President’s Message: December 2022 – Holiday Wish List… 3rd Annual

by Bob Duthaler

The Holiday Season is underway, starting with Thanksgiving and ending with the New Year just a few weeks away.  Every year at my house, the kids get ready to celebrate Christmas and they (ok, me too!) start working on their Christmas List!  The same can be said for running your station or JAG as an organization.

What would be on your list this year for your station? 

I hope you picked up some ideas from the many vendors who attended our in-person trade show back in May or from the many vendor presentations at our monthly meetings.  There is no wrong answer in this situation.  Each station operates differently from others across the state and vary greatly.  But each has the same core principle, to inform their community in which they serve.  When you make your wish list, keep in mind your community, their needs and how as a station you can serve them.  The goal is always to enhance what we are currently doing.

It’s no secret that I am a tech head!  I love new and exciting things that come along that can help our industry and make our lives easier.  I love to play around with these items, demo them, beta test and give valuable feedback on how they would fit in with my station operations and how to best serve my community.  With that in mind, I am going to share with you some items that are on my wish list for this holiday season based on what I am doing at stations I am involved with.  Perhaps these will give you some ideas, encourage you to review your station’s needs and give you direction for the future.

Enhanced Live Broadcast –

Live broadcasts are on top of the list again this year.  We are working on ways to not only increase the number of live broadcasts we are doing but the quality as well.  We are capable of going live from anywhere, thanks in no small part to using LiveU units, Tricaster and TelVue systems.  We do remote location meetings live (BOE with LiveU) and Council, Zoning and Planning via fiber connection and ethernet connections.  Streaming them live on-air, our website, the township website and Facebook is a must.  Our goal now is to increase the quality of those broadcasts by using NDI Technology, creative graphics and enhanced production techniques with our new production switcher as well.  We are even bringing in Zoom for hybrid meetings or next level all Zoom.

OTT and The Cord Cutters –

Cable remains at the heart of our operation and broadcast source, but we continue to realize it’s not the only way.  Evidence continues to mount, and more so in 2022, that people are watching video on many different sources.  Tuning in at 8pm to watch a particular program doesn’t always mean on cable.  As discussed above, it can be on streaming on websites or on social media platforms. Now it includes stations having their own OTT channel on Apple TV, ROKU or even Amazon Fire.  Cord cutters can watch our channels in a linear format just like cable.  Stations have found other sources to stream their channel on other apps as well. Vendors like Rushworks, Telvue and Cablecast have solutions for your needs. Our lives continue to be busier now than they were years ago, running in different directions with children’s activities, volunteering, exercise and more.  We are an “on-demand” society, wanting to consume video when we want, and how we want.  Therefore, it is important to establish an online presence on social media, the web and Over-The-Top (OTT) devices like ROKU, Apple TV, Fire Stick and others.

Build A Better Bulletin Board –

This is how many stations started, and for some, their Bulletin Board may account for most of their programming.  But long gone are the days of running a basic text program or Power Point slide show.  Vendors like Cablecast and Telvue have creative solutions for bringing your bulletin boards to the next level.  You need to create content on your bulletin board system that is both informational and creative.  The use of video and motions graphics are the way to do that.  In addition, running short informational videos (under 2mins), PSAs, and station programming promos take your bulletin boards to the next level.  But don’t stop there!  Look for other add-ons to make your channel a destination even when the bulletin board is airing. Adding in motion graphics like weather, news tickers, trivia, top 10 lists, and more add new life to your bulletin board system.  Finally, don’t forget the music.  As recently discussed at our last meeting, companies like de Wolfe have large music libraries at an affordable price to give you the opportunity to create your own music playlist that you can use during bulletin board playout.  Plus, changing playlists during the year and even adding in a holiday music playlist allows your channel to even play as background entertainment.

Next Level Stations –

Not all stations will ever reach this status, but even if there is a chance yours could, you should make yourself aware of them.  Several JAG stations are using additional production enhancements like mobile productions units.  This allows stations to show up anywhere to cover a sporting event, concert, or parade.  These can be box trucks or trailers.  Some others start smaller with a fly pack and tent for protection.  These are more on the expensive side, but something to think about for capital requests or franchise renewal requests.  How about updates to your studio or even just creating a new studio.  Both JVC with various camera and PTZs, along with DeSisti Lighting can give your studio the upgrade it needs or the equipment to even create a new one.  JAG has many vendors that can be used as resources like Varto Technologies and G&G Technology to help evaluate your needs, supply various equipment and even do installations.

Top Notch Broadcasts –

Now is the time to start concentrating and preparing for next level broadcasting.  For PEG stations this means HD on cable along with incorporating closed captioning in your programming.  As we have discussed throughout the year at JAG meetings, if you have a channel that falls under the state-wide system franchise, then you have the right to an HD Channel.  I urge you to find out about your franchises and what you are entitled to.  Not under a system-wide franchise, only a local agreement?  Well stations are now negotiating for a HD Channel in their new franchises and some stations have even begun talks with cable providers prior to renewal.  Just like anything in life, you never know where you stand unless you ask for it.  As I mentioned above, the move to having a channel with closed captioning is coming sooner than later.  Explore the many vendors out there who you may be using already to learn about their closed caption solutions.  Companies like Municipal Captioning can help steer you through the different options available.

Let these ideas I discussed be the start of your discussion at your station

Plan your township’s next steps in getting what you want.  Some of you may want the same thing, some may want something different and others may just be trying to find solutions within their budget.  It does not matter what path you take next; the important thing is to have a plan in mind, use the resources that both JAG Members and Vendors can give you, and do your best to get that information out to your viewers and engage them.  Through this process you will find out that your holiday wishes can come true!  I wish your station, your family and yourself all the best for this upcoming Holiday Season and New Year.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions you might have, as I am always willing to share my thoughts and experiences: .