Paige worked with us as a “work-study” student this past September - January, during her junior year at Black River. She served as a liaison between the Ludlow schools and us, soliciting news & information from them to post on our bulletin board, producing videos, and coordinating other productions. Her independent work included productions for the Elementary School, including the "Let's Grow Kids" event and with the after school program on a fun little kid dance video. We are looking forward to working with her again during her senior year.
Former Board member and Okemo Valley TV volunteer Sharon Combes-Farr is our 2018 Community Service award recipient. After serving for 5 years on our Board of Directors, Sharon has moved out of Town, to Westmoreland, NH. We wish her well in her newly-adopted community.
Sharon spent 2 as our Board President, 2 as V.P., and helped to lead our marketing & fundraising efforts for most of her tenure. In particular, she helped to turn our annual fundraiser, the Derby Gala, into a dependable and organized event that consistently raises $4-5K per year for us. She also helped to form a Marketing Committee, steering us in a position where we market and promote ourselves more effectively. She was a proven and effective leader on the Board. We wanted to thank her with this token of appreciation, for helping to strengthen her hometown TV station.
The 2018 "Producer of the Year" award went to Kelly Kingsbury, on behalf of Ludlow Baptist Church. Our station has had a long-lasting relationship with the church, dating back 13 years. Kelly's father, Fenwick Kingsbury, began recording Sunday services for the church, using our camera and sound equipment, in 2005. In the beginning, the "labor of love" was a multi-step process that involved Fenwick being a regular fixture in our former one-room facility in the Ludlow Elementary School Building. He would pick up the equipment each Friday, returning it on Monday mornings, when he would he would "capture" the videotape onto the editing system (in real time...things were a little different then). He would come back once or twice throughout the week to finish the edit, so we could have it ready to televise over the weekend.
(Photo on left: Kelly receives award on behalf of Ludlow Baptist Church, from Executive Director Patrick Cody).
Fenwick passed away in 2011, but his legacy and the tradition have carried on. For several years now, Fenwick's daughter, Kelly, has recorded the weekly services, and has shared in the editing duties with Roger Croswell, who delivers the finished product to us each week. All of this is handled electronically, off site. While the church now owns its own equipment and technology has helped, this process has continued, week in & week out over the years. Ludlow Baptist Church services have been a mainstay of our programming this whole time - we can set our clocks to it. We thank Kelly and Roger for keeping it going, and remember Fenwick for the foundation he built.
(Fenwick Kingsbury, editing in our old facility in the Elementary School, circa 2005).
The 2018 Okemo Valley TV Outstanding Achievement Award has been given to Marji Graf, who for the past 10 years led the Okemo Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce. Since Marji was moving and starting her new job in Maryland before our Awards Ceremony & Open House, Executive Director Patrick Cody presented her with the award at the June 20th Chamber mixer, which served as her going away party (thanks to Doanld Dill, we'll soon be televising some video coverage of that event). During her time with the Chamber, Marji produced her monthly series, "Okemo Valley- Your Place in Vermont" with us. She started the show in 2008 and kept it going up until this month, when she recorded her final show. Marji serves as an excellent example of how community TV can be used as a promotional tool. Through the production her show, she made regular use of our services to promote Chamber activities and the business community throughout the region. We were a tool for her, which she put to good and effective use, and in turn, we received a steady stream of current programming. We wish Marji Well!
(photo credit: Donald Dill)
Once again, Black River H.S. student Natasha Fortin is competing in the National History Day documentary competition. National History Day is taking place this week, just outside of Washington, D.C. at the University of Maryland. Pictured here is Natasha with DVD copies of her documentary, just before leaving for the 10-hour road trip. She gained this honor after finishing in first place at the Vermont History Day competition in April. This year, Natasha's project is a short documentary on Nichelle Nichols' ground-breaking role in Star Trek. The production, including the scripting, voice-over narration, and editing, was all done at Okemo Valley TV. Natasha (and formerly, her sister Aiyana, a 2017 Black River graduate), has been producing documentaries for History Day with us for many years. Black River High School has a long history of participation in and success with the VT and National History Day programs. And we have a special relationship with Black River & History Day. Here's a little of our own history for you: we were originally founded in 2001 after long-time B.R. history teacher, Sue Pollender, was looking for a venue in the local community equipped to help students with the video documentary portion of History Day. She learned that Ludlow could have its own community access TV station, and voila! Every year since, we have worked with Black River students on their History Day documentaries. But that's a story for another time...
