By Ed Salvas, Secretary, Asbury Park Cable TV Advisory Committee
January 2020 marked the beginning of the eighth year on the air for the Asbury Park Cable TV station, better known around the shore community as APTV. But 2020 would soon become a year of challenges for the station, and for viewers of its programs on Cablevision/Optimum and Verizon FiOS.
Staffed by volunteers and part time technicians and advised by a committee of nine members, the city recognized there was a need for APTV to have a full time Station Manager and begin an expansion to include a second channel and upgrade of its equipment. Station Manager Nate McCallister was scheduled to start on Monday, March 16.
That was the day City Hall was closed because of the rapidly spreading Covid 19 Pandemic and everyone was working from home. With Nate’s background in commercial TV, he was able to keep the station on the air and provide information and entertainment to a community that was stuck at home.
During the Pandemic we curated dozens of PSAs on Covid 19 from the CDC, state and county. These ranged from preventing infections through mask-wearing, hand washing, and social distancing, detecting infections in yourself and others, caring for infections, contact tracing and minimizing stress. Because schools were closed and classes were held remotely, we had discussions on talking with children about a Pandemic and returning to school and returning to work. We also utilized the station to share free Covid 19 testing dates and locations and now information about getting the vaccine.
Asbury Park Mayor John Moor appeared on APTV to help communicate the new rules in place as the summer season approached with limited dining and the city’s popular nightclubs, including the Stone Pony, Paramount Theater and Convention Hall, closed and daily beach badge sales limited. Government continued to function with the City Council, and the various Boards and Commissions taking to ZOOM for meetings, hosted by APTV.
At the same time, APTV began laying the groundwork for “APTV-2.” McCallister said APTV plans to use the second TV channel as an information hub for all city residents, employees and business owners and tourists. Using digital signage hardware and software from our longtime partner TelVue, APTV will have up to the minute weather event and safety information available via cable TV, the website, www.AsburyParkTV.com , and the Roku/Apple apps. Rollout is expected in the Spring 2021. APTV serves the city of Asbury Park on Optimum channels 77 and 116 and Verizon FiOS channels 28 and 30.
The new channel is not the only new development at APTV. Changes are also planned in other areas where the technology that was available in 2013 has been replaced by newer technology for the 21st century. APTV last year purchased a Sling Studio for use in multi-camera situations. The Sling Studio was first used to live stream the Asbury Park High School Graduation, which took place in the summer because of Covid 19 restrictions. The outdoor ceremony has been viewed more than 500 times. The station also added a new SONY Camcorder, a SONY 4k, model PXW-Z150. Other improvements are being considered for the Council Chambers. Originally, there was just one camera mounted on a tripod that was replaced by two PTZ cameras from GRAMCO which also updated the audio system in the room.
Hopefully, the Council and the public will be able to return to City Hall when the world returns to “normal.”