History of Student Television Stations

Synapse era (1970–1977)
The organization was founded in 1970 as Synapse, an off-shoot of the Syracuse University Light Work Community Darkrooms. Synapse operated as a student and community video center, working as an adjunct to the academic programs at Syracuse University. Synapse was conceived as a center for experimental video productions using the "portable" video equipment that was just becoming available in the early 1970s. By current standards, the "portable" equipment would be considered ludicrously heavy and bulky, and barely portable at all.

During these years there was continuing and on-going debate between those who favored more conventional approaches to programming and those who envisioned more experimental and creative approaches. In 1971, cables were run across the campus to various locations where students could watch the programming, including dormitory lounges, the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and the basement of the E.S. Bird Library. At its peak, the system had over 100 monitors able to receive the programming.

Early founding members included Carl Geiger and Bill Viola, who helped build the cable system. In 1972, Synapse began operating in Watson Hall. A color three-camera television studio was built. Visiting artists who recorded material at the studio included members of The Firesign Theatre. Operations were managed by Gail Waldron, Bob Burns and Lance Wisniewski. Synapse recorded music concerts and prominent speakers on campus. Synapse had a portable system which was used to record the feelings of inmates at Attica Prison following the Attica prison riot.

In 1973, Henry Baker organized remote coverage for Richard Nixon's second inauguration and the demonstrations in Washington. In 1974, wishing to expand its offerings, Synapse sought and received outside support from the New York State Council on the Arts. Artists in a visiting artists program visited Synapse and used the facilities for the production of video art pieces for several more years.

Other projects included Carl Geiger designing and building new electronic image making tools and producing an elaborate experiment called “Multi-Origination Dance Piece." Synapse maintained master edits and a tape collection with copies of works produced through the programs. They actively encouraged wide distribution of the produced work, especially broadcast.

In 1977, Synapse left Watson Theatre, leaving behind the color production studio and campus cable system. Synapse forged an association with the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, with which it shared its production equipment and studio facilities, and continued one of its functions as an independent production house for experimental video, allowing access to the community and to video artists, as well as producing some of its own productions.

In 1981, SU had become dissatisfied with the curricular component of their relationship with Synapse. While executive director Henry Baker made a proposal that redefined the educational aspects of the Synapse Program, SU rejected the plan and elected to terminate the program. Synapse moved off campus and closed in November 1981.

UUTV Era (1977–2004)
The color production studio and campus cable system were taken over by the largest student-run organization on campus, University Union, which also programmed film screenings, concerts, speakers, and later established a radio station, WERW (We are UU). The television station was reorganized as University Union Television, or UUTV. Though technically under the control of University Union, the station had its own management, which reported to those in charge of University Union as a separate "board." Despite of this oversight, the station usually ran autonomously. There was also a faculty advisor nominally responsible for oversight.

The station remained entirely run by students, who programmed the station and produced television programming in-house, including a nightly half-hour news program. UUTV also occasionally aired X-Rated films in the early 80s, largely to generate publicity. Early student productions included "Newswatch," (1977–1984), a comedy show which had a format almost identical to that of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," which did not come on the air until 1990s, though "Newswatch" was frankly derivative of the "Weekend Update" segment of "Saturday Night Live," which premiered in 1975. Several of the shows including Newswatch 'bicycled' their tapes over to Syracuse Cable TV, and had them aired on the cable TV system's Public-access television channel.

Another long-running show was "Null & Void," a sketch comedy show (somewhat of a replacement for "Newswatch") that ran almost 20 years, starting in January 1987; its premise of the programming at a fictional low-rent TV station was strongly influenced by SCTV. Another popular show during the years 1990–1992 was "Uncle Bobo's World of Fun" which included such colorful characters as Texas Bob Stone and Marty the Fishboy.

The station also continually broadcast a sports-talk show, and each semester ran "The Bio Answer Show," in which University biology professor Marvin Druger would broadcast the answers to that evening's biology exam, so that the large number of students taking the class would not have to wait several days to find out how they did on the test. "The Rhythm," a popular music video program featuring music and interviews from R&B, Rap, Reggae and Urban Contemporary artists, was another popular show during this era and added diversity to both the station's programming and the channel's production staff.

