|Who you be, stranger?|
First off, it's not like nobody in Sierra Madre hasn't tried this before. This blast from the past is from the Los Angeles Times, February 6, 1991 (link):
Sierra Madre Plugs In to Cable Television Broadcasting: Despite a debut filled with bloopers, the program's sponsors and participants look forward to going on with the show.
Sierra Madre's foray into the world of live cable television seemed to have more to do with Murphy's Law than "Murphy Brown." The focus lens on camera No. 2 got stuck, causing a five-minute delay of the show's 8 p.m. debut Jan. 30.
There were more volunteer crew members--about 12--than there were members of the studio audience. The electronic graphics board, which generates names and titles for the show, wasn't working. And a real wood fire, lit in an on-set fireplace to provide a homey touch, gave off some unexpected sound effects.
"That fire crackling in the background sounds like Ping-Pong," said Booth Hartley, a computer programmer at Caltech who was operating the electronic graphics board. But hey, this is community television, not network news.
And with live TV, "Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, no matter what you do," noted Arcadia resident Jack Bryce, a retired public relations manager for Pacific Bell who acted as one of the show's three camera operators.
But what it lacked in technical expertise, the volunteer crew more than made up in enthusiasm.
Cords and cables were run from the Senior Citizen Center's Memorial Park House, where the show was being taped, to the mobile "camera control unit," or studio on wheels, which was parked around the side.
The show's producer-host, Charlotte Blackmon, even put makeup on guests, who included Sierra Madre City Councilman Clem Bartolai, former Mayor Lisa Fowler Farrell, resident Elizabeth Toth and volunteers from the city's Skilled Nursing Center Facility Auxiliary.
"Television is the ultimate team sport," said Kristine Komar, executive director of Pasadena Community Television, which provides the training and equipment for the Sierra Madre program. "Everyone depends on everybody else."
That was then, so what about today and our new Sierra Madre cable station? The information provided is not exactly clear, but there is a survey provided by something called Survey Monkey. Not sure if Survey Monkey works for the city or not, but I wouldn't be too shocked if he (or she) might have some kind of a hook up there. Here is how the survey is introduced to you, the potential SMTV Channel 98 viewer:
Sierra Madre TV Survey
Got a minute? The folks who run Sierra Madre's two local TV stations - that's right, Sierra Madre has two local TV stations - need your opinion on what you like to watch and how you watch it so they can make this local resource more fun and relevant to your lifestyle.
We are doing this survey now because we are excited to launch a new channel, Channel 98. As you might know, Channel 3 on Time Warner Cable has been airing City Council and Planning Commission meetings, and other City government events, live for years and this important service will continue. But we are now adding Channel 98 as a commercial free, educational channel that will feature children's programming, classic movies and TV shows, how-to shows, community special events and other interesting and eclectic programming relevant to our lives in Sierra Madre all presented without commercials and without fundraising. It is our channel, it is starting from scratch, and we need you to tell us what you want to see on it.
Please take a few minutes to fill out this questionnaire and be part of creating something that will entertain and inform us, be unique to our special town, and make us proud. Thanks for the help.
If you wish to take Survey Monkey's survey, you can do so by clicking here. I think he wants to hear from you.
So who exactly is calling the shots at SMTV 98? They do have a website, but no actual names are given there that I was able to see. No Board of Directors, no Dutch Uncle, no Aunt Polly, nothing like that. Needless to say, we here at The Tattler enthusiastically support anonymity as a valid and highly effective communications tool, so we are hardly going to complain here. But this is a mystery, and we would enjoy it more if we could find some of these kinds of answers.
One thing they do claim on the SMTV 98 website (link) is that this new cable television station is not affiliated with the City of Sierra Madre. And while it is apparently somehow connected to the folks that broadcast our City Council meetings on its twin station, SMTV3, there is no direct tie to our city gummint. At least, not officially. Though frankly I do think that the two might be cohabiting.