For now, this about Natasha and Black River. We wish them well at this year's History Day. Congratulations is also in order to Black River history teacher Ms. Suzette Cyr for continuing on and developing such success among her students. You can read more about Black River students' History Day activities this year here. You can watch Natasha's 1st place “Frontier of Change: Nichelle Nichols’ Conflict and Compromise Regarding her Role in Star Trek" here.
On Wednesday, June 27th, we will be holding an open house & annual meeting, in celebration of our 17th year. The event will start at 6PM, with a brief awards ceremony, where we will present our annual awards to community producers, volunteers, & Okemo Valley TV members, in recognition of their work during the past year. There are 4 awards: the "Community Service" and "Outstanding Achievement" awards, as well as the "Producer of the Year" and "Youth Producer" awards. The annual meeting will immediately follow the ceremony, and will include the Board of Director election, a re-cap of our own work during the past year, and a presentation & vote on the budget for the coming year. All are invited; appetizers and refreshments will be served. Please RSVP in advance by sending us an email.
10 years ago, our old friend Pat Valente, recorded this Memorial Day reflection in our old studio. Over the years, he recorded many such videos on his long-running series "Update from Pat Valente". I thought today would be a good time to bring this particular one back. Pat was a regular fixture in that old studio. I miss having him around.
We'd like to thank the 50+ people who came out to the 7th Annual Derby Day Gala to celebrate Spring, take in the Derby, and support community TV on May 5th. Over $5000 was raised for the "Building Our Media Future" campaign, which is the 3rd and final phase of the build-out of the media production and education facility in the Ludlow Community Center complex. We moved into the space in 2013, making improvements and building out the studio ever since. We are now more than half-way to the goal, thanks to proceeds from the Gala, as well as a $25,000 "Building Communities" grant from the State of Vermont and a $5000 grant from The Cricket Foundation, received earlier this year.
In addition to those who participated in this year's Derby Gala, a special "thank you" goes to Willie Dunn's Grille. Okemo Valley Golf Club, & Okemo Mountain Resort, who hosted the event, as well as to our "Circle of Roses" sponsors: Jim Alic, The Book Nook, William Raveis Real Estate / Vermont Properties, Wine & Cheese Depot / Stemwinder, Ludlow Insurance Agency, & Side Hill Cronchers.
And thanks also to John & Ida Mae Specker, who provided the music.
The NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) holds the largest annual trade show and expo for the media & entertainment industries. It happens in Las Vegas every April. I attended this year, in part to connect with Ann Marie Cumming, who is the V.P. of Communications for NAB, and who happens to be from the area (she grew up in Bellows Falls- her mother, Jean Morrill, was on our Board of Directors for several years). I was also at the NAB Show to do some research on developing technologies and the latest equipment. There was A LOT to see and to digest. As part of my work on behalf of the Vermont Access Network, a collection of community TV stations throughout the State, I did some research on two really hot media technologies: OTT (over-the-top) and live streaming.Here's a video I made of my NAB Show experience:
Check out my blogs on each:
Oh, and not only did I get to catch up with Ann Marie at the show, but I also connected with Phil Newman (in photo below), who was there working as a freelance cameraman for Adobe! Phil grew up in Ludlow, graduated from Black River, attended Okemo Mountain School, and did some work for us, too! He was one of our first and most active volunteers, and also sat on our Board of Directors. He is now a cinematographer and camera operator based in LA.
