Community/Public Access/PEG TV News Alerts!

Community/Public Access/PEG TV News Alerts!

New TV Studios For Springfield Public Access Programmers

  • Posted on: 15 July 2014

New TV Studios For Springfield Public Access Programmers

Public access television—famously skewered on Saturday Night Live and elsewhere—is no joke in one western Massachusetts

When the newly formed Focus Springfield Community Television officially unveiled a brand new $1 million state-of-the-art programming facility on the ground floor of one of the city’s most historic buildings, dozens of local dignitaries took part in the grand opening.

The region’s Congressman and the city’s mayor helped cut the ceremonial ribbon to open the 7,000- square foot center from which three public access channels originate.

Congressman Richard Neal lauded public access television as a vital part of participatory democracy.

" The emphasis is on the term community and that means hearing and airing all sorts of opinions. In the time of the 24-hour news cycle having longer conversations about events would be a good idea for all of us."

The new public access television hub includes professional grade digital video and audio equipment, five editing suites, a modern control room, a “green room” for guests, and a studio with space to seat up to 100 people for performances, town hall-style meetings or political debates.

The operation is funded with about $800,000 annually from the city’s cable television contract with Comcast. A new 10-year contract was signed in 2012.

Station Manager Stephen Cary, one of four paid staffers, said familiar programming such as city council and school committee meetings will continue, along with the staples of public access – the talk and religious shows. He said Focus Springfield plans to develop its own programming.

" We are really excited to find people with good stories and see little threads of life that go on in the city that often don't get any exposure. And that is the biggest thing we are excited about is to let those stories be told and teach people and give them the digital tools to share those stories."

Springfield residents who want to produce local programming can take how-to classes at no charge and receive some mentoring from the Focus Springfield staff.

Ayanna Crawford, a teacher in the Springfield public schools, said she’s been recording an interview show and distributing it on YouTube for a couple of years, and now plans to bring the production to the new public access studios in front of a live audience.

" I am taking a leap of faith. Living out a dream. I've also wanted to produce a show that reflects the positive things in this beautiful city I was born and raised in."

Public access television debuted in Springfield in 1980 at facilities housed in the downtown offices of Continental Cablevision. Mayor Domenic Sarno remembers those early days.

" We were hanging out the fifth floor window of Continental Cablevision on Main Street in the South End televising the annual Columbus Day parade. We've come a long way to this state-of-the-art studio here."

The new studio is on the ground floor of an eight-story office building that was built by MassMutual as their home office in 1908. The space had been vacant for a number of years.

There are 15-foot high windows in the new facility that look out at the intersection of Main and State Streets and allow passersby to look in. The lobby includes a gallery for multi-media displays.

Chicago's CAN-TV Fulfills Its Public Mission with Help from CARTONI:

Public access broadcaster relies on the Cartoni P 090 for versatility and ease of use in producing public interest programmin DMN Newswire--2014-7-1--
The Chicago Access Network (CAN-TV) operates five public access television stations reaching more than a million viewers in the Chicago metropolitan area. Recently, the non-profit organization began the process of remodeling its 30-year-old studios and one of its first steps was to replace its outdated camera pedestals with state-of-the-art camera support systems from Cartoni.

CAN-TV currently has four Cartoni P 090 two-stage pedestals, each capable of supporting camera/lens packages weighing up to 90 Kg. "Our old pedestals were built like tanks; they were made from heavy ferrous metals and weighed half a ton," recalls CAN-TV chief engineer Jason Bryant. "We needed something that was stable, lightweight and easy to use."

Bryant points out that CAN-TV provides production space as a public service and that much of its programming is produced by members of the general public with little or no professional training. Student organizations, senior citizens groups and groups for special needs individuals are among those who use its facilities. Cameras, support systems and other gear needs to be robust enough to withstand rigorous use, Bryant points out, "and yet be simple enough for everyone to use."

The versatile, compact and portable Cartoni P 090 fits the bill. "The way that Cartoni products are laid out in terms of where the locks are, how to steer them, where the drags are, how they move, the feedback from the's all very intuitive," Bryant says. "It's perfect."

The Cartoni pedestals get plenty of use. CAN-TV produces dozens of shows each week, ranging from news programs to music and variety shows to religious programming. Among its more popular shows is Chicago Newsroom, covering local news and community affairs. It was recently honored for excellence at the 50th Chicago International Film Festival Television Awards and the Best of the Midwest Achievement Awards.
CAN-TV acquired its Cartoni pedestals through North Hollywood-based Cartoni USA/Manios Digital & Film, which also provided on-site assistance with set up and a unique 5-year warranty. Manios Digital & Film National Sales Manager David Butler says that responsive support is essential for busy production operations. "CAN-TV can't afford downtime," Butler observes. "and we want to help them avoid any disruptions to their production schedule."

In describing the value that the Cartoni P 090 has brought to CAN-TV's productions, Bryant cites Senior Network, a program produced by Chicago seniors that features a wide range of subjects and issues important to older Americans. "One of the crew had a fully loaded Cartoni P 090 and was trucking it across the floor," he notes. "That was beautiful! That's why I got those pedestals."

WORTH NOTING: Bowie community TV recruiting new programs

Richard Stein Musical Drama

Bowie Community Media will begin airing Richard Stein’s computer illustrated, 30-minute musical drama: “The Diary of Marilyn Monroe” July 3 on Bowie Cable TV Channel 11 and 77.

Mark Patterson, Bowie Community Media executive director, is looking for creative people to fill out the lineup of Bowie’s public access television channel.

Bowie Community Media (channels 77/11) seeks people with interesting hobbies, special interests or lifestyles that they want to share with others in the community.

“We broadcast from 7 a.m. to midnight, but usually only about four of five hours of that per week are new and we are much looking to expand,” Patterson said Monday.

Currently, programming is dominated by talk shows.

Patterson is looking for children’s shows, fitness programs, sports programs, music programs and concerts or event dramatic productions.

Program producers must be a resident of the city of Bowie and pay a yearly $100 fee. Producers have access to over a hundred thousand dollars worth of production equipment at the studio at the Kenhill Center.

Producers also can submit programming made outside the studio.

The channel will broadcast Richard Stein’s computer animated musical “The Diary of Marilyn Monroe.” The program is intended for adult audiences, includes nudity and will be broadcast after 10 p.m. starting July 3.

In the near future, producers will be able to use the newest piece of equipment in the studio, a virtual set system that allows programs to be staged in front of any backdrop.

SOURCE: For information, email Patterson at or call 301-814-3057.