Television equipment once used in the Ebbertt Education Center classrooms serves as the basis for the new local cable channel in the town of Anderson.
The city began testing community newscasting on Comcast Channel 18 about two weeks ago, said Frank Burrows, building superintendent for the city. Early next month, the content will also air on the AT&T U-Verse 99 channel.
But today marks the official launch of the “Government and Educational Television Access Channel,” a joint venture between the city, Anderson Community Schools and the Anderson Public Library.
“This is a great opportunity,” said Alex Webster, a 17-year-old high school student from Anderson and a member of the school’s small audio-visual club. “We never thought we would have this experience.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Webster and fellow club members Zach Pruett, 17, and Kenya Head, 18, were working on the first episode of a news program at a studio the Smith administration built at the city Hall. They hope this will become a regular feature on the channel.
Not only do teens want to learn television production skills themselves, but they hope their programs will pique the interest of other students and eventually lead to a course in television production. Burrows estimates that approximately 50% of the programming will come from students.
“There are a lot of kids who are interested in movies, television and radio and want an outlet to do that, but they haven’t had that opportunity,” Zach said. “And I feel like a lot of people who might not know they’re interested in this will see some of the things that we can do that will be of interest to them.”
The city spent about $13,000 to convert an unused ground floor office into a television studio. But the equipment — professional-grade cameras, tripods, a mixer, videotape editing machines, lights and computers — is owned by Anderson Community Schools and costs about $50,000 new.
It was originally purchased and used in the school system’s vocational and technical education classes at the Ebbertt Education Center on 38th Street.
These programs were eventually moved to the Wigwam complex at 12th and Lincoln streets after the Ivy Tech Community College took over Ebbertt’s location. When the Wigwam closed, the equipment was left in a television studio built there until it was discovered to be deteriorating and gathering mold last summer, Burrows said.
Technicians cleaned up the equipment and brought it to the town building as they quietly worked on plans to launch the local television station.
Sarah Later, director of the Anderson Public Library, said there has already been a positive public response to program notices aired on the television station over the past two weeks. A customer saw a notice for a library-sponsored computer class and called for more information.
“We’ve been very pleased so far and will continue to provide them with content about the courses and programs we offer and the things we do here at the library,” she said.
Mayor Kevin Smith said the local television station is another opportunity to update the public on city actions and support public school education programs.
“We pride ourselves on enabling our young people to learn in a unique setting and providing them with more opportunities,” said Smith.
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