If you live in Buckhannon or are a fan of Buccaneer sports then you know that if you’re not sitting in the bleachers or the stands your chances of knowing the play-by-play action is pretty limited. For some fans, parents, grandparents and community members it’s not always possible to attend every game, but you want to know what’s going on. This was exactly the conversation that took place over lunch one day between Mike Donato, Dave Chipps and Brent Kimble. It wasn’t long after that discussion that the Buccaneer Sports Network was off the ground and running. We talked with Mike, who is the Buckhannon-Upshur High School (BUHS) boys soccer coach, about what this new program means to the Bucs and their fans.
What is the Buccaneer Sports Network?
Mike: It’s a live broadcast in which we broadcast BUHS sports via a live Spreaker page, which can be accessed via mobile app, or desktop devices. We will be live broadcasting both varsity home and away football and boy’s basketball games with limited broadcasts for girl’s basketball, soccer, baseball, and softball events.
Why did the Buccaneer Sports Network Get Started?
Mike: If you’ve been in the community then you know it’s been a number of years since our sports have been broadcasted. It’s been at least 4-5 years since anyone could hear a boy’s basketball game on the radio and at least one year for football. To me, this felt like a big disservice to our school and community. It came up one day at lunch and we asked ourselves “what can we do?” “How can we bring it back?” We just thought that with podcasting and online streaming services…it’s possible. We approached administration and the athletic director and said “we can do this on our own.” I priced equipment including headsets, cords, microphones, an account for podcasting and the school thought this was something affordable and feasible to do. Once we got their support we started approaching business owners. Sam Nolte was one of the first businesses we approached and he thought it was something the community would get behind. The people have missed being able to listen to these games. Once we got the approval and got the account moving then other businesses jumped on board. We just went for it. Did some testing with baseball games in the spring and making sure the equipment worked online. The very first broadcast we did had 170 devices tuned in online. The five games we did after that averaged 80-130 devices from all over North Central WV – not just Buckhannon. We take the time to alert the away school that we’re broadcasting the game live so people were tuning in from Philippi and Clarksburg. We did six baseball games total this past spring.
What has the response been so far?
Mike: Great! I’m proud to live in a place where community members are passionate about their sports. We want them to come to us for a reliable BUHS sports source. We’re not just fans or coaches, all of us have some sort of background in communications and I take it very seriously. This is a service that we want the school to be proud of – we’re doing this under the umbrella of the athletic department. This broadcast will be sharp, well-produced and if anyone’s listened to our broadcasts then they know the production has been great.
How are you getting internet service to stream these broadcasts?
Mike: Another issue in getting this off the ground was connectivity. We have to be online to provide a podcast. Unfortunately with how the school’s internet is set up we’re not able to use the school system. That’s when Micrologic stepped up to help out. Butch, President of Micrologic, was more than willing to help us out with what we needed and knew we had a good idea. Micrologic will help us out in ensuring we’re connected to a network for both home and away games.
The logistics of not being sure when you go to a school to broadcast a game – if they’ve got a good internet connection is a problem. For us, that’s not the case due to Micrologic’s involvement. Being able to provide a live feed for every game we want to broadcast is a pretty big deal. For home games, Micrologic will set up a small private network for the Buccaneer Sports Network in different areas where games take place like the stadium, gym and soccer and baseball fields. We anticipate a great connection with zero issues.
Where do you see this project going?
Mike: Hopefully I see it picking up in the fall where we left off. I see it being more than just a way to listen to sports, as another service we’re going to be doing is a weekly call-in show. Every Wednesday Buffalo Wild Wings is going to allow us to come down and broadcast live at 7PM. This will be a weekly call-in show with guests every week where we preview upcoming matches, discussions, and just talk about BUHS sports. We want the community to get involved and ask questions. Spreaker can be downloaded on your phone or desktop giving listeners the ability to live chat and ask questions about anything that’s going on with BUHS athletics.
We’d also like students to get involved – it may be in a limited basis at the beginning – with students wanting to learn about radio, sports journalism, podcasting. We’d like for them to come learn from us and see how to set up equipment, how to announce play-by-play, how to conduct an interview, and how to produce and edit commercials. Just show them the behind the scenes on how it all comes together.
If you’re a Buccaneer fan, whether across the country or right in downtown Buckhannon, starting this fall you’ll be able to listen to Mike and his crew bringing you the play-by-play action. As the official sponsor of the Buccaneer Sports Network, Micrologic is proud to be located in a community where members can come together and get a project like this off the ground.