Curry County Voices, the new programming on the county’s Public, Education and Government (PEG) channel 182, will debut with a forum to introduce commissioner and state senate and representative candidates running for office this fall.

The live taping — for which only 100 seats are available — begins at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 22 in the multipurpose room at Curry Public Library’s new Haug Learning Center on Third Street in Gold Beach.

Candidates will make opening and closing statements and respond to questions from the audience.

The forum will then be on Charter channel 182 and replayed at least three times a week until voting ends Nov. 6. It will also be available for viewing at any time on the Curry County Voices website.

History of PEG

Getting the PEG channel operational has taken longer than anticipated, said Carl King, one of the original five PEG Task Force members appointed by the board of county commissioners.

In 2015, the county attorney warned commissioners they would lose the government channels if it didn’t start broadcasting something. Additionally, they would have to refund the franchise fees collected from Charter subscribers that are designated for government, public and educational programming.

They’d have to start from the ground up, King noted.

The county commissioner’s hearing room, in which government-oriented meetings could be filmed for the channel, had no speakers, and desktop microphones merely fed the equipment that put meetings on the channel.

And the equipment often crashed, sometimes bringing down the county’s servers with it.

The task force agreed that, in order to not lose the channel, it would first need to update the audio/visual equipment — and in the second phase just coming to fruition today, find a place in which to produce other PEG programming.

The county updated its meeting rooms’ audio visual equipment and in the spring of 2017, money was donated to buy camera and editing equipment for outside use. Donors included the Rotary Club of Gold Beach, with $2,000 that was matched by the Rotary District 5110; that fall, the Gold Beach Community Fund approved a $2,500 grant and the Gold Beach Rotary Foundation contributed another $1,000, King said.

The BOC also gave Curry County Voices three days a week — Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, so as not to interfere with any county government meetings — on channel 182 for educational and governmental programs. To count as “new programming” and keep the channel, King said, shows must be aired three times a week for 12 weeks. And, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on those days, 70 percent of the time must be used airing new programs.

More than $15,000 in equipment — laptops, cameras, tripods, editing computers — has since been acquired, and training began this spring for people and organizations that might be interested in using it to create their own programming.

In August, editing trainings were held in the Harald Haug Learning Center at the library in Gold Beach, which had been undergoing massive renovations and additions to update its tech center.

“The ideal way this works,” King said, “is your entity — your nonprofit, government entity, special district, school — can come and say, ‘We want programming on your channel.’ We’ll train them, check out the equipment for them to film, edit … Then we’ll put it on the air.”

It is estimated to cost $18,000 a year to keep the program running, King said. Some of that will go to Brandt Media, the firm that helps the county with its audio-visual tech needs; the remainder for liability insurance, which can be expensive when you’re allowing the public to film what they want.

“It’s been a labor of love,” King said of Rotary’s involvement in the project. “But it’s (the group’s full support) not going to last forever. If we can nudge it along and go the right direction for another year, we’ll find a home for it — another group to take it over.”

All the contracts involved, too — with the county for the PEG channel, with Brandt Media for the technical expertise and that with the library for the space — end at the end of 2019.

King would like to see a new group take over the operations and sponsors step up, like those for National Public Radio, to keep the station on-air in the future.

What to film?

King envisions an array of possibilities that meet the qualifications for a PEG channel: travelogues, legislative hearings, art discussions and presentations of the Wild and Scenic Rivers in Curry County were among the examples he cited.

Events already filmed include a kickball tournament and Curry Community Health’s Hurry Curry Scurry foot race at Salmon Run golf course in Brookings last Saturday.

Other events could include monthly programs highlighting school news and produced by students; interviews with veterans, and services provided by local healthcare providers. King is brainstorming with Curry Community Health, Curry Health Network and Coastal Community Health officials to make that a reality.

A big part of the equation for King is bringing students into the realm of media and technology. Events, programs and teacher interviews are all possible subjects, he said.

“It could be written, edited, produced by the students,” he said. “That’s where it’s really worth it.”

Tuesday morning, King received notice from Gold Beach High School that at least eight students have expressed interest in the program; a teacher there plans to make a school-wide notification of its availability.

Another idea he has is to create digital school yearbooks and have sponsors — parents, for example — to pay for the production.

King is also looking for people interested in participating in proposed programs such as “Just What They Do,” highlighting special district or county government department work, coverage of special district or city meetings and school sports and other activities.

“I’m not CNN,” King said. “I don’t produce programing like ABC. You give me a program, we’ll put it on. There are things other than BOC (commissioner) meetings that should be televised. It’s exciting.”

For more information about Curry County Voices or Saturday’s forum, contact King at 617-816-3835.

Curry County Voices Candidate Forum

Date: Saturday, Sept. 22

Doors open: 1 p.m.

Forum: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Who: County commissioner, state Senate and House representative candidates

Note: Seating limited to the first 100 people

Reach Jane Stebbins at jstebbins@currypilot.com .

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