Kyle Barker, ’19, was in the right place at the right time.
The Syracuse, N.Y., native was working as an intern with Niagara University’s athletic communications department when the university received a $1 million gift from 1966 alumnus Bill McKnight to upgrade its broadcast studio. The funds enabled the department to purchase equipment that would enable it to create content that met TV network production standards.
By the time Barker graduated with his sports management degree, the studio was ESPN-compatible, and the department was looking for someone to head a program which would give students the opportunity to produce broadcasts on the ESPN family of networks. Barker, who had worked on video projects for the athletics office and for the Niagara Power baseball team, was the obvious choice.
Now in his fifth year as the coordinator of broadcast and multimedia production, Barker is responsible for all aspects of the athletic department’s video content and game-day productions, including men's and women's basketball, men's and women's soccer, volleyball, women's lacrosse, and baseball on ESPN channels.
Barker also teaches a sports broadcasting class, giving his students the opportunity to work with him to gain practical experience as camera operators, technical directors, assistant directors, graphics producers, video and replay operators, and sideline reporters, working directly with ESPN staffers who oversee the broadcasts.
On Oct. 13, Barker and his students broadcast the men’s and women’s swim team opener against St. Bonaventure on ESPN+, a first-of-a-kind broadcast for Niagara and the MAAC.
“The ESPN swim broadcast was something I had wanted to do for a little while,” Barker said. “I enjoy pushing the boundary, and once we heard we would be the first MAAC school to tackle that (broadcast), I was all in.”
Barker and sports management major Michael Loss designed the setup and engineered it to be compatible with ESPN, working with the university’s IT department to meet network and internet requirements.
The night of the broadcast, Loss and fellow students Jack Branigan, Connor Novinsky, Maria Mayet-Franco, Matthew Foster, Shelia Strott, Ameilia Olander, Ethan Kuntz, and Cameron Muehlig assisted with the live feed, and alumni Frank Gallo, ’05, and Zoey Gavin, ’23, provided the play-by-play.
Barker noted that this valuable industry experience has enabled students to go on to work for productions with the Buffalo Bandits, the Rochester RedWings, the Buffalo Bisons, USA Hockey, NHL Officiating Combine, Globe Stream Media, My TV in Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y., high school football broadcasts on Fox, the Rochester Americans, MAAC conference championships, and Colgate Athletics.