Troupe is also responsible for making sure the show stays on schedule, rather than being too long or too short.

The student-run news show isn’t all business, though. The spirit of the AV Club’s 20-minute Morning Show — which had been a fun, quirky show made for students and school staff that focused on Wareham High School happenings — lives on in some Wareham Viking News segments.

Weatherman Alexander Burdick’s weekly trivia question challenges viewers to learn fun new facts and Trask’s humorous ‘Kate’s Korner’ segment had the crew in stitches during warmups.

And, as with any live show, there are occasional hiccups. 

“The only thing that can be tough is the fast-paced adjustments that we sometimes have to make on the show, but that can also be the fun in it,” Burdick said. 

Burdick said he initially had no intention of being on camera, but eventually volunteered to be the show’s weatherman. He said he’s learned a lot about speaking on camera thanks to the club.

Fernandes said he didn’t want students to just sit on Zoom; he wanted them to actually participate in the club and keep the club alive.

Fernandes suggested filming shows after school, which gave the students more time for planning and work. He also said he encouraged everyone to participate and take on jobs.

“So they’ve all been trying to help out, which has made the club a lot better,” Fernandes said.

Sports reporter Laura Clements said she likes the live news show better than old the Morning Show.

“I like the system in place, rather than the somewhat unstructured nature of the Morning Show,” she said. “I enjoy some of the pressure of being live instead of being edited.”

Clements and her peers all spoke highly of the skills they’d picked up from the AV Club’s news show, which they said would be applicable in the future for further education or careers. 

Wareham residents can tune in to watch Wareham Viking News at 5 p.m. Wednesdays or 9 a.m. on Thursdays, when the show is aired a second time, on Channel 9 for Comcast/Xfinity users or channel 30 for Verizon/Fios users. Previous shows can be watched on YouTube.

Fernandes and the students said they plan to keep the news show going, even when the pandemic has passed.