by Gary Campbell, Station Manager/Producer, Newark TV
In today’s competitive television, cable and streaming market, government-access television Newark TV-78 is producing high quality content for the largest city in New Jersey–Newark. Newark continues to shine in public safety, affordable housing, the arts, equitable growth and empowering residents. Mayor Ras Baraka says that in 2023 we are finally experiencing the Newark Renaissance that has been in motion for over fifty years, and TV78 has been there to help the city achieve its goals.
New York City has a step-brother, and it’s called Newark. The locals call it “Nork.” Newark is New Jersey’s largest city by population, known for its vibrant arts scene and one of America’s oldest. It was founded in 1666 by Connecticut Puritans and led by Robert Treat.
Working in Municipal and Community Television can sometimes be a thankless job —long meetings, municipal bureaucracy, aging equipment, and angry residents—they all come with the job. I suppose we all do it for different reasons, but I guess many of our members find it rewarding because they contribute to their stations year after year. For many, it’s like performing a public service–providing information to residents, allowing greater governmental transparency, and documenting the history of the towns we represent.
By Mark Albala, Vice Chairman, TV Committee, Oakland, New Jersey
Many of you do not know that the borough of Oakland was the test case for Altice’s HD service for municipal broadcasts. The purpose of this article is to present the two-year journey of the dedicated team of volunteers, who partnered with Oakland’s elected officials and ultimately obtained permission from Altice to broadcast HD quality municipal coverage over Altice.
Up here in the highlands of New Jersey, we at WM77 have been lucky to win two JAG “awards of excellence” in the past two years, one in the category of “Fairs, Festivals, Car Shows and Arts and Crafts,” and one for single camera coverage of our Town Council meetings. While it’s always nice to be recognized for outstanding work by your peers, for a small station like WM77 it has meant a lot more than just a pat on the back and a trophy for Town Hall.
Every Great Video we produce has to have a story. My name is Caz. Bielen, Chief Creative Officer of Premiere Media and CazTV. I immigrated to the US when I was 8 years old. I never had a TV in Poland. My first TV was a black and white set, where I learned English watching Magilla Gorilla, The Adventures of Superman, Little Rascals and I Love Lucy reruns There were also the annual viewings of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Wizard of Oz. I did not know it was in color till I was in my late teens. But I loved the stories and the lighting, the effect that made these characters come to life.
By Lee Beckerman, Station Manager, Woodbridge Channels
In the mid-1980s, Woodbridge Township was contemplating starting a cable TV channel of its own. They had secured a channel on Suburban, set up a governing board and had purchased a random assortment of equipment. And then…nothing happened. At some point they decided it was time to bring on a person to manage the station and move the project forward. I was fresh out of college with a degree in video production. Doing freelance and having a hard time finding fulltime work in my field, I jumped at the opportunity. It was not my dream job, but I thought it might be an adequate place holder to build my resume, and, lacking other options, I took it. I was eventually shown to a packed projection room/closet, told it was my new office and to have at it. No further instructions were forthcoming. No one had apparently thought past the idea of having a TV station and considered what to do with it. I rightly deduced that the first part of starting a community television station involved getting all the crap out of your new office and finding a desk.
And So It Began… WBMA-TV (Channel 35) in Bloomfield, NJ has been in operation for over 45 years, making it one of the oldest municipal channels on Comcast. Its purpose was and still is to inform the Bloomfield Community of events happening throughout the township, while supporting open government through the playback of meetings on the cable channel. It started out like many stations across the state have, in a small space, a bunch of VHS players and a graphics system. Over the years the space in which the station operated grew larger, but much of the equipment stayed the same. VHS players, mixed with SVHS with shows being recorded on mini-dv, were the flavor through the early 2000s. Unfortunately, due to the death of the station manager, and a couple of short-term interim managers, the station was starting to fall by the wayside. Thankfully, a new board member who was experienced professionally in the industry, kept the station on life support, convincing the Township of Bloomfield and the Cable Advisory Board that the station needed to change both the way it operated and the technology at hand.
By Ed Salvas, Secretary. Asbury Park Cable TV Advisory Committee
January 2023 marked the start of the eleventh year of operation for Asbury Park TV, known as APTV. Seen on Optimum channels 77 and 116 and on Verizon FiOS on channels 28 and 30, APTV is programmed around the clock with the usual Public Access programs: City Council, and Board of Education meetings, as well as the Planning and Zoning Boards. APTV can also be seen on streaming services Roku and Apple TV, YouTube and online at www.AsburyParkTV.com.
I have a ritual. Every Thursday morning it’s my responsibility to program our channel, WM77 here in West Milford, for the following Saturday. Why Thursday?—because our council meetings are held on Wednesday nights and I want to make sure that the latest meeting is available for viewing at 11:00 Saturday morning for those who can’t catch it during the week at its regular times—7:00am and 7:00pm.