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Select area high schools given own channels to air programming

Over the last couple of years, many area fans have had the pleasure of watching their high school sports teams on television.

Santel Communications has created an opportunity for local schools to broadcast on their own local station. The company supplies the schools with the equipment and the students take it from there.

The idea was set up by Santel employee Greg McCurry, who was looking for a way to differentiate the company from its competitors.

"We started talking about how we could start getting some local events that our competitors couldn't get," McCurry said. "Having local content is something that our competitors just can't do."

Santel also offers its viewers games aired through Mitchell Telecom, a Santel subsidiary. Mitchell Telecom airs numerous Mitchell sporting events throughout the year.

Parkston was the first area school given its own channel in 2010, and McCurry said the impact was immediate.

"I've heard over and over that the community is more informed with the school," he said. "I think it's been a big win for the school."

When Parkston was given its channel, the school broadcasted home volleyball games. The basketball teams then had their home games aired live and last fall the football team had its home games shown.

"It's certainly good for community building," McCurry said. "I know that people are recording the games and it's created conversations over coffee about the teams."

After the success in Parkston, Santel branched out to other schools.

Over the last year, Tripp, Woonsocket and Wolsey-Wessington have gotten equipment in their schools.

McCurry said that besides live sporting events, the schools also show recorded events, class projects and slides of lunch menus and current events on the station.

The schools are given 24-hour control of the station.

Besides allowing the athletic teams to be in the limelight, McCurry said the setup also helps out with students who are not interested in athletics.

"There are kids in our schools that aren't into sports or music but want to be involved in something," he said. "When they get to use this technology, they really get to showcase their talents.

"It's really going to help the students, and it gives them one more thing to put their toe in and diversify their education."