A live news program with a twist has hit the cable airwaves in Dawson City. Since June 25, Curtis Collins and Alyssa Friesen have gone live on air every Tuesday at midnight to offer a satirical look at local, national and international events.
Along with musical guests, interviews, stories and a faux commercial, the 30-minute program aims to “conflate” the news and offers a skewed perspective on current events.
It all started when Collins and Friesen went to a community meeting in May to discuss starting a cable TV station in Dawson. After the meeting, Collins and Friesen sat down and brainstormed about programming.
The Midnight News was born.
“We thought it was a great summer idea to do it at midnight as it doesn’t get dark here and nobody sleeps in this town anyway,” says Collins.
Collins, who is director of the Yukon School of Visual Arts (SOVA) and Friesen, who is office manager at the Klondike Sun newspaper, have broadcast journalism and cable TV experience.
Friesen, along with two others, has also recently started a production company, Sternwheel Productions, which, along with SOVA, CFYT 106.9 FM Radio and Dawson City Television, is providing assistance to the program.
After several meetings to nail down the format and the approach to the program, Collins and Friesen brought others on board to help with technical support and floor managing.
“The more people behind the camera the better,” says Collins. “We’ll find roles for everyone.”
They decided to locate the news set on the balcony of SOVA, overlooking a busy street that includes a popular local nightspot.
“We wanted to mimic the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, where the presenters sit outside with visuals in the background”, says Curtis. “It’s a beautiful look and a cool shot.”
There are occasional disturbances from the street, even on a quiet Tuesday night, but Collins says that whatever happens, they roll with it.
Just before the broadcast, the crew sets up. There is a run through for the presenters and cameras at 11 p.m., and at 11:30 the guests arrive. At midnight, the show begins.
Wednesday is a sleep-in day, and on Thursday, the whole crew meets to analyse what went right and wrong.
“It’s a lot of work,” says Friesen. “At 15 hours per week, it’s almost like a part-time job.”
“That doesn’t pay,” pipes in Collins.
These two enjoy playing off each other. As presenters, Friesen is the straight man and Collins is the comic relief.
“He needs to be tied to his chair,” says Friesen. “He moves around a lot.”
“It’s a mix of serious and ridiculous in varying proportions,” says Collins.
Collins and Friesen are hoping to put eight to 10 episodes on the air and finish off in September. But there is already talk of returning during the winter.
“We’re thinking of doing an Al-Qaeda Christmas special,” says Collins.
For more information regarding the Midnight News, contact Curtis Collins at (867) 332-1729, or firstname.lastname@example.org.