When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, no one was immune from its affects, including HCVN.
“When the state went into lockdown earlier in the pandemic, HCVN shifted our operations, too,” said Liz Marcus, HCVN coordinator. “We stopped recording programs altogether at first, and when restrictions relaxed a bit, we continued to restrict our in-studio recordings, but began recording some of our volunteer-led programming outdoors over the summer.”
In terms of government meetings, the Hutchinson School Board, Hutchinson City Council and McLeod County Board worked with HCVN to move their typically in-person meetings to virtual environments still accessible to cable and online viewers.
“One of the silver linings of pandemic limitations came with the start of the academic year (2020-21), when (former) Activities Director Thayne Johnson approached us about the possibility of live-streaming school athletics,” Marcus said. “This opened up a new area for HCVN to serve the public, since physical attendance at these events was highly limited or non-existent. This was a learning curve for all of us, further complicated by a constantly changing game schedule due to COVID. However, with the combined efforts of Thayne and the district, KDUZ, and parent and student volunteers, HCVN managed to bring live home games to both cable and online viewers, free of charge. Although we were familiar with carrying school concerts and awards programs live, the live athletics component was something positive that grew out of this experience.”
With the lack of new programming, HCVN filled its schedule by digging into the station’s archives. The local network regularly plays programming from past years, so in this way things remained similar with more reruns than usual. The station also began airing audiobook recordings of classic literary works to help people pass the time at home.
The station also made virtual events as an alternative to the usual in-person gatherings. For example, it worked with Hutchinson High School to facilitate a blend of live and pre-recorded footage for the drive-in commencement ceremony. And in lieu of a Memorial Day Service in 2020, HCVN teamed up with American Legion Commander Tim Burley and the local Legion to put together a virtual ceremony. It also worked with the Hutchinson Jaycees to pull together the 2020 Water Carnival Reflections video in place of live events.
When COVID restrictions were eased earlier this year, HCVN returned to its pre-pandemic way of operating.
“Thankfully, most of our volunteer programming hosts were able to join us once again, bringing back the local updates and interests we had missed,” Marcus said. “We were also glad to be back out recording events this summer and autumn, continuing to live-stream when possible for those who cannot attend. We have also been able to maintain the live athletics dynamic with the new activities director at the district, so we continue to learn what works well in regard to programming with the schools.”
SOMETHING NEW, FAVORITES RETURN
According to Marcus, HCVN’s newest program is “Out and About with Max,” which features host Maxine Engwall, 2019-20 Hutchinson Woman of the Year. So far, one episode has launched but Engwall plans to record the next episode by the end of the month.
“Max’s show is a revival of two former programs she had with HCVN and the local radio,” Marcus said. “The new ‘Out and About with Max’ episodes feature Maxine reminiscing about past interviews with famous figures, and combine the present-day hostess with earlier audio recordings and photos. Her first episode featured her talk with ‘Benchwarmer’ Bob Lurtsema, and her follow-up episodes will feature past chats with figures such as Lou Nanne (North Stars hockey player, coach, member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame and International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame) and Tony Bouza (retired police officer who served in the New York City Police Department and as police chief of the Minneapolis). Maxine’s program will be airing on HCVN 10 at 8:30 a.m. Mondays and 6:30 p.m. Fridays.”
The station’s longest-running program is hosted by Hutchinson Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism president, Mary Hodson. “Chamber Connection” has been airing on HCVN since 2014, and explores topics of interest to the residents of Hutchinson. Hodson’s episodes include an in-depth look at new school construction, information on road work projects, residential and business safety tips, chats with graduates of the Leadership Institute, and on-location tours of local Chamber-affiliated events such as the annual Hutchinson Arts and Crafts Festival and Dairy Days. To watch “Chamber Connection,” tune into HCVN 10 at 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Saturdays.
Originally titled “Spotlight on the Collection,” the McLeod County Historical Society’s local program has also been a long-time staple on HCVN. When Executive Director Brian Haines took over the program from Lori Pickell-Stangel, he changed the title to “History Quest,” and adjusted the focus to original local storytelling, area road trips, and a little historical commentary with a light-hearted, humorous side. Watch Brian’s program on HCVN 10 at 6 p.m. Tuesdays, 11 a.m. Thursdays and 9:30 p.m. Saturdays.
If you’re looking for a good book recommendation, or maybe a book to avoid, HCVN’s “Off the Shelf: Book Talk with Book Lovers” is the perfect program for you. I host it with Betsy Nelson as we answer the question “What have you read lately?” exploring genres ranging from mystery to fantasy, and everything in between. While we provide colorful reviews of our reading history, we never give away an ending. Viewers are invited to contact us with their own recommendations or book commentary. New episodes are aired twice a month. Watch this program on HCVN 10 at 11 a.m. Mondays, 6 p.m. Fridays and 8:30 a.m. Saturdays.
“As statewide and even national veterans programs started becoming harder to find, host Lisa Dittell stepped up to start ‘Hutchinson Veterans Outreach Program,’” Marcus said. “This HCVN program is recorded in-studio at times, but often finds Lisa and camera operator Rene Strayer out at veteran-focused events and organizations across the state. Lisa’s goal is to cover a variety of topics that interest and assist veterans and their families, but also hopes to create a bridge between veterans and civilians.” The program airs on HCVN 7 at noon Mondays, and 9 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturdays.
Hostess Joyce Hochsprung is host of “In the Garden,” one of the newer programs on HCVN. This monthly show includes garden tours by local green thumbs, as well as tips and tricks from Master Gardener Hochsprung for transplanting, pruning and planning your flower gardens. These programs are largely filmed during the warm months but air year-round, so when February feels long, there’s a reminder that gardening is just around the corner. Tune in to “In the Garden” 11 a.m. Tuesdays, 6 p.m. Thursdays and 9 p.m. Saturdays.
“With the dawn of the pandemic, HCVN partnered with the Hutchinson Library to record and air ‘Story Time’ for viewers young and young at heart,” Marcus said. “This weekly program features children’s librarian Rachelle Golde reading a collection of picture books from the week’s theme. ‘Story Time’ allows children at home or day care to enjoy the library’s programming without bringing large groups together during this transitional time. Watch this program on HCVN 10 at 7:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The HCVN program “Bringing Art to Life” has taken many forms during its lifetime, but currently provides a window into the ever-changing galleries at the Hutchinson Center for the Arts.
“If you’re looking to relax, grab a cup of tea and watch a virtual tour of each artist’s work … this program is for you,” Marcus said. “This program is meant to mimic an in-person gallery experience, slowly showing various angles and viewpoints of each piece of art in the gallery, and at times includes a recording of the artist’s reception and discussion of their work.” Watch this program on HCVN 10 at 9:30 p.m. Mondays, 8 a.m. Wednesdays and 5 p.m. Saturdays.