The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

That's a wrap


May 24, 2020

Kevin Wilson

KENW Producer/Director Allan Crawford gives directions between takes with Eastern New Mexico University Interim Chancellor Patrice Caldwell on Thursday morning at the KENW studios.

PORTALES - A Thursday drive through the Eastern New Mexico University campus looks like what May 21 would have had the COVID-19 pandemic never existed.

The campus would be nearly two weeks removed from in-person finals and commencement ceremonies at Greyhound Arena, and be just like any late May day at ENMU - largely empty with the exception of a few cars at administrative buildings and various colleges and a jogger or two.

But the pandemic is here, wiping out weeks of in-person instruction and the May 9 commencement ceremonies. That's why for KENW, Thursday morning saw a packed parking lot.

Inside the PBS station, at the corner of University Drive and Sesame Street, Thursday marked the second and final taping day of the university's adjusted plan to honor its 779 graduation candidates.

The hour-long commencement will air 10 a.m. Saturday on KENW 3-1 and 3-2 with a livestream accessible at

The main studio produces several programs, including the nationally syndicated "Creative Living" and the university's "Sports Look," though both are on pandemic-related hiatus. Director and producer Allan Crawford said filming a commencement isn't much different than a Sheryl Borden cooking segment or a Donald "Doc" Elder interview with a Greyhound athlete.

"Every one is the same for us in terms of planning," Crawford said. "It's all about pre-production. You make sure you think of everything, so when you're taping there aren't surprises."

The last few weeks has provided plenty to think about. John Houser, ENMU's assistant vice president for marketing and communications, sought commencement alternatives in March when it became apparent the normal ceremony at Greyhound Arena couldn't happen. His glance turned to KENW, where Crawford and station manager Duane Ryan helped him create numerous promotional videos.

For most commencements, Houser said, the registrar's office does most of the work and follows a format that's changed little over the years. This time, Houser needed buy-in from KENW, along with the registrar's office, student and faculty senates and numerous other departments.

"You have to work with a lot of different people to make sure this goes off successfully," Houser said. "This was a team effort at Eastern New Mexico University to pull this together."

Soon, KENW entered pre-production mode began and one question endured.

"How do you take an event," Crawford said, "turn it into a TV show, and not disrupt people who are used to the event?"

The on-camera talent Thursday included Interim Chancellor Patrice Caldwell, two vice presidents, four deans, undergraduate candidate Joseph Gergel and graduate candidate Adilene Adame. Each wore a mask and socially distanced behind the camera, and unmasked before entering the stage. Gergel represented each student receiving a degree, Adame each graduate student being hooded.

In front of the cameras, there were fixtures normally seen at Greyhound Arena every December and May - a white lectern with the university logo, green and silver flags denoting each college, two miniature greyhound statues and flowers from a local greenhouse.

Out of the cameras' lines of sight were various props - red, white and blue bunting used for candidate debates, a "hot set" warning sign bearing the signature of 2017 retiree Richard Rivera and Borden's "Creative Living" kitchen. A box of donuts on the kitchen island remained mostly full with everybody masked, and the refrigerator housed only a box of baking soda and Crawford's car keys. He picked up the habit years ago, since every house has a refrigerator and you can't lose your keys if you always put them there.

The crew ran everybody through the ceremony twice, and repeated smaller portions for different angles or do-overs on the rare fumbled line. In the control room, Crawford ran the board while student worker Landry Widner manned the teleprompter and Houser observed. Even with retakes, the "talent" was released in under 75 minutes, less than half of the morning block budgeted to be safe.

In the studio, senior Ryan Schroeder was one of two camera operators. He's still unsure of his future, having applied to nearly three dozen stations with a dream for sports but an open mind to any opportunity. As for the present, filming his own graduation ceremony was a nice final touch on a chaotic final semester.

"It was fun because I get to be behind the scenes, whereas all of the other students will be seeing it on computer screens," Schroeder said. "It's something I'll be able to talk about years from now."

Wednesday and Thursday footage, Houser said, will be combined with other pre-recorded segments and a closing slideshow of about 400 student-submitted photos.

"We're very lucky having Allan Crawford," Houser said. "He is very good to work with. So is Duane Ryan. I can't give them enough credit for what they did to help us. I think it will be very impressive when you compare it to other schools of our size."

Following the airing, the commencement will be archived at and DVD copies will be available from KENW for $15 shipped or $10 if picked up in person.


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