David Crossley

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I am the person who started York Student TV in 1967.

The original idea for student involvement in TV production came from a lecturer in the Education Department at York whose name I now forget. I was a Biology and Education student who had recently taken over the running of the student filmmaking activity that was then part of the Drama Society. The Education Department had just acquired some early video equipment, together with three technicians to run it, and essentially didn't know what to do with it. The lecturer suggested to me that I should organise a group of students to put together a university TV news programme to make use of the video equipment.

The whole thing took off from there and developed into a student film and TV production group that I arranged to become an official student society recognised by the then Students Representative Council. The society was originally called 'York University Tele-Film Productions' - a clumsy name I invented that lasted less than a year and bit the dust when the filmmaking activity was hived off into a separate society.

I initially gathered together a group of about 10 people, mainly through a society stall at the beginning of the first term in October 1967 (an early manifestation of the event now known as Freshers Fair). The group met every Monday evening in the little meeting room overlooking the Langwith dining room (is it still there?). At these meetings we discussed ideas for the weekly 'news magazine' TV programme we called 'Newsround', wrote some scripts and generally had fun. Script writing was made easier because a couple of our members (not me) could type - not a common skill among university students in the late 1960s. One member actually owned a portable typewriter which we used extensively. This was Sieta Rijkelijkhuizen who later became station director and who, like me, now lives in Australia.

We produced 'Newsround' every Tuesday afternoon in the 'studio' in the basement of the Chemistry building. We had two cameras on wheeled tripods and a very primitive vision switching device which may have been 'home-made' by the three University technicians, led by the senior technical officer Bruce Pears, who were responsible for the operation and maintenance of the video equipment. Camera operation and vision switching (such as it was) was done mainly by students and sometimes by the University technicians.

The first two or three "Newsrounds' were pre-recorded. I remember watching the first one in the Langwith common room surrounded by our production team and a couple (only) of curious students. We soon moved to live programmes which made the whole production process much more exciting.

YSTV was actually very important to my personal and professional development. It gave me my first experience of starting an organisation from scratch - I've started several others during the last 40 years. At YSTV I also gained my first experience of leading and managing a team of people. I'm very grateful to that initial group who put up with my inexperience and enabled me to learn a great deal.

I now live in Sydney and have been in Australia for 40 years - I arrived here after graduating from York in 1968. I initially came to Australia to do a PhD but dropped out of that one. I then became, for four years, an educational TV producer at a university in Sydney - the only job in which I used my experience with YSTV. I did get a PhD several years later, spent some time working for government, and now run my own consultancy company providing advice on energy and environmental policy and programs.

I visit the UK about once a year to see my father (who's now 91) and my sister who live near Manchester. It's possible that I could travel to York during one of these visits if any YSTV people are interested in talking with me. I'd certainly be interested to see where YSTV has got to, 40 years later. I'm actually very proud that my baby survived all this time and is still going strong.

David Crossley March 2008 Email: crossley@efa.com.au