Spotlight: Manalapan – Here at Manalapan Township Television Network

By Jan Zachary, Cable Television Coordinator, Manalapan

Our EG (Educational/Governmental) station formed in the fall of 2004 when the Township Committee created the Cable Television Advisory Committee (CTAC).  When I discovered the new committee in 2005, I joined at once.

When we formed our ordinances and wrote our policy and procedure manual, the Township Committee informed us that only Township events and meetings would be permitted.  Only Educational and Governmental sponsored programs would be broadcast on MTTN; we do not accept Public Programming.  We started out with a Cable Television Coordinator (CTC) and a Program Manager.  The CTC oversaw the Cable Station while the Program Manager organized the Volunteers and created content for the station.  In 2010 I became the CTC and assumed both functions.

I named our station Manalapan Township Television Network (MTTN) because we broadcast on multiple platforms: Optimum channel 77, Verizon channel 42 (hopefully HD soon), Vimeo, YouTube and Facebook.  With our equipment (Leightronix HD server and our Data Video MU1200 HD switcher) we can capture all internet programming as well as local live events and broadcast these events live.  We have been using Canon cameras from the beginning because of their ease of use for inexperienced volunteers and the Canon service center is in Dayton (well, was).

We have a great band of volunteers who help and counsel on innovative ideas relating to Manalapan.  All our volunteers, whether on the CTAC or just volunteering, must help, when they can, by both supporting while setting up and recording our programming.  We work on programs that deal with historical Manalapan such as the Village Inn (1732), the Battle of Monmouth (1778) and the History Fair at Monmouth Battlefield which is always a major event.  We also broadcast regional high school meetings, K-8 regional school meetings, Township Committee meetings, Planning Board Meetings, county and local debates, as well as unique events given by the schools, Township, County and State.  We try to cover all events that occur within the boundaries of Manalapan.

Within our Township family each Department has helped us with developing programming related to their field.  We receive their request on ideas related to a specific project, then formulate a plan, set up and screenplay; and with the help of our volunteers, produce programming.  In 2005 we had our first non-meeting program.  Sponsored by the Health Department it was a presentation on infectious diseases and viruses (who knew!?).  Our Recreation Department, Health Department, Environmental Commission, Senior Center, Veterans Committee and especially our Manalapan Arts Council all contribute programs to MTTN.

Holiday Concerts, Photo Contests, Rock and Roll Concerts, Theatre Groups, Car Shows, Cabaret Nights, Invasive Plant Control Presentations, Veteran Train Shows, Veterans Day Events, Black History Month Programs, and MLK Celebrations are just some of the events we cover.  In the Health Department we record lectures on Asthma, Sun Care, Child Abuse and Project Zero the drug abuse awareness initiative.  Then there is my favorite, Halloween!!!  I have worked with the Recreation Department on Halloween since 1993.  As you can see, we are constantly busy here in Manalapan.

On March 12, 2020, I was on holiday celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary in Hawaii when all hell broke loose.  We got to Hawaii, and the cruise around the Hawaiian Islands was canceled by the cruise line two days before we were to set sail, so we had to book more days at Aulani (our resort).  We enjoyed the Pearl Harbor tour from the last time we were there, so we did it again.  The next day all tours on Oahu were in shutdown.  The next day all the restaurants, even the ones at the resort, were shut down, so we went shopping at the grocery store next to the resort.  We were supposed to come home on the 26th, but Hawaii shut down on the 25th so we had to find flights.  Do not worry, Delta got us home with only three stops.  I just wanted to say each airport we landed in was like a ghost town.

To get back on target the world had to start dealing with Covid-19.  I was in Hawaii.  HOWEVER, my laptop can talk to my computer at work 24/7, so what did we do?  The mayor wanted to give daily updates to the Township residents starting March 16th, so I contacted one of our volunteers, Zim, and asked if he was up to the task of recording the mayor every day until I got home.  So that is what we did every weekday until June when we went to three times a week, and then in September, once a week.  Zim would record the mayor’s update at 4:30pm, and I taught Zim how to go live and then transfer the update into the schedule every day at 9 pm and 9 am. Recently, we stopped the mayor’s covid report and now we are back to our bi-monthly Mayors’ Report on all subjects.

Continuing with covid protocols we are now producing live hybrid Township Committee meetings, virtual for those who still feel uncomfortable attending meetings but still with the option of a live audience.  We are using a professional Zoom program called HD suite.  When we have finished the purchasing requirements, we will have a permanent virtual installation usable by all Township personnel.

Of course, no one can stand alone.  Without the cooperation of Administration and the Township Committee we would not be able to achieve our goals to further enhance our Television Station.  We also receive enormous support and help right here at JAG.  If something is going on in the legal world or the technical world of PEG then here is the place to seek guidance.  Thank you to all the members of the Jersey Access Group!! Manalapan Township, A Great Place to Live!