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09/21/2023 08:57 AM

Connor Thornberg: Telling a Story Through Any Media

Connor Thornberg is the assistant station manager at ETV and involved in various aspects of the organization. Photo by Aaron Rubin/The Courier

Whether it’s a newspaper like The Courier or a station like East Haven Television (ETV), everyone who is part of any kind of media organization knows it’s a team effort. In the case of the latter example, assistant station manager Connor Thornberg understands the importance of producing relevant and quality content for ETV’s viewers.

Connor is an East Haven native whose connections with ETV Chairman Jay Miles date back to his career at East Haven High School, where Miles was Connor’s media teacher. Connor later studied video game development at Worcester Polytechnic Institute “from an artistic perspective,” he said. That involved “a lot of both 2D and 3D art, putting games together with an engine, game design and storytelling and theory.”

Connor came to ETV in the fall of 2020 and has since seen it grow from a small organization on the corner of Coe Avenue to an award-winning local media establishment now on Main Street.

“It was mostly broadcasting local stuff...So we sort of realized that we needed to start doing some different things, both to be able to survive as an organization and just because we wanted to be doing things that were relevant and that people were going to be able to enjoy and be excited about making,” said Connor. “We started to shift towards becoming a place where people can come to produce any kind of media.”

Connor says that adding podcast production was a big move for the station in terms of having more current forms of media. He recognizes that as long as something sounds good, it can be an enjoyable form of media to consume.

“We saw podcasts emerging as a really big, new form of media,” Connor says. “Especially during the pandemic, everyone was listening to podcasts. One rule of media production is that if your audio is good, but your video is bad, people will watch it.”

Connor is involved with as many as four productions per week at ETV. That can include producing meetings for the Economic Development Commission that are held at the station’s building, or other town meetings hosted at the East Haven Senior Center. He’s also involved in classes in which ETV teaches media trainees about video and audio production and editing.

“We run classes here fairly often. We get a whole bunch of people in; we teach them how to use some kind of equipment. We had a single-camera training recently and had a bunch of people come back shortly afterward to start working on their own stuff,” Connor says. “So every month, we get more and more people coming in, which feels good. It’s what you want to see.”

Connor says that the rechristening of ETV during the past year has drawn more and more people who are discovering “what we do and getting excited” in terms of media production and the various opportunities the station has to offer.

“There’s always a chance to learn more about other disciplines of media production and, on top of that, we have a ton of equipment, all sorts of stuff that you can use to help learn those things,” says Connor. “The thing about media is that there’s always more to learn. If you’re fairly experienced with one kind of media, there’s always more that you can learn about it...Maybe you’re really good at film, or maybe you’re really good at audio, but you don’t know that much about the other side of it.”

Aside from his involvement in production and classes, Connor also designed ETV’s new website, logo, and T-shirts. The logo, featured on its T-shirts, consists of the words ETV and four kinds of media equipment: a computer, camera, microphone, and mobile phone.

“We wanted to put together a bunch of different icons that sort of symbolize the breadth of what we do here,” he says.

Telling stories of any kind through any medium is something that Connor practices, whether at ETV or in a comic that he is currently writing. He doesn’t want to give too much away, but says, “It’s set in a world about 200 years after an apocalypse” and is “a big world that I’m really excited to start.”

Be it comics, podcasts, or television broadcasting, Connor understands there is a kind of connecting tissue that binds all forms of media together: giving people the ability to tell a story. With new equipment and classes for the community, the purpose of that story can come to life at ETV.

“Whenever you make any kind of media, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, or whatever the genre is, fundamentally what you’re doing is telling a story. You’re creating a narrative of something that you want the viewer or listener or reader to take away afterwards. There’s a message that you want to send to them, and you do that by creating a sort of story to deliver that message.” Connor says. “Every piece of media is the same with this—podcast, film, comic, book—everything does this, and understanding stories and how to deliver them is a really, really important part of media production.”