DARIEN—Last year, the Darien Athletic Foundation took a leap of faith.
It hired Damian Andrew, who spent 11 years as News 12 Connecticut’s sports anchor, to help create a streaming service focused on broadcasting Darien athletic events.
One year and 135 broadcasts later, that leap is going as better than they could have predicted.
“The feedback was overwhelmingly positive,” Andrew said. “And I think our mission, as it was told to me by the Darien Athletic Foundation when we started this, was to create a PBS model in Darien, only using new-age technology. And I think we are on to something.”
Andrew had volunteers from adults around the town, as well as students that were interested in broadcast journalism and production.
“I think it was a win-win for everybody,” Andrew said. “The organization obviously throughout the course of the school year continued to evolve and gain momentum. By the end of the year, we had done live streams at about 135 events and not just sporting events, we did the Darien Memorial Day Parade, we did Darien’s Got Talent, we did the Darien High School and middle school graduation ceremonies, we did concerts.”
The interest was immediate, as was the impact on the students. They’re what drives DAF Media, and educating them is just as important to the DAF and Andrew as the actual streams.
“We had close to 30 kids involved in some way, shape or form in year one,” Andrew said. “Obviously we lose some kids to graduation, they’re moving on, but I see us growing that number as we move forward. I couldn’t have been happier with the young adults who were involved in DAF Media in year one. We had young youth volunteers who are interested in broadcasting, interested in graphic design, interested in some aspect of what is needed to put on these live streams and then we had volunteers who were thrilled to be a part of something new and exciting.”
For the broadcasts themselves, Andrew handled the play-by-play duties, but finding color commentators forced him to think outside the box.
He did so by securing parent volunteers, youth program heads and Darien coaches with knowledge of multiple sports.
Once playoffs rolled around, Andrew reached further to include established coaches from other towns in the broadcasts.
“For me, and for the DAF, it is incredibly important to be impartial for the sporting events,” Andrew said. “It’s something positive, we want to keep it positive, we want to keep it neutral while doing our commentary. So, I thought it would be a good idea, especially as the games got more meaningful in the playoffs, to bring in guest commentators who were not from Darien or the team Darien was playing and we got a lot of positive feedback about that and I thought that ended up working out very well.”
What DAF Media accomplished over the last year was just the tip of the iceberg. The platform will continue to evolve, and Andrew wants to evolve along with it.
“I want to grow the student base that’s involved in the organization,” he said. “We would like to do more during the live streams. In other words, we’d like to have interviews, features at halftime, do halftime interviews. We did a little bit of that in year one, I’d like to see more of that, more bells and whistles in the live streams. We’d like to grow our graphics package so that we can do more with graphics during the live stream. We really touched on all of these things in year one, now it’s just the idea of growing it a little bit more.”