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Live, from your computer, it's (Tufts event here)

Behind-the-scenes JumboCast team works to make events available online in real time

Published: Monday, April 10, 2006

Updated: Sunday, August 17, 2008 14:08

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Vanessa White

Freshman Matt Kaufman of JumboCast has found a niche behind the camera.

Couldn't make it to last week's Edward R. Murrow symposium? No problem: If you've got a computer, then JumboCast has a front-row seat for you.

JumboCast - equally beneficial to lazy and busy students - is a Web site (www.jumbocast.com) that allows the Tufts community on and off campus to watch events as they occur, as well as gain access to past events.

JumboCast has recently expanded its coverage, which initially included only sports such as basketball, softball and hockey, to other events on campus.

Accordingly, the aforementioned Edward R. Murrow symposium and the recent lecture by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee could be seen from the comfort of students' own home or dorm room.

Several years ago, Tufts students didn't have that same option. JumboCast began in 2002 when Steve Clay (LA '90), a former Editor-in-Chief of the Daily, worked for WMFO. After graduation, he stayed on campus to cover football and basketball games.

When Clay found that it was very difficult to schedule airtime for all varsity sports, he decided to try using the Internet instead: JumboCast was born. But Clay soon found that as a working father, he could no longer dedicate the necessary time and energy to JumboCast, and he began recruiting students.

One of these students was current president and general manager of JumboCast, sophomore Steve Poon. Poon worked for JumboCast all of last year; in October of this year, he helped the group to gain official status as a Tufts Community Union (TCU)-recognized student group.

Since then, JumboCast has only become more popular - and Poon has the numbers to prove it.

"When we stream to the Internet our servers can tell us how many viewers we get," Poon said. "For the 2005 NESCACS finals of Tufts vs. Amherst, there were 50 viewers and we thought it was a great showing.

"One year since we became a student group, there were 300 viewers for the Tufts vs. Amherst NESCAC game, and for the NCAA tournament there were 500 viewers," he said.

For Poon, this is better then he "ever could have hoped for."

"The New England Revolution gets about 500 viewers, and for the Patriots there are about 1,000 viewers - that is a pretty good showing," Poon said. "If there are between 500 viewers at home and 500 people at any given Tufts athletics game, that's one quarter of the student body."

While Poon and freshman Matthew Kaufman, JumboCast publicity director, are both very interested in increasing the amount of viewers, they both agree that one of the most important aspects of JumboCast is its ability to unite many different people.

Along with students on campus, athletics and lectures can also be accessed by parents, alumni and students from other schools.

According to Poon, this aspect of JumboCast is exactly what has sparked the interest of the University administration.

"Since we started covering the lectures they have really caught on. We hope that they support us because it is really great that we are reaching out to alumni all over the world," Poon said.

"There is a 20 percent international crowd at Tufts, and we believe that they should be able to stay connected," he added. "There is already a large California support base, and we get feedback all the time from parents who live out on the West Coast and now get to see their son or daughter live."

In addition, the staff of JumboCast is dedicated to attending almost every sports game and putting in many hours to set up for events. One such event was the Edward R. Murrow symposium, where the staff of JumboCast worked a total of 35 hours over two days.

According to Kaufman, the expansion of JumboCast's coverage to include "lectures and non athletics-related projects are a result of [JumboCast Business Director] Steven Johansen's hard work."

"He's our only outgoing senior, and it will be a great loss for us when he graduates," Kaufman said of Johansen, who writes for the Daily's Sports section.

But Johansen is just one of many dedicated members of the JumboCast team.

"The staff is the most dedicated group of people, even though they are working completely pro-bono," Poon said. "Without them we wouldn't have had the success that we've had this year."

"It's a lot of fun," Kaufman said. "The people who do it are great."

Along with the perks of working with a team of fun and hardworking students, staff members of JumboCast also get the chance to visit different events and meet coaches, athletes and other members of the administration.

"You get to build relationships with coaches because they know you and recognize what you are doing," Poon said. "They are all very nice.

"It also opened up many opportunities that I never thought about like being able to go to NCAA tournaments," he added. "You get a big media feel and get to dress up and wear press passes."

The latest expansion of JumboCast has been the inclusion of the University's many culture shows.

"All of these cultural groups have great shows," Poon said. "Now everyone can watch, including parents and friends. For the International Club's Creative Nations culture show, we made a stream, put it online and made DVDs."

"It's great because if you can't get into an event or if all tickets are sold out, you can still experience it," Kaufman said.

"Almost everyone has a computer," he added, "and this is a great way to take advantage of that."

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