Long-time viewers of Dunkirk's Local Access 12 cable television station will see a change soon. City officials are planning to hire a company based in the SUNY Fredonia Technology Incubator to run the station's day-to-day operations.
In will be V3 Studios, which will run the station as TRR Productions. Out is Christa Haynes, the only programming coordinator in the nearly 30 years of the station's existence. Cable Board Chairman Danny McGill will also be limited in his work with the station.
Mayor Anthony J. Dolce said Haynes was notified of the change at a recent meeting that McGill was unable to attend due to illness. Dolce was asked about the motivation behind the change.
OBSERVER File Photo by Gib Snyder
Pictured are Dunkirk Cable Board Chairman Danny McGill and Program Coordinator Christa Haynes when they met with Common Council during budget reviews in November. Council will be asked to approve a resolution Tuesday that will pay V3 Studios/TRR Productions $1,000 per month to run the operations of the Local Access 12 station.
"Basically it started, I'd say even early on last year with council, a great deal of council concerns and morphed into more and more from the public," Dolce replied. "We worked and were able to get an intern from Fredonia State in there that was never really utilized to its fullest potential. Basically, just a lot of concern from the public as far as programming.
"Attending a few cable board meetings and knowing that Christa did not have the amount of volunteers that she had in the past and wasn't able to produce as many shows without the volunteers, we felt the need to find some people who could round up some volunteers and get the station to what Danny and Christa had it before."
Dolce was asked if there was a "final straw' that prompted the change.
"No," he replied. "I think collectively, between the public becoming increasingly curious as to what's going on with the station, and council, myself included, just felt it was time. Christa and Danny had done a tremendous job over the years building up Access 12, but the volunteers weren't there like they were before. We felt it was time to find some people who could bring us the level of programming the public desired."
Dolce said both McGill and Haynes were more than welcome to stay on the Cable Board and/or as volunteers for Access 12.
"But V3/TRR productions will be taking over the programming and day-to-day operations," he added.
McGill is still the chairman if he chooses to be, Dolce stated.
"They are to act in an advisory role so if they would like to provide advice or suggestions on programming they're welcome to do so. I know the gentlemen from TRR have expressed a desire to work hand-in-hand with the Cable Board," he added.
TRR will be paid $1,000 per month, according to the terms of the resolution. Asked what viewers will be getting for the money, Dolce replied "many things."
"They'll get a studio that will be inviting, one that they will encourage the public to take part in, tour, be active, volunteer," he replied. "They'll get a great deal of programming and what I think you'll see is a professionalism to the station and one that the citizens of Dunkirk will be proud of."
Part of council's concern was the lack of live coverage of their meetings due to difficulties with getting the proper line installed between City Hall and the Stearns Building location of the station's studios. It didn't make city officials happy either that sometimes the meetings weren't even recorded for future viewing.
Dolce said the technical end was an issue the city and Time Warner needed to work out.
"We need to work with our government relations rep from Time Warner; however, the person that occupied that position is no longer with them," he explained. "We have not discovered who our new rep will be so there's some things to work out there."
The mayor was looking forward to a new energy at Access 12.
"These guys will be bringing a ton of new ideas. I know they have been working with Fredonia State, not only the television station but the radio station, to get them on our Access 12. They'll be getting a couple of shows on from Fredonia State," he said. "They will be looking to do our subcommittee meetings as well as regular common council meetings, so we'll hope for more there; possibly DLDC meetings, IDA, there's a whole host.
"Obviously, the public loves the sporting events so we'll look to continue that. If they can recruit the volunteers like we think they can we'll see a nice array of programming."
According to Dolce, the Access 12 studios will remain in the Stearns Building and TRR will answer to council and his office.
"I just want to thank Christa and Danny and all the volunteers for what they've done over the years," Dolce added. "It's just one of those things where we felt it was time to go in a different direction and give some people an opportunity to see what they can do."
For her part, Haynes said she will miss the volunteers and City Hall people she worked with over the years.
"They have all been great to work with, all the former mayors and council members who have gone above and beyond helping Access 12, whether it be signing purchase orders to buy equipment or their volunteering with us for special events," she added. "I have gained knowledge that I would not have gotten if I didn't volunteer with Access 12."
She added thanks to her family for putting up with her missing events they were in.
"In the long run, I was doing it for my community, helping show programs that people just couldn't get out to see," she stated.
According to information on the Incubator website, V3 Studios was started by Andre Cobham and Michael Carbone and began as about 70 SUNY Fredonia students producing a high-quality, web-based news program "The Raphy Report." After roughly 500 episodes, TRR came to a close, and its staff and crew moved on to work on a variety of other projects. Cobham and Carbone continue to run V3 Studios, along with Michael Spacone and Jeff Brock.
Council is expected to take up the resolution making the change at its meeting Tuesday.
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