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Perham media specialist gets live Yellowjacket sports on the web

Tom Tomporowski, library media specialist for the Perham-Dent school district, webcasts a recent wrestling match. Photo by Bob Williams.

Thanks to Tom Tomporowski, library media specialist for the Perham-Dent school district, anyone with Internet access can experience live Yellowjacket sports.

Tomporowski, who has worked for the district for 34 years, got the idea for webcasting events from Dave Howey with Lakes 99.5. Tomporowski takes care of the Perham High School auditorium and last fall Howey asked if he could try out webcasting live from the auditorium.

"I was intrigued," Tomporowski said.

He began to do his own experimenting with the school's equipment, then used a computer, microphone and video camera to air Yellowjacket sports live over the Internet.

"Just as anyone with a computer and Internet access can create a blog, so can anyone with a camera and a microphone broadcast over the Internet," he said.

He uses a free service called UStream. He simply hooks the audio and video equipment to a laptop.

Last year, Tomporowski even did his own commentary during the events. That changed this year.

"I would be manipulating the camera and talking about what was happening," he said. "I was trying to do everything, and sometimes when you try to do everything, you don't do it too well."

That changed this year with a partnership between the school district and Lakes 99.5.

Tomporowski now runs a cable from the radio to the laptop during games so when Lakes 99.5 is broadcasting, those watching the webcast can also hear the radio broadcast.

To watch the webcasts, spectators should visit, where they are directed to the webcast.

The opportunity to do this not only benefits the radio station and school district with advertising revenue, it's also a community service, Tomporowski said.

Coaches and the athletic director for the Perham district contact visiting teams to let their communities know about the webcasting.

"It's a community service," Tomporowski said. "Plus it helps give our community a good name when we can provide that service to visiting communities."

Superintendent Tamara Uselman said that the response to webcasting home events has been positive.

"There is much community and business support," Uselman said. "He [Tomporowski] is not one for personal limelight but what he has created is a great service at nearly no cost. It is an inexpensive and awesome thing."

Tomporowski gave examples of people using the service. He webcasted the high school's graduation ceremony this spring as requested by a student's family. The grandparents of a wrestler that lives three to four hours away and can't drive in winter also watch the webcasts. Also, a former Yellowjacket wrestler now in the Army now watches matches from his barracks in Arkansas.

UStream also has a chat feature, so those watching can get involved.

"It's kind of fun to watch," Tomporowski said. "It provides more entertainment value."

While the service has been popular, Tomporowski said that the system isn't without glitches. He said there is occasional buffering and audio problems.

"As technology gets better the problems will subside," he said. "People who watch webcasting shouldn't think it's the same quality as watching a National Football League game on Sunday."

Even though Tomporowski isn't paid for webcasting events, he hopes to get students involved in the future. He said it would be a great way to teach them a skill and provide experience that will look great on a resume.