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Behind the scenes of Plywood Cowboy performing on Shoreline Music Monthly on Valley Shore Community Television. The public access station will hold an open house on hursday, Sept. 19. (Photo courtesy of Valley Shore Community Television )
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For those who live or work in southern Middlesex County and have an idea and the motivation to create a public television show, the Valley Shore Community Television (VSCTV) open house might just be the perfect opportunity.
The free event will take place at VSCTV’s studios on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 19, providing budding hosts, producers, and camera operators a chance to see what public access television is all about.
VSCTV serves Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Durham, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook.
“We’re a 501(c)(3) non-profit and have been open for about six years,” said Chris Morgan, the station’s public access coordinator. “We’re here for anyone who either lives or works in those nine towns to produce their own TV show.”
In attendance will be several board members, as well as staff—the station has one full-time staff member, Morgan, as well as two part-timers.
“Some of our current producers that folks may recognize [from] television will be in attendance, as well,” said Morgan. This will be helpful for people who “want to talk to somebody who’s been there, done that.”
Open house attendees will have the chance to tour the facility and see the equipment and can sign up for a series of three training workshops the studio will hold the following week: Monday, Sept. 23 (studio production), Tuesday, Sept. 24 (field production), and Wednesday, Sept. 25 (digital editing). The workshops are free; pre-registration is encouraged. The training is designed for public access television, Morgan said, and is provided in the hope that trainees will go on to produce a program for VSCTV.
The number of people required to produce a show “really depends on the type of program,” Morgan said. “If you’re trying to do a studio show—like an interview program in the studio itself—you’d need three or four people behind the scenes” who would also need to enroll in the workshop series to become certified to use the studio’s equipment.
For those interested in filming “outside our four walls with a field camera, you could probably do it single handedly,” he said. “You wouldn’t necessarily need a large crew. But it would probably take longer, because you’d be shooting piecemeal and putting it together in editing.”
Successful programs produced at the station, Morgan said, include Shoreline Music Monthly, which “spotlights local musicians, who play a set of three or four songs on a show. [Viewers] get to enjoy a lot of local original songs.”
Poetry of Immigrants is hosted by retired Gateway Community College English professor Frank Crowley.
“There’s usually a theme of a different country and he’ll read poetry or authors from that country or region,” said Morgan.
The Pete Mezzetti Show is a public affairs program featuring local figures, such as first selectmen, state representatives, and leaders of local organizations.
There are limitations on what local access television allows, Morgan said.
“It can’t be commercial in nature, there can’t be calls to action, nothing outrageous that you couldn’t put on television,” Morgan said. “There are a few rules and regulations as to what you’re allowed to put on TV, but they are pretty lenient.”
Personal attacks on a non-public figure, for instance, are not permitted.
Morgan prefers to emphasize what local programming does well, which is “bring people more together,” he said.
“There are so many things that people agree on and like to see. That’s the kind of stuff that we try to encourage,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of success working with some of the local high schools, covering sports and other events.
“There are not enough outlets for [local] voices to get heard,” Morgan said. “We provide a voice to the local community.”
For Comcast subscribers, VSCTV is available on Channel 19, but only in the nine towns that the station serves. Frontier customers can watch the station anywhere in the state on Channel 6089. Public access television is funded via cable subscriber fees.
And anyone with an Internet connection can watch a live stream or a specific program on demand for free on a computer or device just by going to the VSCTV website.
The Valley Shore Community Television (VSCTV) open house will take place on Thursday, Sept. 19, from 5 to 7 p.m. at VSCTV’s studios, 1587 Boston Post Road, Unit A2, at the Shops at Water’s Edge. More information may be found at VSCTV’s website at www.vsctv.com. Registration for the training workshops is also available on the main page of the website.
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