Webcasting keeps sports fans connected

By Heather Reinhart / Buffalo High School News Editor

Webcast America Webheads in ActionCan’t make it out to all the Buffalo High School sporting events this school year? Have family living out of the area that want to watch their relatives compete? Why not catch the Bison on-line from the comfort of your own home?

A group of BHS students have been broadcasting home sporting events on-line this season through a company called Webcast America, which is based in Annandale and was formed in 2007. Not only can Bison fans watch the games live on their computer, but they can watch them again later on as all games are archived on the web site at http://webcast50.com.

Junior Morgan Lubben is one of the top broadcasters for BHS. He has done the majority of the play-by-play announcing for the home basketball games this winter, and said he really enjoys the experience.

“I’m looking to do this when I get out of school,” he said, adding that his dream is to be a television sports broadcaster. “I know the game well and I just kind of learn by watching sports.”

Lubben’s webcasting experience has also led to another part-time job. He has been the main announcer at the head table in the gymnasium for some of the home basketball games this winter.
Junior Nick Weeks is also active in webcasting. He said hockey is his favorite sport to cover, but he’s done a little bit of everything.

“I like feeling like I’m doing something,” he said. “People stop and ask about it, and it feels like you’re giving back and having people watch it.”

Weeks covered a gymnastics meet and even a cross country race earlier this year, but said he does basketball and hockey the most. Both junior varsity and varsity games are covered.

Webcast America provides the laptop computer, video camera and microphone that are needed for every broadcast. They also help train the students in how to use the equipment, and pay them $10 for every event they broadcast.

Annandale’s Brent Stromme is the owner of Webcast America and said it has really taken off in the past two years. He started the company as a way to keep up with his two active sons. One plays hockey and the other plays basketball, so his family often has to split up to watch games happening on the same night. Through webcasting, the Stromme family is able to watch the games on-line after the fact, and the children’s grandmother is also able to watch them play from her home in Detroit Lakes.

“It’s a way to keep people connected,” Stromme said.

There are about 30 schools signed up with Webcast America and the list of schools waiting to join is even longer. Stromme said that on one night last week, 45 games were streaming live across the state. He said that about 350 students are involved in the broadcasts.

The service is free to the school and is paid for through advertising on the Webcast America site. Each school has 20 advertising spots to sell on its page per year and receives 50 percent of the ad sales if they choose to sell the ads themselves.

Social Studies teacher Will Florsheim is the advisor for the Bison Broadcast Team and said there are about 7-10 students that have committed to the activity this year. The team covers two or three sporting events per week. Generally, two students are assigned to cover each event. One runs the video camera while the other provides the play- by-play.

Junior Ben Lesch prefers to stay off the microphone whenever possible and often can be found behind the camera. “I think it’s just like a fun hobby,” he said. “I’d be here anyway.”

Florsheim said BHS got involved in the program right before the start of the school year and said it was difficult to find students right away. Now, it has spread by word of mouth.

“It’s good to have kids that are really well versed in hockey and some that are well versed in basketball,” Florsheim said. “The plan is to keep it going.”

Buffalo also has plans to do webcasts for other school activities that may include Snow Daze events, prom, and graduation.

Several other Wright County schools are also involved in Webcast America. Among them are Annandale, Delano, Dassel-Cokato, Maple Lake, Monticello, and St. Michael-Albertville.