The station also programmed professionally-produced television shows from television's past, such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Star Trek." Some of these were 16 millimeter films shown on the station's film chain. Though the films were rented from a local film library, the legality of showing them over the campus cable system was never clear. Many eybrows were raised when UUTV showed several recent theatrical releases even before HBO had screened them, including "Raiders of the Lost Ark." During this period, the station was on the air approximately seven hours per day, seven days per week.

In 1989, an organization called "U-Net," an association of college-based broadcasters, began showing some of UUTV's productions at various colleges around the nation, including "Null and Void." This led to a clip of "Null and Void" appearing on the national show "Entertainment Tonight."

During the early 90s, UUTV established a relationship with the Syracuse cable TV franchise that enabled nearly all UUTV programs to be aired on the City of Syracuse's cable system public-access channel. During this time, the public-access channel was happy to accept and air the UUTV programming as long as it complied with some rudimentary decency standards. There were a few shows that could not clear the decency hurdle, but for the most part, all of the UUTV programming eventually found its way on to public-access.

The nightly newscast (Campus 7 News) and the once-a-week morning show (Sun Up) both did this, along with most of the station's entertainment and sports programs. Campus 7 News was aired at 10 p.m. on the public-access channel, leading the show to be tagged by its producers as "Central New York's Only Prime-Time Newscast," which it was.

The arrangement with Syracuse's public-access channel quickly became the only remaining practical outlet to distribute UUTV programming. During this time, the campus' original closed-circuit TV network was generally not maintained by the university at even the most basic level. As all of the campus dorm rooms were re-wired for commercial cable TV, the campus closed-circuit TV network was pushed out of the doorm rooms and relegated to the "dorm lounge areas." It became logistically difficult for students to view the campus network. As TVs quickly became a standard fixture in every dorm room, students rarely watched TV in the dorm lounge areas, and the campus closed-circuit network faded in to obscurity.

The demise of the campus' closed-circuit TV network did not dampen the enthusiasm of the students at UUTV. The organization continued to attract record numbers of students and regularly produced a full complement of news, sports and entertainment programs every semester. During this time, SU exercised almost zero oversight over the station, which empowered students to experiment, learn, have fun, and create any type of show their hearts desired. With the absence of university oversight, and no ratings to fret about, UUTV became a fertile ground for experimentation and learning. In some nominal sense, UUTV had returned to its Synapse roots.

Over the years, there was sporadic controversy about the station's funding. Some student government members thought that the student fee should not be funding educational opportunities for those students working at the station, and that UUTV's film programming was wasteful and duplicative of the UU Film Board's programming. Several times, the station was given a budget allocation of $0 during the annual student government budget hearings, yet with help from the larger UU organization, was always able to bounce back.

In 1999, UUTV's great grandparent, Light Works Community Darkrooms, re-entered UUTV's life in a most unexpected manner. SU announced that they had accepted a very substantial grant, which would further develop the photography program of Light Works Community Darkrooms. Unfortunately, Light Works was physically located directly next to the UUTV studios in the Watston Theater complex. Light Works was hungry to acquire the UUTV real estate for their upcoming expansion, and their newfound grant money provided the political and monetary support that they needed. SU administration was eager to accept the Light Works grant, and only nominally aware of UUTV's activities. Consequently, the original Watson Theater television studio was completely gutted to make room for the Light Works expansion. The UUTV studios and offices were moved down the hall and squeezed in to a space that formerly housed the original UUTV offices and the independent student radio station, WJPZ. The Watson Theater complex was renamed the Robert B. Menschel Media Center, in recognition of the Light Works donor.

Though the UUTV studio and office spaces were now significantly smaller, the station did benefit from a new complement of production equipment that was purchased as part of the relocation. In effect, SU administration had forced UUTV (and WJPZ) to accept an implicit deal that traded real-estate for new equipment.

In the early 21st century, Internet distribution of UUTV programming became technologically practical, and the station found a new outlet to distribute their programming.

