Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Streaming from Austin

"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College (www.panola.edu) in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce. 

Twice in a three-week period the Texas State Historical Association has provided me with a new experience in electronic communication. I worked for 35 years in radio, broadcasting Panola College baseball games over KGAS Radio in Carthage. I was the “Voice of Pony Baseball,” and sometimes I provided play-by-play for Pony and Fillie basketball games. For two decades I also broadcast high school football games. Because I write books of Western history, I have been a “talking head” on TV documentaries over TBS, The History Channel, The Learning Channel, A&E, CMT, and, most recently, The American Heroes Channel. During my four years as State Historian of Texas I’ve done a number of interviews for local radio and TV newscasts across the state.
With Director Caitlin McColl

But I’ve never “streamed.” Since last September, the Texas State Historical Association has livestreamed to TSHA members seven one-hour Texas history programs, "Webinars" featuring such notable authorities as Dr. Frank de la Teja, the first State Historian who delivered the initial program, and, most recently, Dr. Gregg Cantrell who spoke on Stephen F. Austin. The historian speaks on a subject for 45 minutes, followed by a 15-minute Question and Answer session, based on responses delivered on-line during the presentation period. In charge of this program is Caitlin McColl, TSHA Digital Education Programs Manager. During the rehearsal and streaming sessions, Caitlin functions as Director. The Assistant Director is Brianna McCabe Alldridge; Maddie Dimayuga is the Camera Operator; John Jackson is the Livestream Operator; and Esther Rivera is the Chatroom Manager.
For my first Webinar event Caitlin asked me to present my program on “Gunfighting in Texas,” which has proved to be quite popular. Indeed, more than 1,000 TSHA members signed up to receive this session, scheduled for Monday evening, May 16. Karon and I arrived at TSHA headquarters at four o’clock, and I brought my bag of weapons and gun rigs inside. Caitlin showed us around and introduced us to the crew. The crew members were young and bright, enthusiastic and tech-savvy. We went through a rehearsal of my 45-minute presentation, which allowed crew members to become familiar with my props. In turn, I became accustomed to their methods of production, and to the best ways of demonstrating my props.
Learning to "chat" for the Q&A

Afterward we had a light supper in the TSHA break room, and Karon – who has heard the program a number of times – discussed with me several ways to improve my presentation. A little before seven o’clock we all took our places and I was miked by John Jackson. I was able to inject a high energy level into the program presentation and, with a few alterations that Karon and I agreed upon, I finished at 7:45. We broke for only a moment or two, and I was brought a list of some of the questions that were pouring in (by the time that Karon and I returned home on Tuesday, Caitlin had forwarded over 300 questions or responses to my email).
With Steve Cure (left) and Brian Bolinger

Three weeks later, on Monday, June 6, we returned to Austin, arriving at TSHA headquarters at three o’clock in the afternoon. The program was scheduled for six, so rehearsal and supper times were moved up one hour. For this session Caitlin asked me to talk about the Alamo and San Jacinto, two spectacular battles which were fought 41 days apart in the spring of 1836 – 180 years ago.

Texas Historical Foundation donation
Following our rehearsal period, Karon and I were escorted to the TSHA conference room. TSHA Executive Director Brian Bolinger was present, and so was Stephen Cure, Chief Operating Officer. Special guests were board members of the Texas Historical Foundation, who presented a check for $5,000 to the "Texas Talks Webinar Series." The THF has raised and donated $1.3 million to 240 Texas History projects, including the preservation of historic buildings, the sponsorship of archaeological research, the preservation of archives and photographs, and sponsorship of history education efforts. No tax money is involved, and THF activities include publication of the Texas Heritage Magazine. The Texas State Historical Association has funded the first eight Texas Talks Webinars, and with the $5,000 THF donation the TSHA will be able to fund Webinars through the end of this year.
Again under the direction of Caitlin
Afterward we all enjoyed a light supper. The Alamo and San Jaciinto Webinar began at six o'clock, and I had a great time recounting these two celebrated battles. For the last ten minutes or so I responded to questions that were emailed to the TSHA offices. I signed off by complimenting the excellent crew, and mentioned the next Texas Talks, which will be livestreamed in August from picturesque Fort McKavett. I can't wait to watch.
Lining up my diagram of the Alamo with the camera

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