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“Final Fantasy” tackles new broadcasting tactic

“Final Fantasy” tackles new broadcasting tactic

Armed with headphones, microphones, and a camera live streaming every word and movement, seniors Tyler Aki, Danny Castelli, Jackson Kinsley and Michael Mainzer transcend the traditional boundaries of high school radio with “Final Fantasy”, a fantasy football show not only broadcasted on the radio, but also on High School Cube, an online sports network which streams live high school events.

For the last two years, Aki hosted his show, “Final Fantasy”, with co-hosts Castelli, Kinsley and Mainzer. They broadcasted their analytical, humorous discussions about fantasy football and other sports-related news on the GBS radio station, WGBK, according to Mainzer.

However, Aki became inspired by ESPN’s sports-talk radio show “Mike and Mike” to recreate “Final Fantasy” into a regularly televised radio show, an unconventional feature for high school radio broadcasting, according to Aki.

“ESPN’s morning talk show, ‘Mike and Mike’, is not only on the radio but it’s also televised, so [I] wanted to take that twist and bring it into my show,” Aki said. “This is something that this school has never done before, so hopefully it’ll pioneer something.”

When Aki presented his idea of filming “Final Fantasy”, Castelli, Kinsley and Mainzer liked the concept and were excited to help implement it. Radio Adviser Dr. Daniel Oswald was especially thrilled of this opportunity for his students to legitimize their broadcasting careers.

“I was proud and excited,” Oswald said. “They’re finally doing real broadcasting where they’re taking the things they learned in class and applying them in a more real-world way: going out and finding interesting stories, contacting people involved in those stories [and] getting them to come on the program. This is exactly what I was looking for, a self-directed effort to improve their program, and they did it with flying colors.”

With Oswald’s approval and the students’ efforts, the televised version of “Final Fantasy” debuted Saturday, Oct. 18. Because the hosts had only broadcasted their voices before and this was their first time on camera during the show, Castelli was concerned about how they would act while they were being filmed.

“On the radio, obviously no one can see you, so I would try to make them slip up [just for fun]: make weird faces at them, wave at them [and] do stuff like that,” Castelli said. “Now that you’re being filmed, you can’t do anything like that… I remember Tyler said to Doc [Oswald] that as soon as…the camera started rolling, we instantly started acting more mature.”

Mainzer, also unaccustomed to being on camera, viewed being filmed as a benefit because their movements and actions added to what they were saying.

“It provides the viewer with the ability to see,” Mainzer said. “If we make a deal or a bet like, ‘this player is going to beat your player’, they can actually see us handshake, which is kind of cool. It’s different because we have to look more professional, but it’s also nice that they can see what we’re doing while we’re talking.”

For their first show on High School Cube, they not only made bets, but  also discussed topics ranging from previous football games, to their favorite players. They provided their listeners and viewers with a lot of information, but they incorporated humor and disagreed with each other to keep their show interesting, according to Mainzer.  Kinsley, believing that disagreements are important in retaining the interest of their audience, instigated many of them.

“I’m kind of the bad guy on the show,” Kinsley said. “I disagree with the [other co-hosts] very vehemently on purpose. I remember after our first show, one of the dads said that we agree too much on things. No one wants to watch four people agree on everything […] Fantasy football is a competition about competition. They want people on the air talking smack, so that’s kind of my role.”

In their endeavors to improve their show, they also were able to interview Matthew Berry, ESPN fantasy sports analyst, whom Aki met in New York.

“[Berry] had a book signing while I was in New York,” Aki said. “I thought, ‘I listen to his podcast all the time [and] I love watching him on TV’, so I wanted to meet him. I asked him, ‘I have a fantasy football radio show. Could you come on it?’ He gave me his email, […] and we made it work for Saturday.”

Although ESPN does not usually sanction their representatives to make appearances on other productions, ESPN allowed the students to interview Berry for Final Fantasy, according to Castelli.

“[Berry] said it was fine with ESPN because it was just a small show,” Castelli said. “It’s not like some NBC or CBS competitor. It was just some high school scrubs trying to get through.”

According to Castelli, the televised debut of “Final Fantasy” was a success and received positive responses from Oswald and students in the advanced radio classes. Castelli feels that he and his co-hosts have great chemistry together, and their improvements to the show worked out well.

“Obviously [the show] can always be better, but right now I think our show is the best it’s ever been,” Castelli said.

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