Carl King remembers fondly the days when people could walk into his hometown public television studio and film educational pieces to be aired for the community.
And the Nesika Beach man is close to bringing that here with his “Curry County Voices.”
It used to be cable companies were required to provide facilities for public programs. The law changed and franchisees were required to provide one to two channels for such programming, King said.
The county currently uses channel 181 to livestream its regular meetings — and King thought he might be able to use the second channels made available through those franchise agreements.
Funds for PEG — public, education and government — are paid through a 65-cent charge to cable TV subscribers. It generates about $13,000 a year, but was never used.
“And the channel was dark,” he said. “It wasn’t functioning.”
Former County Attorney Jerry Herbage told commissioners if they didn’t use that second channel, Charter had the right to take it and the accumulated PEG money back. At one point, there was almost $100,000 in that coffer; it stands at about $30,000 after big-screen TVs, audio-visual equipment and new microphones were installed in two county meeting rooms last year.
The Rotary club in Gold Beach got a $2,000 matching grant from its district offices, the Gold Beach Rotary Foundation offered another $1,000, and they recently applied for $2,500 from the Gold Beach Community Fund.
“We have the grants to make and produce material,” King told county commissioners in a recent meeting where he asked them to free up $15,000 from the county’s PEG money to buy equipment. “This is the end of the line. Our grants are expiring. We need to approve this today, or it’s not going to go forward.”
Commissioners were sold.
“Curry County Voices”
The televised programming King plans to make will involve youth and community members interested in educating people about public, education or government issues. The programs made by ““Curry County Voices”” will be broadcast on Charter’s cable channel 182 under a permit granted by the county to the Gold Beach Rotary Foundation.
Brandt Media, which supplies the audio/visual equipment and backup for the county, has agreed to assist CCV by training people how to use equipment and produce content. King hopes to have the first field-training day June 6.
King faces a few hurdles: Charter said they needed to upgrade equipment to accommodate two channels. The franchise agreement expires next summer. The district Rotary grant has a deadline in which to be used. He needs to have enough material to broadcast 70 percent of the time between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m.
Currently, commissioners broadcast board meetings on Channel 181 live and then again at 5:30 p.m., at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. the day after a meeting, Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Tuesdays and Sundays at 11 p.m.
While those extra rebroadcasts could be eliminated to make room for “Voices,” King said he’d be happy to host the county meetings on Channel 182.
It was suggested “Voices” be aired on weekends when students have time to work on the programming. Board of commissioner meeting content would always take precedent, said County Attorney John Huttl.
“We will crawl before we start to walk,” King said.
He is close to an arrangement with the Gold Beach library to establish a studio in the learning center — and have the first school-generated program — sometime this summer, and plans to put programs on a website currently under construction.
The array of programming possibilities are almost limitless, King said.
Educational could include almost anything underway at any of Curry County’s schools. Or it could be educational in nature, such as how residents should be prepared for natural disasters — or how entities such as search and rescue work in such emergencies.
Public programming could entail events, issues and discussion in the community. Government could comprise district, county and city meetings.
King envisions a youth news program — say, the Riley Creek News — in which youth write, film, produce and edit a news magazine.
“It could be a walk through their garden,” King said of the school’s cafeteria garden. “Or an interview with a student, a teacher.”
The youth who produce Beaver News for KCIW, a local nonprofit podcast, have expressed interest, as well.
Paying for it could eventually come from sponsors, as commercial space is not permitted on PEG channels. King wonders if they would be permitted to focus on nonprofits or even businesses without crossing a legal line about using public funds.
“Ultimately, we could livestream,” King said. “District meetings, Curry Health Network meetings, performances, sports.”
The board of Curry General Hospital board meets Thursday where it will discuss cablecasting using “Voices” as its medium.
Eventually, King hopes to establish studios in Brookings and Port Orford, as well, and make “Curry County Voices” financially self-sustaining.
Live-stream is the new media of choice, King believes, as demand for cable diminishes.
“It’s building momentum,” he said. “When the new library extension opens, the technology will be tops.”
Reach Jane Stebbins at email@example.com .