Lessons learned from Sauna Sessions

By Josh Alfrey and Kevin Bartelt

As a writer, effective communication is vital to connecting to the student body.

Kevin Bartelt and I emulated this through our entertaining video blog. “Sauna Sessions” was created six weeks ago to put a comedic spin on the latest news at NIU.

This video blog was inspired by a simple conversation Kevin and I had in the sauna at University Plaza. We jokingly toyed with the idea of filming our conversations and making a video blog. Hours later, Kevin texted me letting me know the blog was approved by the editor in chief of the Northern Star, Kelly Bauer.

The first episode was definitely a pilot episode: All we had was poor lighting, an iPhone camera and little preparation. We soon realized we had a lot to learn. Fortunately, the first episode was still appreciated by fans and we knew we had to continue the series.

Kevin and I agreed to spend a couple hours each week prepping for the show. Doing a vlog is similar to working as a college newspaper writer. We spent hours on NIU’s website and various entertainment websites to find humorous material.

Whenever we found a potential story Kevin and I would throw jokes back and forth for several minutes before finally choosing one. We agreed if we couldn’t make each other laugh, it wasn’t worthy for the show. In addition, we tried out jokes with various groups of friends to see if we could make them laugh. After a lot of preparation, Kevin’s bed lamp and an HD camera, “Sauna Sessions” made a steady progression in both production and content.

One of the first lessons we learned about making Sauna Sessions is you can’t expect success immediately, so if you are thinking about making a vlog with friends just remember this: It takes time, dedication and an openness to change to keep a show going. If we were able to give ourselves and our audience a laugh we would consider it a successful show.

Without knowing how to truly close an episode, Kevin and I decided to take a “Late Night” talk show approach to our video blog. Assuming only one person would fill the role as musical guest was a mistake. Four episodes into the series, we introduced our first musical guest, The Wandering Lights. With The Wandering Lights having five musicians and the Huskie Hunks bringing in eight singers, the sauna was always jam packed with musical talent.

Whether interviewing Student Association presidential candidates or having a 10-second synopsis about Bad Girls Club, Kevin and I always enjoyed developing Sauna Sessions into what it is today. We look forward to creating even better episodes next semester. Remember if you want to create your own vlog all it takes is some jokes, good lighting, a decent camera and local talent. Good night, Huskies.