UNC-TV launches its first original web series

Article Published: May. 8 | Modified: May. 22
UNC-TV launches its first original web series

North Carolina’s only statewide public television network, UNC-TV, recently collaborated with PBS Digital Studios and Beat Making Lab as part of a groundbreaking project that brings laptops and music production lessons to teenagers across the globe.

The result of the partnership is Beat Making Lab’s first U.S.-based edition of the web series and the first such foray into original, online content distribution for UNC-TV. The three-part episode, focusing on Beat Making Lab’s home base in North Carolina’s Triangle area of Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh, premiered May 7, 2014, online at http://www.unctv.org/content/beatmaking. The series continues on May 14 and concludes on May 21.

The Beat Making Lab concept originated at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when the university’s music department chairman Mark Katz invited local producer Stephen “Apple Juice Kid” Levitin to one of his classes as a guest lecturer.

They developed a full blown music production class in the fall of 2011. In the spring of 2012, local emcee and arts activist Pierce Freelon (of hip hop/jazz group The Beast) joined the class as co-instructor. Within a few months, the idea of creating an IndieGoGo campaign to fund an international Beat Making Lab in the Democratic Republic of Congo was born. The success of that project, launched on YouTube in 2012, led to a collaboration with PBS Digital Studios in 2013 that funded trips to other locations, including Senegal, Panama, Fiji and Ethiopia.

Beat Making Lab provides students with the basic tools to begin making music by using a laptop, a mic and music production software — all provided for free. Students are encouraged to sample the sounds of their own neighborhoods and to use these sounds in their music productions.

“Making music is like making life,” said Kalil Davis, a Chapel Hill Beat Making Lab student featured in the series. “You tell people a story about your life through music, and you actually touch people.”

Additional Beat Making Lab episodes from other visits can be found at http://www.youtube.com/user/beatmakinglab.

“The educational and community focus of this project fits well with the mission of UNC-TV,” said Shannon Vickery, UNC-TV’s director of production, “and this series represents an important step forward for us as an organization.”

UNC-TV provides people of all ages with a distinctive array of programs and services, including four digital channels: flagship UNC-TV; UNC-EX The Explorer Channel; UNC-KD The Kids Channel; and UNC-MX The Eclectic Mix Channel (available on digital cable only).

UNC-TV’s 12 stations comprise North Carolina’s only statewide television network, made possible through a unique partnership of public investment and private support. For more information, visit unctv.org.

PBS Digital Studios is working with dozens of PBS member stations to develop local web originals for YouTube and other digital platforms that extend their work beyond broadcast. The PBS Digital Studios network of more than 30 web originals is available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/pbsdigitalstudios.

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