One talk show, five different perspectives
By Jeannette Cruz
GCU News Bureau
It began with one student’s idea for a program that teens and young adults could watch to explore relevant topics and grow in their Christian faith.
That led four Grand Canyon University students to a television studio in their home state of New Mexico this summer. There, they produced AIM, a talk show targeted at a young adult demographic focusing on relevant and controversial issues from a Christian perspective.
Behind it all was GCU senior Tyler Franks, a native of Albuquerque with a desire to change his grandfather’s 25-year-old broadcasting program. Joining him were juniors Cathleen Daly and Marissa Canez and senior Kaylee Bachman.
With the help of his grandfather, creator of Alpha Omega Broadcasting in New Mexico, Franks began working for the company in 2011 to produce and reformat daily programs for the station and to design in-house sets. Still, he had a bigger vision, he said.
While Franks felt his heart was in New Mexico, his grandfather encouraged him to gain experience elsewhere and encouraged him to attend college out of state. If he did, his grandfather promised to pay for the first semester. And Franks did.
“I was so invested in the program and my grandpa was so proud that I wanted to stay and help, but he also knew that I needed to go somewhere new,” Franks said.
That’s how he found GCU.
Franks’ grandfather passed away that year after falling ill, but that didn’t stop Franks from attending the University. By his junior year, Franks’ experience with Alpha Omega Broadcasting had grown, and so had his relationship with Christ. That was when the idea for AIM came to mind.
“Even though I grew up a pastor’s kid, I learned about my faith at GCU,” Franks said. “So I knew that I wanted to create a show with a panel of up to five or six people who represented different walks of life, loved the same God and wanted to bring new conversations to a younger demographic,” Franks said.
Franks openly shared his thoughts for his show and looked for possible co-hosts within his peers and friends at GCU. He then went back to Albuquerque, where he designed and built a studio over the course of two months.
Then, after much thought, hard work and prayer, it all came together — from the full concept of the show, to the set, to the design and co-hosts. In fact, as if God knew just about everything he needed, Franks was surprised to learn that the three GCU co-hosts — like himself and a fourth co-host and friend, Daniel Aragon — were all Albuquerque natives.
Show content includes discussion of current events, devotions and fitness and healthy living demonstrations to interviews with local pastors and community members. Its name is based off the scripture Psalm 127:4, (“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.”), which speaks of the power of youth.
Daly, a communications major, was enthusiastic about the show’s concept.
“As soon as Tyler told me about his idea, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it,” she said.
The students arrived every day with coffee mugs, notes and new topics for discussion as they sat around a sectional sofa and wooden coffee table. They then raised questions, shared viewpoints and Bible passages and wrapped up the 30-minute show with a devotion.
Bachman, a pre-med and communications major, wasn’t sure how she would fit into the picture of broadcast, but once she began filming, she found that she could create conversations around difficult and controversial topics.
“In Christianity it’s very hard to bring those conversations forward so we really had to think about the way we approached them, and I think that the way we discussed those topics was very insightful and respectful,” she said.
Canez, the only non-communications major of the bunch and also the shyest, agreed.
“Being a part of this show made me realize that our generation really lacks the basis of truth, and as someone who is not very outspoken, that challenged me to come to terms with my beliefs and to share those thoughts with others,” she said.
In the first season of AIM, the students wrote and produced the 12 episodes of their regional talk show.
While filming meant being on set for four hours, Bachman said the energy in the room made time go unnoticed.
“We were so active, we were engaged and we were always talking, so that made it cool,” she said. “It’s kind of cheesy, but this was kind of our home for the summer.”
Franks appreciates the creativity, input and commitment of his co-hosts, he said. But, most important, he is proud to see his vision become a reality.
“I can only imagine how proud my grandfather would be. One thing I’ve learned about television is that your initial vision is not always how it comes out,” he said. “Looking back now, AIM was exactly what I wanted. When you have audience members reaching out to you to tell you how blessed they’ve been because of your show, there’s no bigger success.”
AIM is scheduled to return for a second season next year. Season one episodes are currently viewable in New Mexico, parts of Colorado and Arizona on channel 32 for Direct TV and on YouTube at KAZQ32 or streamed live at kazq32.org.
Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or firstname.lastname@example.org.