Spotlight: North Brunswick – Despite Municipal Building Closure, North Brunswick TV Overcomes Challenges

by Craig Yetsko, Station Manager, North Brunswick Television

Looking back at the past two and a half years, operations at North Brunswick TV could best be summed up with a quote from the movie Heartbreak Ridge as Clint Eastwood’s character, Gunnery Sergeant Tom Highway told his platoon: Improvise, Overcome, Adapt.

The station overcame and adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic in a number of ways. They included:

▪ Airing daily, then weekly, briefings to keep residents up to date on the pandemic. The briefing
team included Mayor Francis ‘Mac’ Womack, Councilwoman Amanda Guadagnino, Office of
Emergency Management Coordinator Mark Cafferty and School Superintendents Dr. Brian Zychowski (March 2020 – June 2021) and Janet Ciarrocca (July 2021 – August 2022).
480 briefings were aired between March 11, 2020 and the final briefing on August 17, 2022.

▪ Airing live virtual Township Council, Planning and Zoning Board meetings via the TriCaster TC1 feed and
through the station’s Cablecast system

▪ Broadcasting virtual Township events and programs, including exercise/yoga videos for seniors

In June 2021, Township Council meetings were transitioning from virtual to hybrid. While it was challenging initially to get the right sound and video setup, meetings were beginning to run smoothly by August. With the Council Workshop meeting room set for hybrid meetings, work shifted to the main Council Chambers.

Progress towards hybrid was being made until everything changed again on September 1, 2021. The remnants of Hurricane Ida caused significant damage and closure of the Township Municipal Building. While the studio equipment was spared, conditions inside the building were not conducive for in person operations.

The station overcame this obstacle by going remote via Anydesk to access the studio’s computer and operate the station. Having used Anydesk during the pandemic, the transition was seamless. It allowed
for easy program scheduling on the Cablecast system, updating the bulletin board and editing video on DaVinci Resolve.

Township Council Meetings were held virtually after the storm, and then shifted to the Board of Education Meeting Room in November 2021 for a few meetings. The meetings switched to virtual during the winter but since March have been back at the Board of Education.

The meetings at the Board of Education are hybrid with virtual attendees logging in through Go To Meeting with the screen shared on 4 monitors around the room through the Kramer VIA program. In the control room, a TriCaster TC410 Plus is used for video production. The system was not hard to get used to as the station has a TriCaster TC1 in the studio.

Meetings are aired live with the assistance of the Board of Education’s IT staff. They remotely switch the port which allows the TriCaster feed to broadcast on the channel.

While Township Council meetings have gone hybrid, the Township’s Planning and Zoning Board meetings are held virtually. They are recorded and broadcast during the week and through the weekend.

The one area which has returned to normalcy has been coverage of Township events. These include the Memorial Day 5K Walk/Run, Memorial Day Ceremony, National Night Out, Tunes at Twilight Summer Concert Series and North Brunswick Heritage Day. Events are recorded using a JVC GY-HM170U camera.

For non-Township programming, the station broadcasts Aging Insights, Spotlight on Middlesex County, R&B Bistro and Classic Movies with Ron MacCloskey. North Brunswick TV is currently in development of its own Classic Movies show with Mayor Womack as host.

Looking ahead, assessments will be made on the existing studio equipment as well as evaluating the best broadcast setup for hybrid meetings in the Council Chambers. The lessons learned and adaptation to new technology from 2020 to 2022 will only help North Brunswick TV in 2023 and beyond.