HillTV Era (2004–2005)
In early 2004 UUTV, led by general manager Eric Fleming, split off the University Union, and became a separate student organization: HillTV. Later that year the university trialed its "Orange Television Network," which, in a partnership with Time Warner Cable, gave the university two channels in residence hall and academic building cable systems. HillTV was allowed to broadcast some of its shows on the "Orange Television Network," which operates these channels. Ironically, it was rumored in The Daily Orange, SU's independent student newspaper, that UUTV would receive the channels that were eventually allocated to the "Orange Television Network". The "Orange Television Network" became permanent, and HillTV continued to provide some of its quality content.

Over the Hill controversy
On October 18, 2005, The Daily Orange, SU's student newspaper, published a story about the content of one of HillTV's shows, Over the Hill. The show had several episodes online (some of which had also aired on the "Orange Television Network") that contained content that some people found offensive because of racial and ethnic jokes. These shows were brought to the attention of The Daily Orange by the producers of the show itself, who believed they were being treated unfairly by the station's management.

HillTV immediately removed the show's episodes from its Web site, and shortly afterwards issued an on-air apology. The controversy sparked a letter to the university community by Chancellor Nancy Cantor, and the story was also picked up by the Syracuse Post-Standard, local TV stations and the Associated Press.

On Oct. 20, in a greatly debated and controversial decision, Nancy Cantor revoked HillTV's status as a recognized student organization, breaking the history of HillTV by punishing more than just the 'Over the Hill' team. The HillTV Web site was removed shortly afterwards. Cantor claimed she would "create a new, responsible television station." Current and past HillTV members, many faculty members and members of the university and community questioned the lack of due process Cantor displayed.

On Oct. 25, former General Manager Rich Levy and numerous former HillTV members filed a petition for reconsideration. Pressure to reinstate the station mounted from alumni, several dozen of which spoke out for reinstatement. According to The Daily Orange, one alumnus reconsidered a $25,000 donation towards the construction of a new building for the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

On Nov. 11, SU held a hearing before a panel of three tenured faculty members at an undisclosed time and location to reconsider Cantor's decision to disband HillTV.

On Nov. 30, the panel reversed the Chancellor's decision and reduced the punishment to a suspension and one year probationary period and required HillTV to undertake steps toward re-organization to prevent such an issue from arising in the future. Requirements under this decision included a name change for the station, as well as several forms of oversight. The panel also ruled that the university, including the Chancellor and members of her cabinet, must take responsibility for "Over the Hill." Chancellor Cantor's task force for a "new responsible television station" made suggestions to HillTV management about how to create a more diverse and welcoming environment for all campus members instead of creating an entirely new television station

The station had planned to return under the name 'CuseTV, but that title was reportedly rejected by the university due to trademark concerns.

CitrusTV Era (2006–Present)
In 2006, after the shut down from Nancy Cantor, the television station was able to re-open under a new name; CitrusTV (http://www.citrustv.net). During that time the station focused on renewing the culture at the station by taking a dramatic different approach on how they recruited new members and changing the attitude within the major departments. In addition, they implemented changes on how content is review to make sure that another “Over the Hill” never happens again. In April 2006, the station provisionally regained its recognition, and by September of that same year was granted full recognition by the university.

CitrusTV now makes its content available online in addition to traditional cablecasts on campus on the Orange Television Network and across the central New York region on Time Warner Sports Channel 26.

In November 2006, CitrusTV began to offer its programming via podcasting. Podcasts can be subscribed to both via the station's web site and the iTunes Music Store. The podcasts are presented in a format compatible with video iPods and other portable media devices

In November 2008, CitrusTV launched a new Web site, while also rebranding the station with a new logo.

CitrusTV has partnered with a variety of local and national stations to provide content to CBS Sportsline, InsideLacrosse.com, Time Warner Cable Sports and Syracuse.com.

General Managers
    - Joseph Hoffman
    1983-84 - Lisa Levin
    1984-85 - Michelle Jackino
    1991-92 - Matt Prohaska
    1996-97 - Steve Watson
    1997-99 - Erik Lindberg
    2002-03 - Matt Carvette
    2003-04 - Eric Fleming
    2004 - Joe Iuliano
    2004-05 - Chris Milkovich
    2005-06 - Rich Levy
    2007 - Fabian Westerwelle
    2008 - Rebecca Wyant
    2009 - Jaime Sasso
    2010 - Ryan Balton
    2011 - Ben Slutzky
    2012 - Brad Slavin