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Opinion

Focus On U offers chance to gain TV experience

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February 6, 2014

UW-River Falls has a lot of exciting clubs, groups and fraternities. But I’ll bet you didn’t know that UWRF has its own television show called Focus on U. I know I did not.

So you can imagine how surprised I felt, one procrastination-filled evening while casually flipping through channels, when I came across the image of a familiar face on the screen. I quickly clicked back to see if I had made a mistake.

But no, I knew that face. I saw a fellow classmate on the television screen. Maybe this local UWRF student had come into something big, won a talent contest or caught the eye of a Hollywood producer.

My interest piqued, I decided to look into how this student who seemed so normal, whom I passed nearly every day in the halls, got on television. After some hard-edged Internet investigation, I found out the down low on Focus on U.

It started about 20 years ago and has remained an unknown, to me anyway, staple of the university for all that time. Not only did I discover that, but I also found episodes from the past several seasons on the official Focus on U You- Tube channel: FocusOnUTelevision.

A few hours later I felt thoroughly educated. Focus on U has an interesting concept, they follow a late night show format with a host, announcer, a couple of guests for those mandatory interviews that one might expect in this type of show, a segment which covers the latest news, an assortment of short pre-filmed segments covering almost any kind of topic and a musical act to close off the show, all clocking in with a run time of about forty minutes.

It didn’t seem like all that much while watching, but after writing that I’ve concluded that they really know how to pack in the content.

The true novelty of the show, however, comes from seeing our very own campus featured on television, seeing familiar faces talk about local events, ways to get more involved on campus, opportunities for success in college life and more. All of this is wrapped up in a light-hearted atmosphere that encourages us to not take ourselves too seriously.

Those positive aspects aside, the show probably will not have you running out on that handful of professional late night hosts you hold so near and dear to your heart. The likes of Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien get exorbitant amounts of green presidential pulp to bring a highly polished product to the eager masses. Focus on U, on the other hand, has to rely by and large on full-time college students to bring it to life, college students most likely relying on Ramen Noodles and various assortments of carbonated sugar waters to keep them from breaking down and going into a weeklong coma induced by lack of sleep. So you’ll have to forgive the show for its hit and miss overtly referential humor and bathroom jokes.

But the thing that excites me the most about Focus on U is the seemingly open nature of the production. Just about anyone on campus could get featured on the show. Even if they only want to talk about how they’ve got some really nifty yodeling skills that they’d like to demonstrate, or how they got a cute pet turtle and or armadillo that absolutely demand media attention because of their astounding cuteness.

Episodes from the last fall’s season currently air 9 a.m., 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. daily on Channel 119. The first episode of the new season should start airing Feb. 14. It will become available on FocusOnUTelevision, the show’s YouTube channel, shortly after that.

Matthew Ford is a student at UW-River Falls.