Making (sound) waves; SAIT’s RTBN program turns 55

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Middays with Devon: Devon Steele hosts the Wave’s midday show in an RTBN studio in Calgary on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. Steele is in his second-year of the RTBN program’s radio major. (Photo by Carly Anderson/The Press)

Students in SAIT’s radio, television, and broadcast news (RTBN) diploma program have been hard at work this semester, broadcasting music, news, feature stories, and much more through SAIT’s campus radio station, 103 the Wave, and television show, Newsfile.

The Wave is run by second-year students in the radio major of the program, and Newsfile is run by second-year students in the television and broadcast news majors.

Students run every aspect of these operations, including all pre-production, production, and post-production work. This includes elements such as coming up with story and content ideas, writing stories and scripts, reporting, DJing, and operating audio and video equipment.

“I like how every day [there’s] something new,” said Stacey Hein, who works on Newsfile and is a second-year student in the broadcast news major.

“You get to talk about stuff [that’s] newsworthy, but you also get to talk about stuff that you feel like maybe somebody would appreciate or … that somebody needs to know,” said Okello Luri. “And it’s a great way to outlet that, because you have a platform once you’re on TV or radio. You have the voice to say whatever you want to report.”

Luri also works on Newsfile and is in his second year of the broadcast news major.

The Wave and Newsfile provide second year RTBN students with a hands-on learning experience on all aspects of how a radio, news, or television production operates. This is important, as having a diverse skillset makes students more employable and allows them to work in a variety of different settings.

“A lot of people think that a radio station is just the people on air, but at any specific radio station, you’ll have 30, 40, 50 employees, and really only about 10 of them are on the air. There’s a tremendous amount of people who work behind the scenes,” said Richard Stroobant. Stroobant is an instructor for the RTBN program, as well as a graduate of the program. Prior to instructing at SAIT, he worked as a producer at Calgary’s CJAY 92 for almost 20 years.

Broadcast News: Stacey Hein, a second-year student in the Broadcast News major of the RTBN program, works in a control room at SAIT in Calgary on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. Second-year students in the broadcast news major of the program run SAIT’s campus news show, Newsfile. (Photo by Carly Anderson/The Press)

The RTBN program is two years, or four semesters, long. In the first semester of each major, students learn fundamentals of the industry, such as writing, audio and video production, and speech and presentation skills. In the second semester, students continue to refine these skills and do more hands-on work relating to all aspects of their respective major.

For students in the radio major, “by the time they’ve finished third semester, they’ve done every job, and we do that because the way the industry is, very rarely does somebody go out to a small town … and do just one job,” said Stroobant. “They’re generally writing commercials and then they’ll do an on-air shift … There are several roles. It isn’t until you get into a market the size of Calgary where you’re only doing one type of job.”

In their fourth semester, depending on their major, students complete capstone projects, a practicum, and run the Wave and Newsfile.

Second-year students in the radio major are also tasked with rebranding the radio station. The campus radio station is rebranded each year and relaunches with a new name, logo, and design each January.

“You see this happen in industry all the time, where a station changes its name. They change their format a little bit, sometimes change the people that are on the air, but it’s a really good exercise for our second years to go through to rebrand the station,” said Stroobant. “They come up with a brand-new name … they design everything.”

This year, the radio station is called 103 the Wave.

“We ended up landing on the Wave because we wanted to move away from the ‘sciencey’ themes of years past … The Wave gave us a nice easy-going vibe that also had a double meeting,” said Brandon Smedley. Smedley is in his second year of the radio major and works on the Wave.

“The soundwaves which is seen in our logo is a big part of it, but it also allowed us to go with an ocean theme for our social media and station imaging,” said Smedley.

The radio station has had many names in the past, including Fusion 103 and Nova 103.

In the upcoming fall 2022 semester, the RTBN program will celebrate 55 years since it was first offered in 1967. The program was originally named television, stage, and radio arts, and was later changed to be named the cinema, television, stage, and radio arts (CTSR) program in 1982. In 2006, the program was overhauled, and became the RTBN program.

There have been many graduates from the program in the past 55 years. Many graduates of the program have worked or are now working in radio stations and television productions across the country.

“I would bet that you can’t turn a Calgary radio station on and listen for more than 15 minutes and not hear a SAIT grad … and if it’s not a person that’s on the air that came out of this program, the commercial you’re listening to likely was written by a SAIT grad or voiced by a SAIT [grad] or produced by a SAIT [grad]” said Stroobant. “And in some cases, all three.”

To watch Newsfile or listen to the Wave, visit the RTBN website. Newsfile is livestreamed every Tuesday and Thursday at 4:30 p.m. and previous episodes of the show are available to watch on the RTBN YouTube channel. The Wave is streamed through the RTBN website, where written news stories by broadcast news students can also be found.

Storytellers: Okello Luri poses for a portrait while working in one of SAIT’s radio and television control rooms in Calgary on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. Luri is in his second-year of the RTBN program’s broadcast news major and works for SAIT Newsfile. (Photo by Carly Anderson/The Press)
About Carly Anderson 5 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Carly Anderson is working as a writer for The Press in 2022.