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Meet The Folks Behind THON 2021’s Livestream

THON 2021 might be over, but do you know the folks who helped make its livestream a reality?

46Live produced the official broadcast for THON Weekend 2021. It is completely student-run and comprised of hosts, a social media team, and a dedicated crew. 

46Live plays a large part in planning the annual event. It trains the hosts on what to say, the crew on all the equipment, and social media on what to post leading up to THON Weekend. When the day comes, 46Live airs what is happening inside the Bryce Jordan Center on top of its own content packages.

This year, however, the work was a little bit different. With THON being online, organization members were the ones responsible for the broadcast of the weekend for everyone who wanted to support it. 

“Usually, we work separately from THON, because they are running their own show and we’re running ours. But it is great to have this collaboration as well,” Grace Tomlinson, executive producer of 46Live, said.

Courtesy of Darniesha Pressley | 46Live

The change was also felt during the event. Spectators were not allowed inside the BJC, which created a whole different atmosphere for the crew.

“It was definitely different because it’s crazy to walk in the BJC and see thousands of people lined up, ready to start the weekend. But this year, it was pretty empty,” Tomlinson said. “We were still feeling the energy through social media and the interaction we were having because people were tweeting about us, telling us where they were watching from, so that was really cool.”

The social media team also felt the difference. In the previous years, it not only covered what was on stage but also interacted with the dancers on the floor. With the audience, it was able to capture funny moments on stage and all the signs people brought in. This year, the team needed to get more creative. 

“Since there wasn’t actually a lot happening inside the BJC, my team had a harder time figuring out what they should be posting,” Darniesha Pressley, social media producer, said. “It also gave us more freedom. This year the team was allowed to go basically wherever they needed to get coverage, unlike previous years when we couldn’t go to the stands. It was like a trade-off.”

For virtual THON, there was a lot of pre-recorded content. Michael Yarabinee, a tech producer, said that 46Live needed to work managing a lot of playbacks and making sure it hit the different cues with titles and make sure the playback was actually happening.

“This year, it was more about the collaboration between us and THON and just kinda filling exact time slots,” Yarabinee said. “We only had one stream, so we had our content, they had their content, and we were basically trying to fill all of the holes all the way down. So there was this collaboration back and forth to make sure that everything comes out smoothly.”

The members explained that due to the virtual nature of this year’s THON, no one had many expectations for the weekend heading in. They said there were many differences they were working up until the day of the event. 

“It was so satisfying to see everyone come together and see all of their hard work,”  Tomlinson said. “Our videos went smoothly, the timeline went smoothly, our hosts got to go on air, which we weren’t sure how much space they would be able to fill, our packages got played overnight and from my perspective. I think that everything went pretty great.”

46Live broadcasts every year for families who can’t come to the event and for anyone around the world who wants to support THON.

“Our goal was to mesh with THON as much as possible so people would get just one experience instead of two competing things,” Pressley said. “Knowing that everyone can see what we do for people who can’t be here it’s the icing on the cake.”

Courtesy of Michael Yarabinee |46Live

The sense of responsibility for being the sole provider of the THON live stream was definitely felt by its members. A common sentiment was of feeling accomplished and pride for the results of the livestream.

“The energy was definitely amazing with the entire team all weekend,” Yarabinee said. “46Live was the portal to THON to the entire world. So we were the only way of how THON actually reached the viewers so that was one of the coolest parts for me, honestly. We basically controlled how the people saw and felt everything. It was all through us,” 

To be part of 46Live, no experience is needed. Since it is completely student-run, people who work on 46Live learn how to use cameras, edit, and manage the necessary software. 

“I was a blank slate as a college of comm student when I first started 46Live,” Tomlinson said. “They thought me so much of what I know now. So since THON is over now, we typically start recruiting in the fall, so catch us at the involvement fair and look out our social media on how to join.”

46Live also covers almost every event that THON does. In the past, it covered events like the THON 5K and Family Carnival. Any event related to THON can be found on its social media and livestream. 

“We’re always here to bring THON events to people who can’t be there whether it’s alumni, people internationally, or children at the hospital,” Tomlinson said.

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About the Author

Renata Daou

Renata is a junior majoring in International Politics and one of Onward State's contributors. She's from Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil and no, she doesn't live in the middle of the Amazon forest. She likes learning new languages, reading, writing, and talking about the one time she went bungee jumping.
Follow her on Twitter @renatadaou to see her rant in Portenglish or e-mail her at [email protected] for serious inquires.

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