Summer break is rapidly approaching, and if you are like most high school broadcasting teachers your studio will sit unused for the summer. 

Here are a few tips that you might want to follow to make sure there are no surprises when you come back in the fall.

Being the end of the school year, it’s probably a good idea to inventory your equipment, even if you are not required to do so. 

This gives you a base-line to start with next year and a way to keep track of your equipment throughout the year.  One easy way is to create a simple Excel or Word document with columns to enter the name, serial number (for major items), condition and date purchased.  I use a separate sheet or page with each room.

A good next step might be to go through old projects on your computers and delete them for a fresh start in the fall semester.  Save the best projects to show examples to your new crew, and why not take this time to upload them to SchoolTube?  We would like to see them too!  As a final step for the PC computers run disk defrag and clean out your old internet files.

I highly suggest unplugging all power and internet cables.  Also, you should disconnect any TV cables.  The reason for this is to protect your equipment from power surges and lightning strikes.  Almost every piece of modern TV equipment is a mini-computer and it only takes a small “zap” to turn them into paperweights.  If the piece of equipment has any connection to the outside world it’s in danger of a lightning strike.

The only exception to this rule, I would suggest, would be to leave a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) backup power supply plugged in to keep the batteries topped off.  It’s probably not a good idea to let it drain completely over the summer.  It should have good surge protection and I am willing to take my chances on these, but I would still unplug the equipment that is plugged into the UPS.

While you are unplugging equipment this would be a good time to label your cables.  A cheap label-maker is about $20 and “worth its weight in gold” when it is time to plug everything back together.  I also disconnect my studio cameras for protection, and it makes them easier to push to the side for studio and floor cleaning.

Speaking of floor cleaning, I try to push all of my equipment out of the way for floor and summer cleaning.  Do you want someone who may have other things on their mind moving your studio cameras?  Is there any painting or roof work being done at your school over the summer?  It might be a good idea to cover your equipment with plastic sheeting to keep dust, paint and rain off of your equipment.

Another end of year job should be to charge your camera batteries and then remove them from the chargers for storage.  Getting the most life out of rechargeable batteries is almost a “black art” but I have had pretty good luck with the method of storing them fully charged.

Lastly, what about the air conditioning system in your studio?  Speaking from personal experience, this is something you need to think about.  During the summer the air conditioner in my studio and control room was set to stay on Monday – Thursday and then shutoff Friday – Sunday.  Not a big deal you would think, but after a month of this cycle in South Louisiana I had mildew on the curtains in my studio, the headsets, the teleprompter cover and pretty much everything else made of cloth.  Also, there was rust on the non-painted items, like all of the screws in my then brand new studio cameras!

Since that summer we have convinced them to leave the air conditioner on every day for at least a little while.  We haven’t had a problem since.

Hopefully, a few of these tips will help you get up and running in the fall trouble-free and without any equipment surprises.  Also, now you have a good first project, how to plug everything back in!

Dupont-HeadshotAlbert Dupont has been the Advanced TV Broadcasting Facilitator (Teacher) at the Satellite Center in Luling, Louisiana since its opening in 2005.  The Satellite Center is a “satellite” facility of Hahnville and Destrehan High Schools.  The schools are a part of the St. Charles Parish Public School System located near New Orleans.

Before becoming a teacher, Mr. Dupont was a news and sports videographer for WVUE-TV in New Orleans for twelve years and news producer at WAFB in Baton Rouge and KATC in Lafayette for five years.  As a sports photographer, Mr. Dupont was a field videographer at the New Orleans Saints games from 1994 to 2009.  He also was a videographer at two Superbowls and numerous college national championship games in a variety of sports. He is an Avid Certified Instructor in Media Composer 5.

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