Jones TV filling a niche with wide variety of programming
By Mattie Watson
Jones TV’s Jerry Clinton, Lance Herring and Josh Irwin
in the Jones TV control room.
I’m lounging on my couch late one evening flipping through the channels on TV.
TBS, click! ABC, click! CW, click! Click! Click! Click! Click!
There is nothing on!
But wait! I’ve hit “Bonanza.” It’s a favorite. Reminds me of watching westerns on Saturday morning with my dad when I was a child. What channel has “Bonanza” on at 11 p.m.?
The answer … Jones Television. Channel 22 on Cox Cable. Did you know that the Jones Center for Families in Springdale has a TV channel? Neither did I.
With my curiosity aroused, I looked to see if Jones TV has a Web site. It does. It’s www.jonestv.org and you can find the history of the nonprofit channel, an episode guide of the day’s offerings and brief descriptions of the shows that the seven-member staff produces in-house.
I was surprised to find out that Jones TV not only airs “Bonanza” but “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Laurel and Hardy” and several other classic TV shows. Also unique to the channel is Classic Arts Showcase, basically music videos for the arts, ballets, operas, classical music and more.
I wanted to know more so I called Jerry Oliver, one of the producers at Jones TV. We met on a Wednesday morning and Oliver showed me around the practically new station. He explained that Jones TV is a nonprofit, commercial-free station, which serves as an outlet for regional information.
According to the Web site, Jones TV operates 24 hours a day and airs on cable channel 22 in Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers and Springdale. The station reaches more than 150,000 households in Benton and Washington counties and is supported by Cox Communications.
Oliver said that Jones TV is community and nonprofit driven.
“We are here to support the community and what they do,” Oliver said.
With the community utmost in their minds, the staff of Jones TV carefully selects the types of programs it airs.
“We try and get as (many) nonprofits in here (as possible) and we try to support all the nonprofits we can. That’s really our main focus. And then, if we do get a chance to do something a little more fun or entertainment wise, we do. But we always go the educational nonprofit route first,” Oliver said.
One project Jones TV is getting ready to tackle is to increase sponsorships of their locally produced programs and to get the word out about the best-kept secret in Northwest Arkansas.
“Right now we really need to start being able to sustain ourselves because for a long time they’ve (Jones Trust) been giving us money and giving us money and giving us money and we haven’t really been doing anything (to support ourselves) so what we are trying to do is get more sponsorships,” Oliver said. He also mentioned that the station accepts donations.
When a business or person sponsors a show, they get a mention at the start of the program. For instance, the Fayetteville Free Weekly is sponsoring “Front Row,” a program that profiles local musicians. The featured artist for this season’s first “Front Row” segment will be Candy Lee and will air Aug. 26.
Jones TV airs such a wide variety of programs I wondered where the station got the shows they air. Oliver said they produce some locally and others are classic TV shows, films and documentaries that have entered the public domain. Oliver said that if a viewer wants to see a particular classic show, he can research it to find out if it is in the public domain and can be aired.
The local shows are produced at the station or shot on location. Some of the locally produced shows are “All Pets Considered” a weekly program that features adoptable animals, “Front Row,” “Family Health Today,” “Yoga with Andrea,” “The Scrapbooking Studio,” “A Natural State of Living Green” and “Karrie on Canvas.”
A show that has a special place in Oliver’s heart is “All Pets Considered.”
“I think it is one of the best services we can provide, especially if you are an animal lover.” Which he is. He has a dog.
Oliver said Jones TV has its own YouTube channel so viewers can watch shows via the Internet.
“The Scrapbooking Studio” is not very popular on TV based on feedback from viewers, Oliver said, but it is extremely popular on the Internet. He suspects that the popularity comes from the show being “on demand.” People can pause the show and do scrapbooking along with the host.
The most popular show on Jones TV, according to Oliver, is “Drug Court.” Jones TV puts together highlights from the Washington-Madison County Drug Court proceedings with Judge Mary Ann Gunn.
Clips from these episodes can be found on www.YouTube.com/JonesTelevision22. The most recent posting shows the graduation of former Razorback Matt Jones from drug court. This clip has received 254 views, according to the YouTube Web site.
Tracking The Numbers
I asked Oliver how Jones TV tracks the station’s television viewership numbers.
“It’s difficult for us to measure the viewership, because we don’t have enough money for a Nielsen scan (a company that measures what television shows people are watching),” Oliver said.
He said they rely on the feedback they get from the TV shows via phone calls and e-mail, and they also rely on the Internet.
“We are able to track the viewers (via the Internet) and see where they are coming from,” Oliver said. “I think it’s interesting that a lot of the stuff that airs on the station that we put on the Web … ends up getting more views outside of Northwest Arkansas. It’s a whole new audience.”
Jerry Clinton, right, and Lance Herring prep the stage for Candy Lee.
