A TV studio in the basement of Sproul Hall now has a connection to a satellite that allows UC Riverside’s faculty experts to be beamed to CNN or other television news stations.

Members of the news media often call the Office of Strategic Communications at UCR seeking a faculty expert who can speak about breaking news, current events or interesting research.

Jonathan Walton, assistant professor of religious studies, was the first person to test the Experts on Demand system, located in the Sproul Hall studio used by Jim Brown, UCR’s longtime director of video production.

While Walton answered questions from a CNN producer through an earpiece, Brown received direction from a technical person at CNN’s New York studio through headphones. “Video looks good. Audio is fine,” he said.

The successful test was the end of a long effort to make it more convenient for UCR faculty to be interviewed by national media. Now instead of a drive through traffic to a Los Angeles studio, it could be a quick walk to Sproul Hall.

The signal goes through a fiber optic connection from Sproul through the campus network to the telecommunications building, where it connects with AT&T's regional fiber network to a hub in Hollywood, and then up to a satellite that can be captured by any news agency.

“It required the generous cooperation of computing and communications to make it happen,” said Brown.

“Our hope is that we can offer convenient access to our experts and that will help us make UCR better known in the national media,” said Marcia McQuern, associate vice chancellor of external relations.

A series of media training sessions will give faculty members a chance to test out the studio, as well as hear about the most effective ways to deal with media requests.

Senior campus communication officer Todd Ransom will take the lead on the project. He can be reached at (951) 827-1287 or todd.ransom@ucr.edu.