The channel that kept southeast Louisiana in the know during uncertainty


Courtesy of Rick Settoon

Student workers sit socially distanced in The Southeastern Channel studio. The channel’s students, faculty and staff have followed the university’s health and safety guidelines throughout the semester, including wearing masks and maintaining space between individuals.

As multiple areas of campus had to adjust amidst a pandemic, The Southeastern Channel has continued its production and adapted under new circumstances.

Rick Settoon, channel general manager, discussed how the transition has influenced the channel and its staff.

“In order to ensure safety for everyone, we’ve really instituted some changes to adhere to COVID protocols for the students taking production classes, and also to staff,” explained Settoon. “We are teaching just as effectively as ever before and students are still getting as much hands-on experience. We actually just had a virtual convention where Southeastern won first in the nation in multiple categories.”

Despite a number of operations being put on hold last semester, Settoon believes The Southeastern Channel maintained a work ethic for the common good of the public.

“In the spring, we had aired a new coronavirus special every week and it had all types of information,” mentioned Settoon. “Because we were not able to do those face-to-face interviews, we did them through an online or audio format. We informed the Northshore on services like every local center that was offering coronavirus testing, which local schools were offering free meals and when to pick up, and how to apply for emergency loans for your business. All of this information was helpful for viewers to live their lives.”

Settoon explained that Louisiana’s transition into phase three has allowed the channel to continue face-to-face production.

“In the spring, we finished our courses as theoretical instead of hands-on, but in the Fall we have made up for lost ground,” said Settoon. “We are one of the few universities in the nation that chose to resume face-to-face. We are still getting our newscasts done, our students are still going out into the field and shooting interviews, coming back and doing editing all with masks on and maintaining a six-foot social distance. We’re actually producing more during the pandemic as we’ve had to produce and live stream faculty lectures, music events, and Homecoming forums since these events could no longer invite in-person audiences due to social distancing requirements.”

The channel has worked to meet the needs of staff to ensure a safe environment.

“Students have the option to come to the channel during their scheduled work shifts, or do some editing at home if they feel comfortable,” explained Settoon. “It is a flexible operation that we have instituted to serve the students. This is because we have had to reduce the number of workstations available. We used to have students jammed into areas such as the control room like sardines, but we have had to have several positions cut down so that people can stay safe.”

Taylor Nettle, a freshman communication major, shared her experience during her first semester at the channel.

“Working at the channel during a pandemic is definitely different from my past experience in the industry,” said Nettle. “Production now requires a lot of social distancing and limits on people allowed in areas. We have to sanitize our work stations when we arrive and leave, and there is a lot more to consider when working on a project. It is for sure different, but as long as we can be safe while still being creative is what really matters.”

To stay updated on all things southeast Louisiana, The Southeastern Channel can be accessed on Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV Stick.