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Focus Springfield brings state of the art cable access to city


May 29, 2014
<strong>The studio at the new Focus Springfield Community Television will be able to have  a studio audience of 100 people.</strong> <br>Reminder Publications photo by Peter Spotts

The studio at the new Focus Springfield Community Television will be able to have a studio audience of 100 people.
Reminder Publications photo by Peter Spotts

By G. Michael Dobbs
news@thereminder.com

SPRINGFIELD – Next month the brown paper that blocks the views at the ground floor of the building at 1200 Main St. will be down and Springfield residents will see a state of the art cable access television station for Focus Springfield Community Television.

Station Manager Stephen Cary explained to Reminder Publications a ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for June 23, which will coincide with the launch of its new website.

The nonprofit television studio currently broadcasts government meetings, such as those of the City Council and as well as programs produced by churches and other individuals. Cary, though, as well as Executive Director John Abbott, see the potential for programming going beyond the current offerings.

The new station used to be office space and almost 7,000 square feet in size. The lobby is where people who are producing their own programs will check in and out equipment and where a large map of the city will be installed showing where shooting is taking place.

The main studio is large enough for a studio audience more than 100 people, Cary noted. Abbott added that when the studio is not being used for television production, it would serve as a community meeting space.

The studio has a computer controlled lighting system with LED lights that will save money. One wall of the room has a green screen to add addition production values to programs.

There is a small second studio that is complete with an editing and recording suite and down the hall is a “green room” where guests for programs can wait as well as a classroom with computers stations for four students and an instructor.

The location is a feature as well. “Public access television here is anything but accessible,” Cary said the studio was located at Van Sickle Middle School. The new studio is in the center of the downtown at the corner of State and Main streets and is on a bus line, he noted.

By making the studio easier to reach, Cary believes the new programming will be “more wide and diverse.” He said he is interested in broadcasting high school sports, for example. The auditorium at the Van Sickle Middle School will remain wired, which will afford the station an 800-seat venue for broadcasting.

Cary knows there are viewers for the current programming because once when the station went dark for six hours due to technical problems, “the phone banks at City Hall lit up.”

Funded by the Cable Endowment, Abbott said that underwriting of programs is an additional way the station could raise revenue and increase offerings and services.

Although the station is in the proposed campus of the MGM Springfield building, both Cary and Abbott said the building will not be sold to the casino company, but leased and that MGM has expressed interest in working with them.

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