Sandwich TV: Our Station-of-the-Month

December 18, 2012, 16:06 by dliu

Sandwich Community TV is the epitome of a vital community media hub.

Consider how much the modest PEG station does for this historic town, located at the very beginning of the Cape Cod peninsula:

  • Operate the High School Media Center
  • Cover government meetings, and collaborate with their Selectmen to produce civics programming
  • Produce a wide range of public access programs, including talk shows, PSAs, and programs in coordination with other non-profits in the region
  • Feature local businesses, through close association with the chamber of commerce
  • Produce vignettes on Sandwich history, in cooperation with the local historical commission

Taken all together, this represents over 6 hours of in-house production broadcast every day, or about 45 hours of locally-produced programming per week. And the programming changes every week.

As if that weren’t enough on their plate, Executive Director Paula Johnson decided that Sandwich Community TV would also co-sponsor this year’s First Night Festivities, involving some 15 simultaneous venues, 30 artists and performers, a revelers parade with giant puppets, and a spectacular grand finale that will include a 20-foot lit countdown tower with cannon salute and church bells ringing!

How does a PEG station – with a staff of just four people – do it? “We always have a large pool of people we can call on, because we are associated with so many organizations in town,” Johnson explains, “If we need people, they’re out there.”

Johnson credits a team that works well together and works incredibly hard. The commitment to the High School media program, for example, calls for one or two staff members to go there every day to help with courses in broadcast journalism and documentary filmmaking, and then help kids finish up their projects after school. Nor do these kids shy away from ambitious projects: this December the entire high school is involved in producing a lip dub.

Johnson also praises TelVue technology for freeing up a lot of her staff’s time. “TelVue Connect is incredible,” she enthuses. Remote contributors like sports producer Paul Perry, for example, can shoot and produce an entire show, and then upload the finished product directly to Sandwich Community TV through any Web browser. Because Perry contributes to a regularly-scheduled show, he can upload his episodes from his home, directly into the assigned timeslots of the TV station’s broadcast server, with no intervention needed from the station’s very busy personnel. “It really freed up my staff. It’s been great. And I am so impressed with the quality of TelVue customer support.”

Sandwich TV is also a user of the Mass Access program-sharing service maintained by TelVue. “We upload a show called “Cape Conversations” which is shared by about 40 Massachusetts access stations,” says Johnson. “When you have consistent programming, people use them.” Sandwich is currently brainstorming, with several other key Cape stations, a proposal to knit neighboring access stations into a regional network that would share live and recorded programming of common interest.

Johnson describes herself as a strong believer in public access. “That’s why I got involved in the first place. I am deeply involved in many aspects of my community, and this coordinates all my interests.”

The Sandwich community is obviously enjoying their access to TV production skills.  Check out this “Night of the Unread” video, produced for the Public Library by the High School Media Center.

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