President’s Message: November 2023 Holiday Wish List

by Bob Duthaler

It is now officially the start of the Holiday Season, starting with Thanksgiving just ending.  This also means there are just slightly more than 30 days until the new year starts.  Every year at my house, the kids get ready to celebrate Christmas and they start working on their Christmas List, although as they get older the gifts become more expensive!  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?  There is no wrong answer in this situation.  Each station operates differently from others across the state and stations have different needs.  Each has the same core principle, to inform the community which they serve.  When you make your wish list, keep in mind your community and their needs and how, as a station, you can serve them.

As most of you know, I have always been a tech head!  I love new and exciting things that come along and can help our industry.  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.  This is also why I look forward to our conference each year, so I can see the latest and learn about upgrades (FYI… Conference for 2024 is Thursday, May 16th).  With that in mind, I am going to share with you a few items that are on my wish list for this holiday season.  Now these may not be your needs but let these act as a guide or talking point for your station.

Closed Captioning – this seems to be the number one item on the list this year.  There has been talk about this for years, but for me and others, it is turned to a “now” situation.  Recently, there have been new regulations for websites and video on websites and how they must be ADA compliant and contain closed captioning.  Building on that new requirement, now is the time to get a closed captioning plan in place.  You can start slowly or go all in.  Maybe you just want to get closed captioning for all your VOD that lives on your website.  Do you stream live on your website?  If so, then you need to add in a live-streaming closed captioning plan.  That same live-streaming plan will also serve your needs for your broadcast as well.  I would suggest you start your research now, determine a plan that suits both your current and future needs, and then reach out to vendors who support JAG for more information and costs.  I believe this to be our number one topic to tackle in 2024.

OTT and The Cord Cutters – Cable is at the heart of our operation and broadcast source, but there are new viewing trends and these need to be met as well.  There is much evidence that indicating that at the end of 2023 more people will watch live streaming video than cable.   People no longer tune in at “7pm” to watch a particular program.  Our lives are busier now than they were years ago, running in different directions with family activities, volunteering, exercise and more.  We are now more than ever an “on-demand” society, wanting to consume video when we want, and how we want.  This is why it is important to establish an online presence in social media.  People tend to turn to their mobile devices first, so you need to make sure you stay on their radar. **NOTE:  This is a good time (when you are done reading my article naturally) to watch on the JAG website my presentation at the League of Municipalities 2023 Conference.  Since viewing habits have changed, binge watching programs and sources have become the new norm.  We must continue to be part of that source and get our station and programs out to those individuals.  Over-The-Top (OTT) devices like ROKU, Apple TV and Fire Stick are some examples of those sources of content distribution.  This is why we feel it is important to be part of that as well.  My station in Bloomfield can now be found on ROKU, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire, in addition we have both an iOS App and Android App for view on tablets and phones.  We began our soft launch in 2023 and we plan to announce and market this further in 2024.

Enhancing Your Stations Look – This can be done by making purchases of new equipment, add-ons and other items that can help you technically achieve this, but there is another way as well.  Sometimes all it takes is a little more time and effort.  One of easiest ways and places to start is with your bulletin board.  We all have them, and we all use them.  Sometimes this is the first thing that gets neglected.  By making a few simple changes you can make a difference that will have a big impact on the look of the station.  Start by taking a little more time in creating quality graphics.  You will be surprised what a difference this makes.  In addition, you may need to recreate graphics you receive from outside sources or departments.  These typically are created for handouts or posters, and not television.  They usually contain small font that is difficult to read on TV, not properly formatted for optimal television viewing.  This is where you come in to correct this, create a better version and then “train” those who create these to give you a TV version for the future.  If you are not doing it already, you should also have music as background for your bulletin board.  Why not take it a step further and create multiple music selections and even holiday music as well.  Another step you can take is taking your productions to the next level.  When covering an event, get lots of b-roll, and when you think you have enough, get more.  One thing I always tell my camera people is that you can never have too much b-roll.  Get creative with both your shots during events and during the editing process assembling the footage together.  Quick, tight editing, editing to the beat of your background music and the use of creative graphics take your production to the next level.  This will ultimately end with more viewing of video both online and on-air.  Putting in the extra effort will pay dividends in the long run.

Let these few items I mentioned be the start of a discussion at your station and township of where you want to see your station move forward.  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, get that information out to your viewers and keep engaging them as well.  It will be at that point when you find that wishes do come true!  I wish your station, your family and yourself all the best during this Holiday Season.  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: .