Late Night Comes to Pitt – WPTS NEWS
It started two years ago with one text. Jesse Irwin, the host and creator of Pitt Tonight, texted his friend, Mason Lazarcheff, that he wanted to bring late night television to the University of Pittsburgh. Lazarcheff is now a producer and editor of the show. Irwin had just transferred from Penn State to Pitt, where he now broadcasts for WPTS Sports, writes for the Pitt News, acts for UPTV, and is a brother of Kappa Sigma, among various other activities, like being an Uber driver.
The jack-of-all-trades started concrete work on his dream of hosting a late night show in May of 2015 when he talked to Chancellor Gallagher backstage at an event he was hosting. By the beginning of the 2015 fall semester, it was an official club at the university. Irwin and Lazarcheff put flyers around campus and advertised on campus televisions, promoting their first meeting. Pitt Tonight’s first meeting attracted nearly forty people, the majority of which kept coming back. They created different teams for writing, productions, marketing, and got together a house band to play for the shows, led by Colin Grant. Other the past couple of weeks, you could see their signature moon with the Pitt Tonight logo all over social media, drawing attention to the show, creating anticipation. They went to the Student Government Board Allocations Committee and were allocated funds so they could start getting props for the show and purchasing equipment, if they did not already have it. Various groups on campus lent Irwin supplies: WPTS lent microphones, UPTV members helped film, they used the library equipment, and the theatre department lent a space to film.
Irwin wanted to bring late night to Pitt because he loves talking to people and he “loves journalism and storytelling because you get to experience so many different things.” He loves “it because you get to leave people smiling and laughing before they fall asleep.” With Pitt Tonight, he has the opportunity to bring together people, who otherwise would not have known each other, like his first guests Ophelia from Market Central and Chancellor Gallagher.
The University of Pittsburgh does not have a broadcasting or journalism major. Irwin hopes that Tonight will create an emphasis on broadcast media at Pitt and give people with a passion for media a place to build upon their passion and get experience. Much like other major organizations at Pitt, he hopes to see this continue past his graduation in two years. After the first show, he realized that hosting a late night show is exactly what he wants to do for the rest of his life. Jesse Irwin is an entertainer at heart. His charisma and dedication made a show that will bring together the largest university in Pittsburgh. In ten years, he sees himself hosting a late night show on cable television.
The first show sold out in ten hours. It had two a cappella groups perform, an appearance by the Oakland Zoo, and a game of giant corn hole between the Chancellor and Ophelia. The next show could be filmed towards the end of January. Looking forward, they want to restructure to create better organization and encourage people who want to be involved to reach out to them at pitttonight.com.
The Pitt Tonight crew has only filmed one show, but it is already a success. With the support of the university, a crew of dedicated students, and a host who shows no sign of stopping, another sold out show would not be a surprise.
Written by Charlotte Goldbach for WPTS News.