They do offer this following information, however:
There will be a weekly channel guide with programing dates and times. The programing is from public domain sites, the PEG channel community and purchased videos. Image quality sometimes suffer due to the fact many of the programs are older than most of us that are alive. Most of the videos are in black and white, silent films, with color films sprinkled throughout.
The programing targets children, teens, adults and seniors. Throughout the day the programing may include cartoons, serials, movies, Sierra Madre community events, gardening shows and travel logs. Please note that the programming will be interrupted for emergency information as the need arises.
If you would like to have the Channel Guide email to you (sic) weekly please complete the Channel Guide Subscription in the right hand column. You will be emailed a pdf of the current Channel Guide.
They have a pretty cool Popeye cartoon on their webpage, one that contains an important message about fireworks safety. There is also a page that discusses the always interesting topic of sponsors.
The City of Sierra Madre does not have a system to receive resources for Channel 98. Thus this site will be dedicated to receiving sponsorship funds, download movies, shorts, serials and other public domain programing. All submitted programing must be in the public domain or have rights to show programs without cost to us.
We will use viewer feedback to enhance the programming offering. We are looking for individuals, companies, corporations, clubs and organizations to sponsor, purchase or download videos for the channel. A list will be generated for those interested to download or purchase for a fee public domain programing.
Our next clue is found in the storied pages of the Mountain Views News. Somebody placed an ad there for SMTV 98, done as an attempt to entice people into taking the Survey Monkey's survey. You can view this fusty artifact by clicking here.
Another of the clues that we have been able to uncover is found on the City of Sierra Madre's website. Now we know that there is no affiliation between this new SMTV 98 and the City of Sierra Madre, but they do seem to be at the point where they are buying china and patterned sheets. I mean, The Tattler isn't affiliated with the City of Sierra Madre either, but we don't have a page on the their website. If you want to check it out, click here.
But there is a light at the end of this tunnel. And it comes from The Patch, of all places. Here is how they explain it all (link):
SMTV-3 Committee To Have More Independence in Programming Choices - Working with Time Warner Cable, with final touches still to come, SMTV-3 looks forward to having more control over broadcasts.
SMTV-3 and Channel 98, Sierra Madre's government access and public education television stations, respectively, provides citizens with live coverage of happenings around town including meetings of the City Council and Planning Commission as well as other community events and educational programs.
A subcommittee to the Community Services Commission, the SMTV3 Committee is responsible for independently planning and reviewing SMTV3 and Channel 98 endeavors within the community.
"The Community Services Commission shall approve the list of productions and events to be covered by the Community Media of the Foothills," according to Kristi McClure, Deputy Director of Community and Personnel Services.
Although programs are chosen for broadcast by the committee, much of the public education channel's programming is actually run through Cal State Dominguez Hills' channel, giving the City of Sierra Madre less control than they might otherwise have.
Now, through their partnership with Time Warner Cable, which provides the channel to the city through franchise fees paid by cable subscribers, the SMTV Committee and city staff will soon have complete control of the channel and what programs play on it.
“Our role is basically [to] build the shelf, and you can buy the product that you're going to put on the shelf,” Time Warner Director of Government Relations Stephen Sawyer said.
This is not anything different from what other cities in the area have been doing. In fact, Sierra Madre is probably one of the last cities in the area to work with Time Warner Cable to gain more control over television programming.
With final touches in the process of completion and staff training ahead, more independence is on the horizon.
“The last piece is to put in the switcher to allow us to go ahead and turn off and turn on the education channel and what we’d like to program on it,” said McClure.
Also discussed during the committee meeting were DVD submissions of possible educational programs from various independent parties that the committee could then consider broadcasting. The committee plans to review these DVDs before their next meeting in July.
So there you go. Maybe we could sign up with SMTV 98 for The Tattler Sunday News with Sir Eric Maundry? Live from the shed in the backyard. No chickens.
http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com -- Special thanks to Neuroblast Films.