A Quick History of University Union Television since 1977

A Quick History of University Union Television since 1977

The platform, which has been dormant since 2004, returns as part of the organization’s media expansion efforts.
Published: October 25, 2022
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A UUTV flag from the organization's studio in the early 2000s.

On September 26th, University Union announced the return of University Union TV, or UUTV, bringing the TV station back on campus after 18 years. The organization hopes that the platform will give them the opportunity to showcase more behind-the-scenes elements of University Union and expand their media presence.

“It’s an exciting development, a blast from the past, if I may say so, bringing UU back to its roots and surpassing everything that’s come before it,” said Luke Berninger, the performing arts co-direct at University Union.

UUTV was first founded in 1977 as a board of University Union but ran autonomously. Tracing back to the time UUTV started to go on live, it became the primary television station on SU’s campus, located in a studio at Watson Theater. UUTV was first created as a major platform for entertainment broadcasting, focusing on parody skits and comedy shows. One example is  “Newswatch,which premiered in 1975 and was based on “Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update” segment. 

An archived picture of UUTV's control room.

Besides comedy shows, UUTV also covered music and sports through their production during the period. The popular music show calledThe Rhythm resonated with Z89, a platform featuring music and artist interviews from R&B, Rap, Reggae and Urban Contemporary music. Ran entirely by students, UUTV was aired on the city of Syracuse cable TV. They made the station a public access television channel with the help of the Syracuse cable TV.

Before 2004, UUTV was the only television station at Syracuse University known as the primary source at television broadcasting. In 2004, UUTV switched their name to HillTV and disaffiliated from University Union, later rebranding as CitrusTv.

In 2009, CitrusTV’s official Youtube channel posted, “Before CitrusTV, there was UUTV,” which is a 10 minute video tour of the University Union TV station which shows what UUTV was like over two decades ago.

Now, UUTV comes back as a major digital platform for University Union. According to Sam Johnston, the production director of University Union, UU wants to ensure more digital content to be part of the organization to the students, with the revival of UUTV being a big step towards that goal.

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University Union shows their new design for UUTV.

UUTV’s return video, “The Making of Juice Jam,” gives viewers a look behind the scenes of how University Union works on student events like Juice Jam and Bandersnatch. In the future, UU hopes to continue to focus on behind the scenes events with UUTV, allowing students to know more about the teams at University Union.

“In the years where University Union grew as an organization, it failed to grow within the organization on media platforms,” said Johnston, “I think for an organization that puts on such massive events, it’s definitely important to document this to show to students what their fellow students are doing to put on these shows.”

UU is also working on collaborating with other on-campus organizations that have recorded audio and video archives of University Union’s events in the 70s and 80s. What the production team in the organization wants to do is to remaster those archives contents and be able to put on UUTV to show the whole history of University Union.

The student organization also hopes to utilize the platform on UUTV to receive feedback from students. Linda Jiang, the marketing director of University Union, stressed on how they want to bring the events and artists that the student body really want to the campus.