MCN87 Makes a Return Despite COVID Setbacks

Bradley Augenstein, Reporter

Students in the Misericordia University Mass Communications program and their television station MCN87 are looking to bounce back after Covid-19 setbacks.

Along with various other programs affected by Covid, MCN87 had to temporarily cease operation.

“MCN didn’t necessarily fold; it took a pause momentarily,” said Mike Gombita, MCN advisor. “There wasn’t a person in a faculty role that could supply it in a pandemic.”

Gombita said MCN87 is entirely student-run, with students making decisions about content.  With Covid’s restrictions on students, the comeback of MCN has been strained and Gombita says MCN87 is in a crawling phase.

“Now, because of technology and the way we view media as a consumer, we are just trying to figure out what works best,” he said.

Gombita looks to restore operations, see MCN87 get back to its pre-pandemic stage and is hopeful students will begin to participate again.

Junior mass communications and design major Zachary Pippen believes reaching out to teachers and students who may seem interested in MCN87 can help spread the word about the station.

“The best way I think it can be increased is probably reaching out,” Pippen said.

With participation a factor, more issues need to be addressed regarding MCN87’s reach to students.

Gombita said students’ reaction to the station’s return was not present, as most did not know about the station.

“I’ve been finding that out frequently,” he said. “For some reason, students just didn’t know what MCN87 was; there wasn’t a lot of excitement.”

Gombita is trying to find out where the disconnect between students and their knowledge about the station occurred.

Lack of knowledge about the station has also been seen by Pippen.

“Whenever I would ask people to come do interviews and what not, they would have no idea where it was,” Pippen said of the station.

Pippen said if there was more advertisement and if members showed students what goes on in the video studio that could possibly aid in an increase in students reaching out.

With the landscape of classes and the environment of Misericordia being changed by Covid, MCN87’s return began to draw doubts from those looking to bring the station back.

For Gombita, these doubts are attributed to recent faculty changes, which have resulted in students learning video skills differently than other years.

“We have an additional generation that was taught Video 1 online,” he said. “So, the challenge is fixing that generational gap with the students who are learning.”

Luckily, the production side of MCN87 hasn’t been particularly affected by limitations and mandates of Covid.

“We still use the same mediums as we did when I was a student. It’s just kind of presented differently,” said Gombita.

He went into further detail of the schedule by saying the station staff used to run a 30-minute show, but now it is currently taking segments and producing those individually.

He did not rule out a return to the 30-minute format, but said it is the students’ decision whether or not that change is made.

With the hands-on approach of the Mass Communications program at Misericordia, limitations and issues were not seen in MCN87, but in other aspects of those working in mass communications at Misericordia.

On the advising side, Gombita said the virtual learning meant his workload saw a major influx.

“Being the man behind the camera and the person trying to organize things and schedule things, it gets intense sometimes,” Gombita said.

In addition to the effects Covid-19 on everyone, MCN87 has had its fair share of setbacks since the pandemic hit.

Some of those setbacks include common issues such as power going out in the station, as well as technical errors.

“I’ve forgotten light tripods at one point, so for the whole time during our shoot we spent most of the time holding up the lights plugged in,” Gombita said. Covid is in its own category, unfortunately.”

In addition, Mass Communication students also saw major effects on other schoolwork from Covid limitations.

“All my other classes that were involved with the Mac lab computers were online,” Pippen said. “I’m more of an in-person learner so it was tough for me because I did not enjoy it and it was harder to focus when I was on Zoom.”

On the other hand, students and teachers alike can also look to the positive effects Covid may have had on their careers.

“I think it’s just a good opportunity for everyone to get back on their feet. I think, really, we’ll get back to the importance of being a part of MCN87,” Gombita said.

Pippen believes that, from a student’s perspective, students had more leeway and time to get their work done.

Throughout the challenges faced, MCN87 continues to power through.

“Our goal is to provide informative and entertaining television to students, faculty, staff, and alumni at Misericordia University,” said Gombita.

The long-lasting effect MCN87 has on students’ and faculty’s careers can be seen through Gombita himself.

“It’s a really a good opportunity for anybody who wants to work in video,” he said. “With my work I’m doing now, I don’t think it would be possible without the experiences I had with MCN87.”

Students working at the station are also in good spirits, as well, with the station sharpening their skills and preparing them for the future.

“It’s been a pretty cool experience,” Pippen said. “I’m learning a lot and it’s kind of refreshing my brain about all the stuff I’ve learned in my other video production classes.”

Pippen was a fan of learning the software and said MCN87 will help him if he wants to a future career in video.

For students who may be interested in joining or taking part in MCN87’s operations, both Pippen and Gombita have suggestions on how to participate at the station.

Pippen suggests reaching out to Gombita or other students involved to show interest in joining MCN87.

“If anyone asks if you’d be interested in participating in a segment, I think it’s a real fun experience,” Gombita said. “I also understand how it could be a little uncomfortable to be in front of the camera.”

Gombita made it clear that MCN87 is open to everyone and said would be nice to have a diverse group of students taking part.

He further elaborated on facts of the station students can participate in by pointing out some students strictly do graphics, editing, and shooting.

“We’ll take you in any way,” he said.

If interested, students can watch MCN87’s segments on, as well as like them on Facebook at MCN87 and follow them on Instagram at MCN_87.