"Dawg Talk" - the Two Year Journey
Updated: Jun 24, 2019
First, let me say that this article is meant to give some insight into Dawg Talk's origins. This is about the how and the why behind Dawg Talk's slow evolution. In 2016, Mickey Farmer and I were working on developing a media studio within Ashville High School to give us a space and the equipment to cover and promote Ashville sports. We were focused on highlight videos, web design, graphic design, and archival film. Our priorities were social media and promoting our kids, making Ashville sports somewhat of a leader in digital sports media...not broadcasting.
We were working with the Ashville Spirit Club to raise the money that we needed to achieve our goal...$15,000. Now, when you ask a media guy how much money he needs to get something done, his knee-jerk response is, "How much you got?" But, we were just starting out, and I knew that we could build this thing out as long as we had the essentials; therefore, I thought it would take $15,000 to provide us with the essentials.
Then, almost simultaneously, Mickey and I brought up the idea of broadcasting, almost as a funny "what-if" moment. We talked about how great it would be to promote our kids and school LIVE on a stream or broadcast, but we never took the idea seriously - we hadn't even gotten to where we were even halfway done with fundraising for the studio. But...each one of us thought about it more and more - as I later found out - and I mentioned it again to Mickey. Providence stepped in at that point, encouraging us even more.
In 2017, Hobart McLendon, one of our good friends and a member of the Ashville Spirit Club, talked to me about having a sports talk show, similar to Sportscenter or something on regular ESPN programming. I thought it was a great idea, but I never thought that we could do it. My expertise was in post-production work, meaning that I knew how to film something THEN edit it on a computer, not broadcast something live over the internet. I was out of my league on that topic, but Hobart kept it up. Finally, after thinking about how we could raise the money outside of asking the Spirit Club for a larger budget, we decided to seek sponsors.
Thank goodness for the awesome businesses and people in Ashville, because we received so much support from our commercial partners in the area. Once we decided what our budget needed to be, and then raised the necessary sponsorship money, we were golden. But, I still didn't know that much about broadcasting. For the next several months, Mickey and Hobart finessed the show's format, and I researched the best way to stream and how we could do it with the highest production value possiblele at the cheapest cost to us.
Then it came time to name the show. "Dog Bites", "Light it Up!", and "Time Out" were all considered, but, for the sake of keeping it simple, we chose "Dawg Talk". It was easy and not too corny, which were our only qualifications. With a name and a budget, we set off to find two people that could lead our little ragtag broadcast team on the screen. Kevin Moore came to mind immediately. He was well-versed in the art of broadcasting, albeit without a camera, but still, he knew how to handle himself on a broadcast of some kind. He would also do it for free, that was VERY important. Mickey and I knew that he could move the show along as a Chris Fowler, Rece Davis-like figure, pacing out the show as it developed. Next, we needed a Kirk Herbstreit to Moore's Rece Davis - someone that could ask the good questions and create an interesting conversation to engage viewers. First name out of the hat: Jay Stewart. Jay knew sports and public speaking, which made him a natural fit for the job.Thank goodness he said yes, because he was also free.
With the format set, the hosts in place, now it was time to buy the equipment and begin testing...but wait...technical difficulties. The Ashville Spirit Club's ability to purchase the equipment was hampered by some random guy in Colorado who decided to steal our credit card information. After solving that issue, the equipment was purchased, and we began testing. But wait! The one piece of equipment most crucial to this entire project wasn't working. Our computer wasn't capturing the live feeds from all of the cameras. Apparently, I purchased the wrong capture device. Sending it back and getting the correct one only took five weeks, delaying us even more. No problem!
Finally, we decided on December 8th as the air date. Working long nights after school, basketball games, wrestling matches, etc., we finally began testing the equipment and seeing how hard it would really be to make this work. Test after test, something wouldn't work the way that we needed it to. This camera's battery was dead, this microphone couldn't be mounted, this light won't come on - it was always something. Mickey was thrust in front of the camera, reading plain information out so that we could test cameras and sound, but, surprisingly, people found it interesting.
After several grueling days of testing and very little sleep, Friday, December 7th, came. Mickey and I got to the school six hours before going live to make sure that the set and equipment was ready. Finally, the time had come, after almost two years, to do what we never thought we could do in the timespan in which we were about to do it. Sure, we thought it would come about eventually, maybe in 2020, but not now.
Kevin and Jay strolled in, ready to go, the set was finished - thanks to Pam Farmer and Nickie Van Pelt - the equipment was ready - thanks to Mickey - and I was stressed beyond measure because I had no idea what I was doing...we were about to do it anyway.
Some of you may have caught that I said we were going live on Friday, which was December 7th, not the 8th, which was the date that we decided on. Well...we thought it would be better to tape the show and then stream live the next day, just in case we ran into some of kind of problem. I'm glad we did this because there were problems, there always are in these situations.
Regardless, we went live after Ashville Basketball hosted the Good Hope Raiders and the rest can be seen on the episode linked above. Kevin and Jay killed it, Coach Farmer and Coach Cole were awesome guests, and we had several wonderful people behind the scenes making sure everything went as smoothly as possible.
Now, we hope that Dawg Talk can continue to promote Ashville sports and students for the foreseeable future. Of course, we aren't where we want to be with it...there's always room for improvement, but it's still nice to see the support from the community. Watching it go live on Saturday morning and seeing the reaction from the town and our friends was so fulfilling. We hope that we can keep improving and broadcasting so that our program and Ashville Athletics becomes the best in the state. Our goal is to unify our community and make our kids the envy of everyone else. Promoting our sports programs and school is so important, so why not do it in style. Thanks for everything, Ashville. More is coming your way!
Nick Wilson is the author of this article and the Director of Creative Media for Ashville Athletics