State Of The Art Studio
Information from the Web site reports that Jones TV is designed to accommodate its state-of-the-art equipment. The station has four nonlinear digital editing bays, a control room, a conference room, video archive storage and more than 1,000 square feet of studio space accommodating three permanent sets. The new station (they just moved in three years ago) can be found on East Emma Avenue in Springdale in the Harvey Jones Health Education Building.
In looking at the impressive new building, I wondered “Who’s idea was this anyway?” I asked Oliver but he didn’t know for certain so we walked over to visit Mike Berenbrok, Jones TV station manager.
Berenbrok said the idea was Joel Carver’s brainchild and it took about a year to go from idea to reality. Carver is one of the trustees of the Harvey and Bernice Jones Trust.
Berenbrok said initially the station only aired events that happened at the Jones Center for Families. The first program aired on the channel was the Jones Center’s Christmas ice show in December of 1996, Berenbrok said. The first locally produced show to air was “Family Health Today.”
Jones TV has come a long way since 1996 and is building a regional and national reputation for excellence as reflected in the many honors and national awards they’ve received. According to the Web site those awards include:
- 2008 Bronze “Telly” (Front Row: Radio Sky)
- 2008 Bronze “Telly” (The Changing Face of Breast Cancer)
- 2007 Hermes Creative Awards-Platinum (Be a H.I.P. Mentor)
- 2007 Videographer Awards (Spring Break/Mad Scientist)
- 2007 Videographer Awards (Winds of Change)
- 2006 Aurora Platinum Best of Show (Jold Award (Winds of Change)
- 2005 Crystal Communicator (Please Tell the World/Live Event)
- 2005 Crystal Communicator (I’m Just a Little Girl/Social Issues)
- 2005 Crystal Communicator (Winds of Change/Bernice Jones) Videography
- 2005 Crystal Communicator (Winds of Change/Bernice Jones) Tribute
- 2005 Bronze “Telly” (I’m Just a Little Girl/Children’s House)
- 2005 Bronze “Telly” (Family Man/Early Intervention)
- 2005 Bronze “Telly” (Please Tell the World)
- 2005 Silver “Davy” (Please Tell the World)
A Talented Team
And you know what awarding winning shows means, right? It means there are some really talented and smart people staffing Jones TV.
Tim Crane is the newest member of the Jones Television family and serves as the executive director. According to the Web site, Crane worked at Wal-Mart for more than 28 years and helped grow Wal-Mart’s internal video production and broadcast department from a single camera operation to the current digital/HDTV facility in use nager and is the technical supervisor and programming coordinator. A graduate of the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland, Berenbrok has extensive experience in all aspects of TV production and oversees in-studio and on-location shoots.
Lance Herring is the technical coordinator and provides technical, engineering and audio/visual support. He also shoots, edits, directs and produces.
Producer Deborah Singer has 10 years of experience in broadcast news, the Web site states. She has worked for FOX, NBC, ABC and CBS news affiliates across the southeast as main anchor, reporter and producer.
Josh Irwin began his TV production career at 14. Graduating from Full Sail Real World Education with a degree in film and video production, he is currently directing his own feature length film, “Satisfy my Soul.”
Jerry Oliver graduated with honors from the Vancouver Film School in 2007. He is the creator of “Front Row” and produces “A Natural State of Living Green.”
Carolyn Long is an award-winning, veteran broadcast journalist in both the commercial and nonprofit television arenas. As senior producer, writer and nonprofit media consultant, she develops local programming with the latest being “Sushi 101,” which she co-hosts with sushi chef, Jonathan Park, and “Believe it … or Else!” with newsman Guy Westmoland.
With the area being chock-full of filmmakers and student filmmakers, I asked Oliver about producing a program that would offer these people a place to have their work aired.
“We are definitely not opposed to that if someone wants to bring something in (for possible broadcast),” Oliver said. But it must be “within limits.”
He explained that Jones TV is not a public access broadcast station and programming must fit within the purpose of the nonprofit station.
Guidelines for submitting programming for possible broadcast are listed on the Web site under the “Shows” tab.
“We’ll look at anything and if we think that we can (do something with it), we (would need) to build a half-hour block, which I’d love to do.” Crane said.
Jones TV is also a place to learn the basics of TV and film production through volunteering at the station.
“If you want to volunteer, anybody who wants to learn (can), it’s a great learning experience,” Oliver said.
Oliver said that Jones TV stays on top of the game in regards to editing equipment, production and post-production. They are also Blu-ray and high definition capable. He said the benefits of spending time at Jones TV are numerous.
“If you come here (to volunteer) you are going to see how a TV show is put together or how a documentary is put together; and, how it’s planned out,” he said. “And you’ll probably have more of an opportunity to be a creative role in shows here.”
Oliver said that the time he spent at Jones TV before going to film school was of great help to him.
“If you are interested in going to film school, spending three or four months here … you have no idea of the kind of preparation you are going to get,” he said. “When you go to film school you are already going to be miles ahead of a lot of people. I mean you learn a lot just being here and actually doing things, you learn a lot more.”
Where to find Jones TV
- Cox Channel 22