Rambler Roundup Executive Producer Chloe Johnson now produces the show remotely from her home in Dayton, Ohio.
October 14, 2020
By Genevieve Buthod
Rambler Roundup was started two years ago by a group of students seeking to produce a TV show that highlighted events on campus at Loyola University Chicago.
Rambler Roundup started as a daily one-minute news digest shot in the School of Communication’s Convergence Studio. It evolved into a weekly news magazine produced by a dozen SOC students.
But what happens when the campus shuts down and there are no events to cover? This is exactly what the Rambler Roundup team encountered when the coronavirus pandemic closed Loyola’s campuses.
Undaunted, the intrepid Rambler Roundup crew continues to produce a show, albeit from their apartments or bedrooms of their childhood homes.
We caught up with Rambler Roundup Executive Producer Chloe Johnson, a junior Multimedia Journalism major, to see just how the show is being produced these days.
First, and most importantly: how are you doing?
I work at a retail store, so I go from online classes to working in the real world around real people. I’m staying in Dayton, Ohio with my family. That’s an adjustment as well. I’m not used to being in the college setting and being around them at the same time.
What is the background on Rambler Roundup?
Rambler Roundup originally started as a small student group that was in the studio, giving three quick stories about events or opportunities for students that day. We would write a script, record in the studio, edit right after, and upload it on the SOC YouTube channel. We would schedule it for each day, one person per episode.
Now, Rambler Roundup has become a platform for students to utilize social media more. We used to upload it to YouTube and then promote it on our social media. Now we are making episodes for these actual social media platforms themselves. They’ll get the story on social media, rather than on YouTube.
How have things changed for Rambler Roundup, since so much has moved online during the pandemic?
When I started we got about 20-25 views on each video. Now we’re seeing over 200 views, just by using this new platform.
We are also making the stories more complex, more realistic. We’re incorporating an anchor, a reporter, sometimes a narrator. We’ll record an interview, and it resembles a news show. Jamason Chen, our advisor, always tells us, our show should model itself after 60 Minutes. We have segments like announcements and telling students about virtual events, as well as reporting on campus news. In our last episode, our investigation was about the BLM movement on campus.
What are you most excited to see Rambler Roundup do this semester?
What I’m most excited for is Rambler of the Week. We’ve never talked to students themselves before this idea. This segment will be a way to engage with students, ask them how they stay motivated. I think during this time it’s so important to check in with people. It’s important for those seeing it, too. It lets you know that if you’re feeling the same way, you’re not alone.
We’re also posting the videos directly on Facebook or Instagram, where students can see it right away. You don’t have to follow a link to Youtube. Now you can stay in the same place and watch it right there.
I saw your Instagram video. It looks great! How do you plan to do it throughout the semester?
Having Instagram as our main source of our content, we’ve had audience engagement increase quite a lot. There wasn’t much engagement through YouTube. We didn’t see comments or anything. Now with Instagram, we can see that people like it, comment on it, and we see the views too. We’re able to honestly see the reaction that people have to our content. We just posted a new video yesterday, 23 hours ago, and we already have over 100 views. Usually we’d have about 35-40 views at the most.
Last semester we also started having weekly content, as opposed to daily stories, because we wanted to expand our content and our coverage. With more complex storylines, you can get a wider audience each week.
In the video, it mentions doing a Rambler of the Week feature. Could you tell me more about that?
The intention is to engage with Ramblers, whether they be living near campus or living at home, like I am currently. We want to interact with our viewers. In our last episode, we talked with three different students to get to know their experiences. I think everyone’s story is important. This is a way to get to know more students and put it on a platform that other students can see, and they can realize that they’re not alone in dealing with this struggle. It’s a way for Rambler Roundup to let students talk about themselves.
Do you see Rambler Roundup as a service to students on campus?
Since moving back to my home suburb, not being in class in person, sometimes I don’t even feel like I’m in college, since I’m not in that same environment. What we do at Rambler Roundup is engaging in conversation with fellow students. We’re not connected as we were physically, because we’re not on that same physical campus. But we can still engage in dialogue. We can learn from each other.
Rambler Roundup’s responsibility is to be relatable and genuine. Everyone is dealing with this is in different ways, and we want to hear about it. I always tell my anchors, really value the people you’re interviewing. Really engage with your sources. Be kind.
Could you tell me more about your position, as well as other roles at Rambler Roundup?
When I started off at Rambler Roundup, I was an anchor, and now I’m our Executive Producer. My role is to do all the scheduling for the storylines. I lead weekly Zoom meetings, I schedule an assignment for each person each week. They have to find a story, record interviews, find pictures that they can use for it without copyright infringement. I record the intro part of our video, so I make sure what each person’s story is about that week so that I can introduce the right information in each video.
As far as other roles, we have anchors and reporters, and that’s most of our crew. Their job is to get the story. In post-production, they make sure all the stories have the pieces they need to be coherent. We also have a social media manager, whose job it is to acquire new followers and post relevant content to what’s going on with the university. I also always make sure to ask people when they’re particularly swamped to let me know, so that I don’t overschedule them and give them an assignment on a week when they’re really busy.
How can students find out more about Rambler Roundup?
You can find us on Facebook and Instagram at the handle @RambleRambler Roundupoundup. You can always expect by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest to see a new video each week. And students should know that if something is important to them, they can always suggest it to us as a story and they might see it soon. I enjoy interactive content that is student focused, and that’s what Rambler Roundup is. We want to really embrace the community and give people a voice.
Is there anything else that you would like to add as we wrap up?
Tell the truth, be transparent, and at the end of the day, be kind. We just need genuineness and kindness and a sense of empathy in news. With Rambler Roundup, I always tell my anchors, be yourself. I know they are all kind and compassionate individuals, and I am so grateful to have them working at Rambler Roundup with me. I tell them it would not happen without their hard work. It’s a true team effort, and they are all incredible at what they do.