Marshfield Community Television Joins in National Community Media Day Celebrations
October 20 is Community Media Day, a national day to celebrate and bring awareness to the importance of free speech and accessible media for all individuals to have their voices heard.
Joining the celebration is local Marshfield Community Television (MCTV), which is more than a traditional public access station. Encompassing three channels, with a respective focus on Public, Education, and Government programming, MCTV is an award-winning station recognized throughout the midwest for its top-notch productions and quality programming.
“It’s a creative outlet for the community,” said Production Manager Brett Butler. “People come here to express their passions.”
Programming encompasses everything from church services to cooking shows, sporting events to nonprofit features, talk shows to documentaries. Members of the community can learn how to operate a camera and equipment through a formal community producer course which then qualifies them to check out gear and produce their own programs.
Community producer Rachel Zaleski learned how to produce a program at MCTV, and now produces a weekly sports program with her husband, Jason. Zaleski also serves on the Cable TV Committee as co-chair.
“I think MCTV is valuable to the community because it can bring change and growth by being a catalyst and vehicle for the individual community producers,” said Zaleski. “MCTV provides excellent programming to the community built on cornerstones such as great management skills, open communication, creative listening and tackling challenges head-on together as a team. These values are important to continue successful programming in the future for the Marshfield Community and beyond.”
Citizens can volunteer in numerous ways. Carrie Gillaspie, a graduate of UW-Milwaukee, was looking for ways to give back to her community while keeping her skills sharp. Since joining the MCTV team in 2014, Gillaspie has hosted dozens of programs for the station, and credits community media as an important medium.
“Community media is so important because it serves its community wholeheartedly. no networks trying to get ratings, no trying to compete for ad spaces, none of the fluff that gets in the way,” she said. “It’s just people who genuinely care about their community and want to inform their citizens and highlight their wonderful city. it’s the purest form of television there is.”
A contracted service with the City of Marshfield, MCTV is governed by a Cable Committee and managed by an independent media contractor. Funded outside of tax dollars, the station is sustained by cable franchise fees. With a fully operational television studio, editing suites, and control room, MCTV staff and volunteers film, edit, produce, and broadcast (both on-air and online) hundreds of original programs every year.
Longtime community producers and supporters Don Nystrom and Dean Markwardt have been with MCTV since the 1970’s and attest to its importance.
“Community cable TV access has come a long way since the days when someone had to go to Marshfield High School in the evening to put a VHS cassette in a player and push the PLAY button. And before that, someone had to haul an open reel video machine out to the old cable head-end on Hi-Way E, hook it up, wait around while the program played, and then tear it all down,” recalled Markwardt. “Virtually all production then was done by a high school video club. But now with a dedicated studio, a full-time staff, and lots of volunteers and community producers, there is a wealth of content and, thanks to the Internet, round the clock access.”
“Local media provides an outlet for individuals and organizations to inform and to promote ideas and events,” said Nystrom, who has served as Chair of the Cable TV Committee in the past and continues to produce and host programs. “Local government units share vital information about what we need to know about our community. The variety of media outlets is a plus to the community and has a positive impact on our quality of life in our hometown.”
As a free resource for local nonprofits, MCTV provides an important community service.
“For nonprofits, they are looking for exposure that they wouldn’t be able to get otherwise,” said Butler. “MCTV can provide them with a quality finished product that they can then use to help fundraise, promote events, and raise awareness for their cause.”
Additionally, MCTV is responsible for the recording and broadcast of local government meetings, including Common Council, Board of Public Works, Plan Commission, and more.
“MCTV is an important part of City government because without it the public may not know
what happens in meetings,” said Butler. “We provide transparency that helps educate citizens and encourage involvement while being completely unbiased. It’s literally the meetings as they happen with no editorial comments added on.”
“Public Access channels are a crucial source for communicating with residents for many local units of government,” said Mayor Chris Meyer. “In addition to providing information to the public, our public access channel provides an opportunity for residents to produce their own programming and broadcast it to the rest of our community. MCTV has a long history of providing quality content to our viewers as well as providing equipment and training to aspiring producers to develop their own programs.”
Along with government coverage, MCTV is also an important asset for communication between the City and its residents, something that has been at the forefront of discussion this past year.
“MCTV is a vital avenue of communication for the community. It provides a resource for people of all ages to enjoy and actively participate in community productions, providing information, programming and media to the community at large and allowing community members to engage personally in filming and creating that information, programming and media,” said Cable Committee Chair Alanna Feddick. “Marshfield is blessed to have MCTV. I trust it will continue and improve in the future, and that is what the Cable Committee is striving to accomplish. We welcome all submissions, comments and questions.”
Citizens are welcome and encouraged to become active in community media.
“Think of the void MCTV would leave if it was no longer here to show government meetings, present discussions of local issues, and celebrate what Marshfield has built together?” said Wisconsin Community Media Executive Director Mary Cardona. “With so much focus today on what is going on in Washington, community media asks us to turn our attention back to our neighbors, our schools, and our government and think ‘What can I do to contribute? What can I do to make a better community for all of us?’”
“Most people still don’t realize, however, that anyone can produce video for the community
cable channel,” added Markwardt. “I have long been disappointed that the many people in the area with the creative potential have not taken advantage of this resource to broadcast original programming over the system. You don’t need a studio and you don’t need professional equipment. Anyone with a smartphone, some editing capability, and a little time can use Marshfield Community Television to find an audience for their creativity.”
Supporting the values of free speech and allowing for the expression of diverse points of view, MCTV recognizes community diversity and encourages communication, emphasizes community, and promotes participatory democracy. Other values include encouraging artistic expression, providing public interest programming, expanding educational access, and enhancing communication within the community.
MCTV can be viewed on Charter Cable Channels 989, 990, and 991, and online at www.MarshfieldTv.com.