Spotlight: West Milford – A Thank You Note

By Geoff Belinfante, West Milford TV

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.  

By PEG standards, we have a very small station run by a handful of intrepid volunteers, and as I was doing my programming this week, I had this thought–without JAG, the other PEG channels around the country, and independent producers that support our efforts, there would be no West Milford channel. Why? 

Since we don’t have enough volunteers to shoot all the local activities that could fill the channel, we rely on the JAG cloud–based server to help us create a program schedule that has broad appeal to everyone in town.  It is in that context that we present our School Board and Town Council meetings.  Thanks to the server, they are included on a channel that someone might actually want to watch!  What better way to provide transparency in government to those who wish to watch their elected officials in action and keep track of how their tax money is spent.

Thanks to the JAG server, we are able to program a channel 24 hours a day, and my Saturday schedule is a good example of how we use the programs available to us.  The overnight hours are full of old movies, paranormal shows—(thanks to Woodbridge) and/or South Amboy’s Spooky Thriller Mystery Theatre.  Then we grab a very nice version of the national anthem at 5:00am to begin our broadcast day.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you an hour by hour breakdown of the rest of the day, but I am going to detail the kind of shows that we use on any given Saturday to create a general interest channel. 

In the morning there are exercise shows for seniors (Seniorcize, thanks to Woodbridge); kids shows (Sing a Long with Miss Mirium from HTTV), drawing and painting—Saturday Morning Cartooning (again Woodbridge).  In the afternoon and evening, after some local sporting events when available, we have programs for adults like Democracy Now, Empowering Women, Ted Talks, shows related to the environment like Peak Moment, and science shows from the National Science foundation and NASA.  But as they say in all those awful infomercials—There’s More. 

TV isn’t just about information; you have to have some entertainment, and we have lots of music shows to choose from including one that we produced locally before the Pandemic called “Music from the Vreeland Store”—a local restaurant and watering hole.  Then there’s “Sidewalk Entertainment from the West Coast” with a peek into the world of entertainment. There are also many cooking shows to choose from just in case someone out there is interested in finding something to cook for dinner on Sunday.  I also am able to program Book Review shows, interview shows, shows on aging and specials on many different topics that are available for occasional use.  There are also excellent shows that are produced by Montclair State and other University Radio and TV programs.  And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all the short segments like “Riverwatch” thanks to the Delaware River Keepers that help fill the time between shows.

So this is a thank you note—Thank you to JAG, all the PEG channels around the country and the independent producers who contribute to our server for providing us with programs that keep our little channel up here in the highlands going.  No article about the JAG server would be complete without a big THANK YOU to TelVue, who hosts all the content and makes it available to those of us who depend on it.  Without the server, there wouldn’t be much to WM77.  The moral of the story…  If you need to fill out a program schedule and you want to provide your residents with some great programming, but you don’t have the staff or money to shoot everything in your town, then use JAG’s cloud-based server as a resource.  There’s lots of great stuff available.