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Sep-20-2006 23:53printcomments

From the Files of Public Pulse: The Importance of a Public Voice

A public voice is an integral right we have as Americans and public access television is one way to awaken the talent within you to express yourself.

Lela Taylor
Lela Taylor
Photo by: Tim King

(SALEM) - TELEVISION! Some hate it, some tolerate it, and some just love it. I happen to love it. I enjoy to be able to sit down when I want to relax and be entertained by the talk shows, the dramas, and, yes, the news.

I love the movies, some of the sitcoms, and being a sci-fi fan, I especially look forward to anything that reeks of Star Trek or the outer spaces beyond our earth. I also really look forward to some of the reality shows!

Yes, I love to read, too, in case any of you intellectuals are saying, “Why not just pick up a good book?”

Twelve years ago I discovered the world of public access television. I was always in awe of television and would have loved to work within that field, but I never thought it was possible.

When I discovered Salem’s Capital Community Television (CCTV) and volunteered to be Mrs. Claus to the ever popular Santa Claus, I soon found myself volunteering to be a camera person and then I was hooked. I was really reeled in when one of their producers told me I had a good presence in front of the camera and should start my own series. Stoking my ego always motivates this gal!

Being a non-profit organization, CCTV offers classes at a very minimal fee of $35 for each class. They offer classes in studio production where one learns to set up a studio for their production, lighting, and position the cameras.

After taking the studio class, you can continue on to directing classes, editing classes, camera classes, scriptwriting, program promotion, creating a media plan, and other environments in this ever changing field.

Trained, qualified staff is there to help, and anyone can create their own shows or public service announcements.

How exciting is that! In the Salem, Oregon, area, the only qualification is that you live in the Salem Comcast Cable viewing area, what an opportunity to learn. If you live in other areas that have a public access station, check with them to see if they have the same type of training. Fortunately, Salem has one of the best. The channels to watch are Comcast channels 21, 22, and 23.

All of this for one thing – To Give You and Me a Public Voice! Edward R. Murrow said:

“This instrument (television) can teach, it can illuminate, yes, and even it can inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise, it’s nothing but wires and lights in a box.”

We Americans enjoy the privilege of being able to freely speak our minds. Through public access television, you, Joe or Josephine Public, living in Salem, Oregon, or any other city that has a public access station, can learn to be a producer, a director, an editor, a camera person, and learn to produce a show that gets your voice heard.

When I started out with my own series, I was the host of a show called “Think About It” and had guests (talent) that were from all walks of life doing something in our community.

After four years, I decided to get behind the camera and took more classes to learn to be in the control room and direct. From that point I was approached by a married couple, Javier and Aurora Lopez, who were certified producers but not directors and wanted me to direct a series for them.

This series became Reflections with Javier and was an umbrella for three shows, The Winds of Change, a political venture, Art with a Soul depicting art, and The Other Side of the Coin, a religious format. After two years and two awards later for “Best of the Northwest Video Awards”, Aurora and Javier moved to Washington.

After Reflections with Javier, I did a political show called Counter Spin with Roger Pike. This ran for a year.

For the last 18 months I have been producing, directing, and editing a series called Public Pulse which is dedicated to social and mental health workers, showing episodes of professionals who work in these fields and the people who have been affected by the many facets of addiction, mental illness, homelessness, depression, etc.

I have done other series for other non-profit agencies and I'm currently working on two more, along with doing Public Pulse. This work is done on a volunteer basis, that includes the crew that works on my shows.

Individuals who complete the classes gain more experience by volunteering to work on other productions as camera person, audio, or technical director or volunteer to work on CCTV productions.

Now I haven’t been telling you this to “thump my own back,” but to let you know what you can do to have a public voice and be able to express your creative ideas, political views, social interests, religious interests, or your sports views in a very fun and entertaining, yet serious way. It is work and it does take commitment, but it is worth it.

Do you want to just sit at home and watch the events unfold on regular television shows or do you want to become actively involved in making your own shows? This is what public access television is all about. It is the development of people becoming aware they can produce a show that expresses their creative thoughts or interests.

Your public voice is important and is a viable way to contribute to your community. It is not only for adults but for young people, too.

There have been many children, from ages seven through their teens in the program, and after graduating from high school, some have gone on to gain employment in this field or other related journalistic areas.

Productions utilize PEG (Public, Educational, Government) access equipment managed by CCTV, so commercial free programs are the rule. A monetary profit is not one of the “rewards” you will receive, but you will receive confidence, self-esteem, recognition, and you will have a whole lot of fun becoming a part of this public voice highway.

CCTV’s Mission Statement states it very well: “Empowering people to communicate and providing community information through television.”

So as you can see, this reporter has two great loves: Public access television and as a reporter for internet news!

For further information concerning public access television, follow these links (there are many more, but these should spark your interest even further):

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

Lela September 23, 2006 4:17 pm (Pacific time)

Albert, thank you. You always make my day! To me television is entertainment and also a learning tool and it takes me to some of the most entertaining places, especially to worlds beyond in the outer spaces of our universe.

Albert Marnell September 21, 2006 8:49 pm (Pacific time)

Dear Lela, You are intelligent enough to sift through the garbage on the tube to find things that can help a person grow. Unfortunately most people do not have your discerning skills.

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