It was two hours before we were to go live on election night.
The polls were still open and numbers weren’t in yet. A small army from the Community Media Access Collaborative Fresno/Clovis (CMAC), a public-access TV station, was working on pre-production tasks. A few crew members were in the production room making sure the graphics and audio were good. A couple others were in the studio making sure the cameras and lights were operational and set up correctly. The evening’s technical director was going over the amended run of show. That night we were going live from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The goal was to focus on local races and be the “go-to” in between newscasts, like we had done during the previous election cycle.
CMAC’s motto is “empowering voices of our community.” It’s the place people go to learn and create video production that airs on Comcast and AT&T channels, as well as online. I learned about CMAC in 2012, and the local access channel has been a part of life since. On April 12, 2012, the Fresno Bee ran an article that educated the public about CMAC. Many like me saw the article and attended the orientation mentioned within it.
The concept is simple: programming created by members of the community to air on television. After taking several classes, I was allowed to create my own content. With a wonderful group of volunteers, we began broadcasting the Central Valley Ledger on television, which was already airing on KFSR 90.7 FM. During set-up or filming, when we have questions or run into technical issues, CMAC staff is always there and a huge help.
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Each year it seems like volunteers and I are taking projects to the next level. As a part of the CMAC, I have been a part of the following:
▪ Elected office candidate debates
▪ Broadcast the Anime Festival – which is festival featuring a style of hand drawn and computer animation figures
▪ Broadcast Scaranormal, a festival of actors and writers of some of Hollywood’s scariest movies
▪ Broadcast from live Christmas parades
▪ Recorded a magician show
▪ Partnered with Fresno State’s Armenian Studies Program to broadcast lectures, and
▪ Recorded backyard music shows
Recordings and broadcasts are made by using high quality equipment. For instance, CMAC has a mobile production vehicle. The vehicle comes equipped with four cameras, instant replay capabilities, a high tech tricaster, an audio mixer and much more. The van is especially valuable when broadcasting live. During the Christmas parades, the team used the van and it did not disappoint.
Although the on-camera experience is always fun, perhaps my favorite aspect of CMAC is what it truly offers the community. Everyone in Fresno/Clovis (because of funding rules and law) can become a member for a nominal annual fee and get trained on use of the equipment.
CMAC holds regular training workshops and sessions featuring experts from the field. For the past couple of years, they have even hosted a “Youth Filmmaking Camp,” where staff guide children through a fun and exciting four-day filmmaking camp. Youth ages 8-13 produce, direct and act in a short film developed from an original script.
It is no secret that the Valley and our nation is a diverse place. We all have unique stories to tell. Local access channels allow residents to share their experiences and tell their stories. You’ll find sports, local municipality meetings, food, travel, cartoons, music shows at local venues, high school productions, law school forums, college newscasts and much more on the CMAC channels, all produced by local residents. Most of the content on CMAC is stuff you won’t find on mainstream media channels.
CMAC has empowered voices in our community for over six years. The studio is located in the old Fresno Bee building, which once housed the Met Museum. Stop by the studio for a tour; you never know when you will want to create your own production to share your story.
Sevag Tateosian is host and producer of the Central Valley Ledger on 90.7 FM KFSR and CMAC Comcast 93 and Att 99. Connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org