For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 23, 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Ackerman (701) 355-8002

BISMARCK, ND — It’s a college student’s dream come true. Thanks to a seven-figure investment by BEK Communications Cooperative they’ll have the opportunity to do things no other college student in the country has ever done before. Starting this fall, all University of Mary communications students will have the chance to work with state-of-the-art high definition television equipment to broadcast live events remotely from the new BEK Broadcast Studios on campus.

This partnership between the University of Mary and BEK Communications Cooperative is the first of its kind in the nation and goes beyond what is being done on a national level at sports networks and colleges.

“Nobody else is doing this — it’s the future of live broadcasting,” stated Derrick Bulawa, general manager at BEK Communications. “We are revolutionizing how live sports coverage is being produced. Some FBS Division I conferences are using similar technology, but we are taking it one step further with students operating our remote broadcasts, on-screen graphics and creating instant replay, on-air play-by-play and color commentary. The students will be completely immersed into all roles of live television production.”

“We are offering something different, something greater for our students,” added Monsignor James Shea, president of the University of Mary. “In 2013, the Board of Trustees at the University of Mary embarked on Vision 2030 — a new, robust strategic plan for the future of our students, our faculty and our campus. It’s a plan that engages alumni, current students, faculty, donors, trustees, community members and businesses to join with us to meet our goal and vision as a university with distinction. This partnership with BEK Communications and this new, one-of-a-kind studio answers that call. It not only serves our North Dakota communities but helps our students share in the joy of learning.”

The current technology and older broadcast model used by ESPN and other national networks involves bringing huge semi trailers to an event connected to more than a dozen cameras, with over 50 staff and on-air personalities.

BEK Communications and the University of Mary are simply changing the paradigm by turning the new studio on campus into what once was the traditional on-site television-production truck run remotely by students.

University of Mary and BEK Communications Partner to Provide Country’s First Student-Run Remote TV Studio

BEK Communications’ vast network will have unmanned high definition cameras positioned throughout venues in North Dakota and at the University of Mary. It doesn’t matter if the live event is on campus or hundreds of miles away, students will direct, produce and provide on-air talent all from a remote location at the new studio on University of Mary’s campus.

“This forward thinking model will allow University of Mary students access to technology that is on the forefront of where the industry is headed,” said Jordan Hassler, broadcast operations manager at BEK Sports. “We believe through the broadcast experience that BEK Sports Network brings in addition to the communications curriculum at the University of Mary, the new BEK Broadcast Studios will allow for an opportunity never before available to college students anywhere.”

To start, the plan is to broadcast approximately 100 to 200 live events a year.

“This helps raise our national profile,” commented Marek Dojs (MA-rick – Doyce), assistant professor of communication at the University of Mary. “One of the many benefits of this studio is that the live coverage of events goes way beyond just sports. They’ll broadcast not only sports from the University of Mary and across the state, but also various speaker presentations, music concerts, theater performances and Catholic Masses and other liturgies throughout the week on campus. Our students will acquire this experience beginning their freshman year and carry it through to their senior year. So it’s a win-win for our students, who will have world-class experience when they graduate and for the thousands of BEK customers who will always have a variety of HD content.”

To be located in the lower level of the Welder Library on campus, the BEK Broadcast Studios will be an attraction unto itself. With “On Air” signs lit up outside, a majority of the structure will be enclosed by glass and positioned so anyone can see the massive amounts of technology and activity going on inside and what it takes to produce live events remotely.

About the University of Mary
As a Christian, Catholic, Benedictine institution, the University of Mary offers education for the whole of life through cutting-edge professional programs grounded in a solid liberal arts tradition.

Founded in 1959 by the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery, Mary offers nearly 60 undergraduate, 14 master’s, and three doctoral programs in education, nursing practice, and physical therapy. The University of Mary is also home to the new and innovative Year-Round Campus — starting this fall students will be able to get their degree in 2.6 years and master’s in four years. With over 3,000 students, Mary has locations in North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Kansas, Arizona, Rome, Italy, and Arequipa, Peru, as well as vibrant online offerings. For more information, visit www.umary.edu.

About BEK Communications Cooperative
BEK Communications, founded in 1952, is a multi-faceted communications service company headquartered in Steele, North Dakota with branch offices in Bismarck and Valley City. The company provides fiber-based voice, internet, ethernet and digital television services; voice and surveillance cloud-based services; live sports broadcasting on BEK Sports; and hospital and business communications solutions to more than 7,900 customers in North Dakota. The company emphasizes an intimate local service experience and a broad portfolio of high quality communications services at a reasonable price. To learn more, visit www.bektel.com.