If you're going to attend the massive spectacle that is the NAB Show, you have to focus your attention. It's best to have a clear purpose. I went to the show with a few different angles in mind. One of these was to glean what I could about "OTT" (over-the-top) and bring some (hopefully) useful information back to my colleagues in the Vermont Access Network (VAN), the collection of the 25 community access TV stations that operate in the State. And, boy, was there a lot about OTT at NAB. OTT happens to be one of the big rages in the world of media right now. In short, OTT is video service that a streaming provider sells to consumers - think Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, etc. Why might we in community TV care about OTT? .... Because, in the ever-evolving world of media, we need to hop on board, remain relevant, or else get left behind. Also, when we start talking about our funding structure and the different possible economic models that could fuel our future, we can either view them as threats...or we can start looking at them as opportunities. As an optimist, I like to think about things like this as opportunities; there is a great big (and growing) media landscape out there - and it is vital that public, independent, and community-driven media be a part of it all. We need to start integrating this technology, OTT, into our operations. Exactly how we do that is TBD, but this information can hopefully help get the conversation started. Below are some notes from a seminar I attended on "The 6 Pillars of Successful OTT" with some guys (yes, all men) who are in charge of operations at some of the major players right now.
Seminar: “The 6 Pillars of Successful OTT”
Panelists: Joseph Ambeault, SVP of Product & Tech at Discovery, Dwayne Benefield, head of PlayStation Vue at Sony, Steve Hellmuth, EVP of Media Ops. & Tech for the NBA, and Scott Levine, SVP of Product & Tech at Univision.
1. Content Strategy
- need choice & flexibility (a la carte)
- PlayStation Vue offers a la carte. Keep the consumer engaged - social media is used as a “funnel” to NBA League Pass
2. Video Delivery
- quality will drive success; retention & engagement goes up & down w/ qlty. Need to adjust to platform w/ resolutions, aspect ratios, etc.(TV vs mobile, etc.)
- Must monetize; it’s not cheap to customize content but must do it to maintain quality & retain viewers.
- Allow for downloads on mobile & computer but also need connection thru cable TV. NBA has different tiers which has proven to be successful model (can subscribe to League Pass, Team Pass, Game Pass (buy single game), Game of Week, Micro Pass (last 5 mins of game), or Audio only.
- Must be able to handle purchasing, payment methods, different currencies, etc.
- Be on all devices- esp. Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, PlayStation Vue, Smart TVs, mobile (iOS & Android), and desktop
5. Viewer Experience
- Get them to watch something within :60-:90 or you will lose them; can’t make it complicated.
- Customize the app to extent possible (and remember viewer prefs within app).
- Tailor production elements to popular platforms (NBA League Pass offers special camera angle for mobile, with enhanced graphics & stats - this works well bc. the prefs are saved and viewer can customize his/her own experience).
6. Watch Data
- Univision: “Automate insights into actions”. Ex: data show that usage inc. every month. Actions = added “What’s Next?” to end of each show. Talk to viewers frequently - connect with them , get insights, put into actions.
I also tried to learn about what services are out there that might help us all get our collective feet in the door of OTT:
OTT Services / Products
- Vimeo / Livestream. OTT is a brand new service for them, and I got the feeling it is becoming a major new focus for their business. They are now on several of the big platforms- Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, iOS, Android TV, & XBOX (no PlayStation yet). Basic service is offered at $1 / mo. per subscriber (plus 2.5% +30cent per transaction fee). Branded apps are offered starting at$500 per month (plus 2.5% +30cent per transaction fee). I think the $500 / mo. price point would rule a small station such as ours out, in terms of doing in on our own…but I am intrigued by the notion of a VAN channel / app!
- Tightrope has an OTT service through their VOD server that is in development and soon to be released, which might be an attractive option to community TV stations. They were doing a demo in a hotel suite next to the NAB Show but unfortunately I did not make it over there in time, before they folded up shop. From a personal experience, our small station uses Tightrope's server equipment, including their SX master control / playout server, a digital signage server ("Carousel"), as well as their VOD server, which integrates with our website. It took a lot of customization to get their VOD service integrated with our website how we wanted it, and it’s still not perfect, so I would be interested to see the OTT platform in person and gauge how well it might meet our station's needs.