An Interview with the Producer of “Current Conversations”
“Current Conversations” is a television show hosted by R.C. Davis and produced by Video and Media Services in OU Outreach. Each episode features a notable guest and covers a particular topic relevant to today’s world.
Recently, “Current Conversations” has covered topics such as the Middle East, teaching science in the U.S., the 2012 presidential campaign and water.
“Current Conversations” recently aired on OETA and will air on one of its subsidiary channels. It also airs weekly on Cox Channel 125 on Monday and Wednesday at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. More information and streaming episodes can be found on their website.
The project coordinator and producer of the show is Angela Nicholson. Nicholson graduated from Rose State College with an associate’s degree in television production and has worked in various roles in local television news and sports broadcasting before coming to OU Outreach to work for Video and Media Services.
What is “Current Conversations”?
This program was originally called “Power of Ideas,” which was produced in the 1990s with R.C. Davis. Once it went off the air, we worked with R.C. on several other projects, but this one always kept coming back, so we decided to try to get the funding for a new series of shows. Since then, we have been able to do that through different colleges on campus.
The goal of the show is to take advantage of the guest speakers different colleges bring to campus. These individuals interact with R.C. in a lively discussion of current events. We want to do more than just record talking heads. We really do the research on each person, pick a topic and delve into that subject.
I book the studio and the crew as well as work directly with R.C. in developing the bios and all the preliminary information. During the show, I have multiple roles – I produce, handle the makeup and monitor the time. At the end, I review everything and make the final decisions about the edits.
Tell us about R.C. Davis. What has it been like working with him?
I’ve actually worked with him the whole time I’ve been here, all six years. When I first started working with R.C., he was dean of the Honors College. He also had done interviews for the College of Liberal Studies. R.C. is great; he’s very knowledgeable, easy to work with and has a lot of ideas.
Can you give us an idea of the whole process of creating a
“Current Conversations” show?
It starts with finding the funding, which is done per episode. We’ve had several colleges sign on so far. Sometimes they just want one episode, but we’ve also had colleges sign up for multiple episodes. Once that’s set and the guests have been determined, we settle on a topic. Then we schedule it and do the show. After that, it’s handed off to our editor. At that time, either I prepare the transcript or our student employee does it. We also have several other people who help with the transcripts. Once the original edit is completed, it’s sent back to me. I watch it and take notes, and I usually send it to R.C. to review for possible changes. Those changes are then made, and it’s finalized. At that point, the transcript and the video are handed off to captioning. The last steps are that it is aired on television and posted to our website.
The college that funds the episode decides on the guest. R.C. then works with the guest to determine the topic. Many times, it’s difficult to narrow down the interview to 30 minutes. Our guests are experts in their fields and are very busy, so that sometimes becomes a challenge for us. With certain people, it would be easy to do a two hour episode, or longer. But R.C. does a great job considering all the elements and deciding what to focus on.
What is your favorite part about working on “Current Conversations”?
My favorite part is learning about the guests. Having people who are really out there, doing exciting things in their fields– it’s really thrilling to be a part of it.
Not to make you play favorites, but have you had a favorite guest?
That would have to be Dayton Duncan. He’s a great documentary filmmaker. He and Ken Burns did the National Parks: America’s Greatest Invention documentary for PBS. When we interviewed him, he discussed spending time in the national parks. There’s one point where he talks about his sons and his mother. He got very emotional, and it was very touching to witness. The fact that he was really showing emotion in that context was very impressive to me.
Who would be your dream guest?
I think politics is obviously playing a huge role right now, and he’s just always been somebody whom I respect.
Our goal is to educate and leave the viewer with a greater understanding whatever the subject may be, whether it’s global warming or the Middle East. Some of the other ones that we’ve done with Research Department have been really great because they cover cutting-edge areas of research. These interviews are coming straight from people working in those fields – you don’t really get any better information than that.
Where do you want to see “Current Conversations” go?
R.C. has expressed interest in getting it on a network. We’re looking into that right now. We want to work in seasons on TV. Currently, we’re sticking with the web and the spot shows, but in the future we’d love to be affiliated with a network.
Any information you’d like to share about recent shows?
The OETA special will air this week, October 13 at 1:00 p.m. and October 17 at 7:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on the OKLA channel. Our latest episode is airing now on Cox channel 125 in Norman and is about medical research. The guests are Dr. David Schmidtke (chemical, biological and materials engineering), Dr. Ann West (chemistry and biochemistry) and Dr. Hong Liu (electrical and computing engineering). I’m very excited about this episode.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
We have a great crew. Everybody really steps in and does their part. I’m very appreciative of all that they do.