The extravagant stage, lighting and multiple camera shots often surprise the bands partaking in WKAR-TV’s “BackStage Pass,” a monthly series dedicated to showcasing an array of local musicians.

“There is some video of us out there, but nothing that is this professional,” said bassist Dominic Sutchyta, whose band Steppin’ In It recently recorded a set for the series.

Sutchyta called the set-up “breathtaking.” “They had a green room backstage, where they had a TV of what was happening on-stage,” Sutchyta said. “Rachel (a Steppin’ In It vocalist) was singing an a cappella song, and I started taking pictures of the TV screen.It’s just an incredible set.”

The shows being taped this spring and summer are tentatively scheduled to air in September as part of the series’ second season. Season One included such local favorites as Root Doctor and the MSU Professors of Jazz.

Tim Zeko, executive producer for WKAR, said the show features more than just music.

“It is live performance programming with an opportunity to meet the artists and get a bit of background in terms of who they are, how they got started in music, why they gravitated toward their particular genre of music and even the instrument they enjoy playing,” he said.

Keeping the program fresh is also a priority, Zeko said. “The design of the series is not to focus specifically on one genre of music,” Zeko explained. “We want it to be somewhat eclectic. You could tune in one month and see jazz, the next month R&B, folk or opera.”

Zeko said the format of the filming is a lengthy process. “On Tuesdays we’ll bring the band in and record the rehearsals,” Zeko said. “The idea is for our camera operators and lighting design folks to get a chance to listen to the music and the directors get a chance to react and plan out shots.

“Wednesday afternoon I will do an interview with the group, spend 45 minutes to an hour talking with them, which we will cull six to eight minutes of that into the program. The Wednesday afternoon performance is our last opportunity to get it right, on tape.”

The show also offers a small audience the opportunity to see a free show in an intimate setting. While a portion of the performances for next season have already been taped, Zeko said those interested in the show are still able to come see it in action. Free passes to watch the taping of the show are available through June 17.

BackStage Pass taping schedule

12 & 13: Huckleberry Groove May 19 & 20: Jen Sygit and Spare
Change June 9 & 10: Orquestra Ritmo June 16 & 17: MSU Voice
Faculty Quartet Audience member check-in ends at 6:30 p.m. FREE,
reservations required 24 hours in advance (517) 432-WKAR