UF’s Gator Band was featured on America’s Got Talent (AGT) on June 13 on NBC with 12.7 million viewers.
The show, broadcast every Tuesday at 8-10 p.m. EST, is hosted by Tyra Banks with celebrity judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandell and Mel B.
John M. “Jay” Watkins, Jr., the Gator Bands Director, said the show contacted him in December 2016. AGT had a concept to do something with a college marching band and they wanted to work with UF.
“It was chance to showcase the band and university,” Watkins said.
The band filmed hours of footage in UF’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in January 2017 the day before spring classes started. Their segment ended up being the episode’s introduction. Because of the shows policy, the band couldn’t actually see anything that was filmed.
“We really had no idea what was going to be on,” Watkins said.
The Gator Band also sent a smaller group of students, including the band’s section leaders, to film other shots in Jacksonville. The students can be seen signing up for auditions and in the background of the first few episodes.
“During the course of show you see students in a holding room,” Watkins said.
The filming process also provides an opportunity for the students to see what goes into producing a TV show.
“There are so many different takes and angles,” Watkins said. “They’re getting a sense of the production side.”
Watkins, entering his 12th year as the band’s director, said his favorite part of his job is working with all the different students, from first years to graduates and all different majors.
“It's a great diverse group of students,” Watkins said.
To see the Gator Band’s performance, check their Facebook page.