ATU Television Provides Public Service With Debate

ATU Television Debate Coverage 4-7-2022
A look inside the Arkansas Tech University television studio control room on the night of the Arkansas House of Representatives District 53 debate.

Broadcast journalism students at Arkansas Tech University provided technical and logistical support for an April 7 debate among candidates to represent District 53 in the Arkansas House of Representatives.

The debate, which was sponsored and presented by local news outlet River Valley Now, took place in the ATU television studio at the Energy Center.

“The ATU journalism program performed a valuable service to the community by broadcasting this debate,” said Dr. David J. Eshelman, head of the ATU Department of Communication and Journalism and professor of communication. “For our democracy to thrive, voters must have the information that they need to make informed decisions. It can be especially difficult to find information about state and local elections, which are less publicized than national elections. Our broadcast students showed themselves to be journalists in the best sense of the word by making sure that this debate went on without a hitch. I am proud of their hard work and grateful that they can gain this valuable experience.”

ATU students who worked on the debate broadcast inlcuded Anna Belle Stout of Beebe (technical director), Chris Morgan of Bryant (graphics designer/operator), Quinten Carroll of Sherwood (audio engineer), Damara Hale of Fayetteville (video playout operator), Kyler Swaim of Fort Smith (floor director), Doug Davis of Ozark (floor director), Ryley Welcher of Morrilton (teleprompter operator) and Dakota Flynn of Van Buren (assistant moderator).

“This was different because it felt more like a real production,” said Flynn when asked to compare the debate project to other ATU television broadcasts. “We had makeup and lots of people in the studio and control room…more than usual. It was also the first time we had some important people running for office in the studio since I’ve been here at ATU. I think this experience will help me with my future career because I am interested in politics. I think having this experience on my resume will help me with my goal of being a political correspondent.”

ATU student Kyndal Atkinson of Springdale, under the direction of Frances Roberson from the ATU theatre faculty, served as make-up artist for the debate.

ATU broadcast journalism students are supported and mentored by Christie Kellar, coordinator of broadcast production, broadcast production specialist and visiting lecturer of journalism in the ATU Department of Communication and Journalism.

An archived broadcast of the debate between candidates Matt Duffield, David Howell and Doug Skelton is available at