Get your own television show
By Richard Davis
TFW Staff Writer
It’s often said the best way to keep government honest is to have a strong, free press, and what’s freer than a television show created by you using the publicly owned equipment at Fayetteville Public Access Television.
Of course, your show doesn’t have to be political. It could be about shooting silly string out of your nose.
“One of the basic tenets of what we do here at Public Access Television is that we have no control whatsoever on the content of a show, that the person who produces them absolutely owns and has all the control of the content,” Anne Shelley, Your Media executive director, the service provide for Fayetteville Public Access. “Now there’s certain technical issues everyone has to abide by so that their shows actually are televised, but beyond that we really are just the vessel here for people to use to do whatever artistically or creatively or spiritually or politically they want to do on television.”
Your Media is the reborn and retooled version of Community Access Television — It’s CAT! Mwrar! — which has been the city’s chosen service provider for Public Access for a number of years. Your Media took over as the service provider for Public Access on Jan. 1 with an emphasis on educating Fayetteville residents — for free — to learn how to make their own television using the Public Access Television Center’s state-of-the-art video production equipment. Shelley said last year the service provider was offering essentially one class a week. By the end of the first quarter this year, Shelley said Your Media had already done 64 classes.
“We really are all about providing the education and the venue for people in Fayetteville to have their voice heard, televise their own productions that they’ve done and really exercise the First Amendment in a way that, really I don’t know of any other city that has this kind of commitment to First Amendment rights and a willingness to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to learn this kind of medium,” Shelley said.
The result? A lot of new Fayetteville residents becoming producers — 27 as of the end of June, Shelley said. Relax, new faces doesn’t mean old favorites have gone away. Dan Vega and Roger Henry are still pumping out “One Whirled View,” and “On the Air with Richard S. Drake” is celebrating 20 years of being … on the air as of July.
With the retooling of CAT into Your Media, the organization also expanded what it does. While the city of Fayetteville remains their biggest client, Shelley said Your Media is using its own separate offices and equipment to do affordable media production for nonprofit and community organizations.
“An example is we’re working with Spring International, which is part of the University of Arkansas, and we’re putting together a program for 20 Afghan women that are coming to be part of a program Spring International is doing and we’re going to add a video empowerment project piece so that they can document their time here,” Shelley said.
One thing that remains the same at Public Access and Your Media is a program called “Short Takes.” On Mondays between 5 and 6 p.m. and Thursdays between 11 a.m. and noon, any Fayetteville resident can come in and have the cameras turned on them for up to five minutes of air time.
“So they don’t even have to take a class. They just have to show that they live in Fayetteville, and they have five minutes of free telecast time,” Shelley said.
Naturally, the result is some interesting takes on politics, religion and more. A couple of young brothers — Shelley guessed about age 13 and 9 — even offered their tips on how to pick up girls at the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market.
“Something about hair and swagger, if I remember right,” Shelley said.
For a list of classes, program schedules and more, go to faypublic.tv and your-media.org.