Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Students of USM: Aaron Damon

Posted on April 14, 2016 in Community
By USM Free Press

Meaghan Gonsior

Byline: Meaghan Gonsior, Free Press Staff

On any given Thursday night, fourth year Media Studies major Aaron Damon can be found volunteering his time and talent with Portland’s Community Television Network (CTN). The CTN provides an open platform for free speech, a meeting place for creative discussion, classes to learn the skills to create quality video and a venue to practice them in.

Damon directs the network’s Turnstyle Thursday open mic show, where he runs the master controller, an operating board that allows him to edit live TV in real time. “I watch the show and tell the cameraman what shots to get,” Damon explains.

Turnstyle Thursday performances run the gamut from beatnik, to local singer-songwriters and five-piece rock bands. The show’s vibe is very light-hearted, open and humorous, with performers often inviting audience members to join in. Many return to the stage week after week, creating a relaxed sense of community.

“Sometimes the show gets weird,” Damon admits, adding that the show is adult-themed. “We’ve had a Christian Shaman before. He offered LSD to everyone… he was very relaxed.”

Every week is a unique experience, which Damon masterfully edits live with crossfades, dissolves, and other special effects that enhance the viewing experience. Archived episodes can be viewed at the CTN website.

“One regular act is the Campfire Cowboy. Every time he goes up he teaches a lesson from his cowboy tales,” Damon explained. “If you ever watch the show, you’ll recognize your bagger from Hannaford or the cashier from Rite Aid. We have people here you see around town and wouldn’t realize have these really awesome skills.”

After a year directing Turnstyle Thursday shows together, Damon’s crew continues to work like a well-oiled machine. “We all know each other really well, so the videographers often change the shot without me having to direct them.”

Damon can’t remember a time when he wasn’t exploring technology. He originally planned to major in Computer Science like his older brother, but he switched over to Media Studies two years ago when he saw the opportunity to have fun while making a living. When asked what attracted him to USM, the Belgrade native laughed.

“Honestly, because they don’t check your SAT scores,” he joked. Despite a rough time with the SAT’s, he was accepted into USM’s Russell Scholar program when he entered USM four years ago. The program offers the same curriculum as other USM courses, but students live and take classes in a unique community setting in Russell Hall. Damon considers his time spent as a Russell Scholar to be valuable. The instant learning community that the program fosters helped keep him on track as freshman.

“You don’t want to disappoint your friends by not showing up to class,” Damon added.

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