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The show must go on: Concordia On-Air prevails through pandemic

Outside the weather is cold, chilling to toes and noses alike, but in Olin on Wednesday nights, the studio is warm with excited energy. The show is about to start. 

Chatter and rustling. Laughter and talking. A hand raises, fingers counting down. Five, four—noise ceases—three, two—shifting feet and clothing adjustments—one: a smiling face welcomes you to Concordia On-Air. 

Concordia On-Air is a student-run co-curricular program between the communications and art departments that is live streamed every Wednesday from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Senior and executive producer Erin Grabinger has been directing On-Air for two years. 

“We are a student-run live weekly broadcast, featuring news and sports that cover at campus, local, national and international levels. Arts and Entertainment is another segment we have that features campus or national events,” said Grabinger.

On-Air hosts prepare to go live | Maria Klipfel

Along with Grabinger, On-Air is made by a select group of students who do tech, run segments and host the show. First-year student Jack Lanners is one of the show’s hosts. During On-Air, Lanners introduces the show and segments and talks about upcoming campus events. Hosts also conduct interviews with the event organizers and do fun games or activities. 

“I think one of my favorite things as the host is to come up with games or activities at the end. We have done a lip sync battle and pin the donkey before,” said Lanners. “We have fun, but still cover a lot of things. If you’re interested in art, there’s art. If you are interested in Dylan and I making goofballs of ourselves, there’s that too. It has a little bit of everything.”

“As a student-run activity, I love being in the background,” said advisor Greg Carlson. “The content is created entirely by the students involved in the activity. It belongs to the students and that’s something I really like about it.”

Like all other student-run activities, COVID guidelines have created unexpected challenges. On-Air switched to online practice meetings at the start of this year and has found a way to utilize the sets without compromising safety. 

“It has been going a lot better than I had anticipated. I was worried about producing an in-person show while still keeping safety restrictions in place, but we have really been able to work with the restrictions in a way that has still kept the show going pretty well,” Grabinger said. 

Although it was an adjustment, the show is up and running for this year and many to come. 

“I am just really proud that we kept it going, and are able to produce the same high-caliber shows we have in the past. I will be able to look back and say that we didn’t give up and that’s something I am really proud of,” Grabinger said. 

Looking back on her time spent here, Grabinger is glad On-Air was part of it. 

“I remember when I toured Concordia I really wanted to see the studio so I went down there and looked around. I thought everything was so impressive,” Grabinger said. “Over the years, I have become so much more comfortable with being on-air and being in a director position. I take for granted how impressive it is to do this show.” 

Similar to Grabinger, Carlson is impressed with the show and how it has evolved over the years. 

“Technology changes so rapidly, so partly some of the experience of this activity is seeing these changes real-time. When I started 20 years ago, we were editing the show tape-to-tape. Now the show is not recorded on any disc or tape, but it is captured digitally and is streamed live or can be watched on YouTube,” Carlson said. 

While technology has a large part in it, ultimately it is the people that make the show. 

“I love seeing the creativity that students put into the show. We have people from all disciplines from all across campus who just enjoy the camaraderie and being able to make something and share it. It’s a safe environment for people to explore their interests,” Carlson said. 

“It’s a very supportive space where if you mess up, we all just laugh about it. It’s a space where you can learn and grow a lot as a public speaker and performer. You have all the support that you need,” Grabinger said.

From public speaking skills to teamwork, On-Air teaches its members lifelong skills in addition to an opportunity for fun. 

“The hour that we are there everyone is always laughing and cheery. It’s a big boost to my week,” Lanners said. “It sounds cheesy, but everyone there really wants to be there.”

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