Duke Union Community Television

Duke Union Community Television
Durham, North Carolina
Branding Cable 13
Slogan Turn on. Tune in. Watch Duke.
Channels Analog: 13
Owner Duke University
Founded 1976
Website www.cable13.com

Duke Union Community Television (Cable 13) is the Student television station[1] at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Cable 13 functions as a portion of the Duke University Union[2] and is one of the first [3][4] all student-run television stations in the nation. Founded in 1976 by Duke seniors Jed Daly and David Frey, who raised an initial budget of $20,000 from the Sloan Foundation,[5] Cable 13 students have gone on to win four Telly Awards for "excellence in college broadcasting." Although Duke offers no major in communications and Cable 13 has been moderately funded, it was the largest student-run television station in the United States at least until 2003.[3]

Today approximately 100 students work for Cable 13.[6]

In the summer of 2010, Cable 13 was redesigned into a multimedia broadcasting network, and it was renamed Duke Student Broadcasting. The network currently broadcasts multimedia content at www.dukestudentbroadcasting.com.


Cable 13 in its first years shot with borrowed equipment and broadcast in black and white. Its early offerings included a Jimmy Buffett performance at Cameron Indoor Stadium, a performance by the Grateful Dead and several live feeds of Duke basketball games. Competing with five other channels at Duke, Cable 13 attracted a segment of the student audience.[3]

The station was transformed when Walter Deane, class of 1984, became its President. Deane opened new studios on the main quad of the West Campus and in the new Bryan Center, in addition to renovating the Old Chemistry space. A seven-day-a-week nightly news show was initiated, with Bill Love and Doug Davis as anchors. Gavin Sasson was the weatherman, who developed quite a campus following. A daily live exercise program was also debuted, known as Tiffany's Hour. Mollie Fitzgerald's Cable Cooking was also developed, and included segments filmed in President Terry Sanford's home. Alice Babcock and Rachel Frankle pioneered the Arts Expo series, in which they covered Duke and Durham, including an interview with Kenneth Noland. Robert Levitan's Late Night was known throughout the campus, and included a studio audience, for which tickets were required. Deane also did a monthly interview program, with Sanford, Chancellor Brody, Dean Wasolick, Dean Griffiths, football coach Red Wilson, basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and others as guests. A 3D film festival was the first to be on a cable station in the US at the time, with glasses provided in every Chronicle issue. With all of the added hours, Duke basketball and football continued to be covered, with live broadcasts of soccer and lacrosse brought to the station's lineup. Many days had as much as twelve hours of original programming, with a potential audience of nearly 40,000, between the University students, faculty, administrators and the entire hospital complex.

In the mid-1990s Cable 13's soap opera Ivy Tower won numerous awards and was picked up by other college stations.[3] Ivy Tower (produced by Stephen Zapotoczny, producer of 'We Were Soldiers') was broadcast by over 60 college stations in the nation in 1995.

In 1995, Cable 13 renovated its facilities and began using the television broadcasting industry's standard digital equipment. As a result, ESPN and Jefferson Pilot Sports asked Cable 13 to provide sporting-event highlights, and the National Association of College Broadcasting called Cable 13 a "model station."[7]

Dan Abrams, the chief legal correspondent for NBC News, former host of The Abrams Report, and the current General Manager of MSNBC, anchored occasional newscasts aired on Cable 13 when he was at Duke.[8]

Sports Illustrated reporter Seth Davis[9] (also one of three in-studio hosts for March Madness along with Greg Gumbel and Clark Kellogg) and ESPN's Jay Bilas have produced and hosted shows for Cable 13. Many celebrities have appeared on Cable 13, including Adam Sandler, Kevin Nealon and Mike Krzyzewski.

In 2005, Duke's University Archives began to house all of Cable 13's early programming and documentation, including video tapes and news clippings. The tapes include interviews with William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Terry Sanford, as well as cultural and sporting events.[10] Programming after 1982 is still housed on site at Cable 13.

Cable 13 celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2006. Led by Orcun Unlu, the student-run TV station began a three-year project called the "Winds of Change", which included recruitment, marketing, design of the current logo and website, switch to 24/7 programming, free blockbuster movies, new equipment, and total revamp of the studios to meet current technology demands.[11]

In 2009, the student-run TV station began hosting a House Course for academic credit, catering to students interested in television production. The course, taught by Stephanie Shyu, saw the re-design of the studio into a newsroom with a custom news set and resulted in a live weekly newscast that aired on the channel.[12]

Recent presidents


  1. CBI College TV Links. College Broadcasters, Inc.
  2. Duke University Union. Duke University Union
  3. 1 2 3 4 Feature: Cable Thirteen. The Chronicle. 30 January 2003.
  4. TV station looks to enhance reputation with new shows. The Chronicle. 16 November 2005.
  5. I want my CABLE 13. The Chronicle. 18 September 1996.
  6. Struggling Cable 13 seeks to modernize. The Chronicle. 11 February 2008.
  7. Cable 13 receives national recognition as model station. The Chronicle. 31 August 1995.
  8. Alumni profile: The Report on Abrams. The Chronicle. 22 June 2006.
  9. Out of the Ordinary. The Chronicle. 21 November 2002.
  10. Inventory of the Cable 13 Videotapes, 1976 - 1982, Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University
  11. DSG talks music, movie exchange. The Chronicle. 19 October 2006.
  12. Duke News: Campus and Community Through the Camera Lens Fall 2009 Syllabus.
  13. Student News Goes On Air. Duke Office of News and Communications. 3 December 2002.
  14. Orcun Unlu's Profile on Duke Student Link
  15. Duke University Union on Duke Student Link

External links

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