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A PEG TV Setup, Part 1

Jan 2, 2014 10:58 AM, With Bennett Liles

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

They’re PEG stations—public access, education, and government programming that’s all local all the time. Bea Coulter and Jason Tait are with us today to talk about local programming, their new LED lighting upgrade, and training their staff on the new TV production gear. That’s coming right up on the SVC Podcast.

Bea Coulter and Jason Tait from Portland Community Media it’s great of you to join us for the SVC Podcast. And it’s always nice to talk to people at PEG TV stations with public access, education, and government programming because in this era of conglomerate media and one company owning hundreds of broadcast stations and centrally controlled programming, you guys kind of go retro to that trend and take it super local. But fill us in on the specifics, Bea. What do you do at Portland Community Media?

Bea: Well, we’re a nonprofit, community media center, as you said. We cover local government meetings, we have fee-for-service production, we program six channels on the Comcast cable system in Portland. We teach technology, we manage public access, and we work with youth and nonprofits and individuals to make the most of the exceptional access that we have in our service area. We’ve got really exceptional funding and access to community media. Our activities include the gamut of production topics from long, boring meetings to music festivals, and we do lots of live programming from our studios. We use paid production staff and volunteers. [Timestamp: 1:55]

And that’s an interesting mix of paid staff and volunteers that you’re recruiting to sort of fill the holes in the production spots?

Bea: Yeah. So actually, Jason Tait is our multimedia services director and he manages all of our paid staff – production staff.

Jason: The use of volunteers with paid staff, it really generally depends on the scope of the project. If we have a client that can’t afford a full, paid staff, then we supplement volunteers as much as we can. We’re able to teach the volunteers more skills than they would not normally get through some of the basic classes that we offer, and it also cultivates the next series of paid staff. So we’ve got quite a few folks that are actually paid staff now that started off as a volunteer. [Timestamp: 2:41]

That’s the way it typically goes and that’s a great opportunity for them to get a start in TV production. I know that you’ve had a steady migration toward HD as some of the other PEG stations have as resources are available. How long has the migration to HD been going on there?

Bea: We started with our field camera and editing equipment in 2009, but we really started full force in 2011 with our production truck upgrade, which was kind of our learning experience project. And then since then we’ve upgraded our City Hall production facility to HD. We’ve upgraded both of our studios. We’ve built an additional level system, and we’ve upgraded our studio lighting to LED. And this year we finished the upgrade process with a rebuild of our master control. [Timestamp: 3:29]

I know the lighting system was a huge upgrade. No small task on that part of it. What was the situation on the lighting system you had before, which I guess you had to tear out completely?

Bea: Yeah. We had incandescent lighting in our studios, and so we just decided to make the leap all the way to LED. We actually had 2K’s in our studio from the NBC Burbank facility, so these are lighting instruments that were probably 50 years old hanging on our light grids. [Timestamp: 3:56]

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