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What’s on public access?

Evanstonians are debating how much taxpayers should spend on public access television as the city wrestles with a $9.5 million budget deficit.

But what do we get for the annual investment of $348,000 in franchise fee revenue and another $90,000 in capital equipment funding?

Here’s a report from several hours spent watching public access Channel 6 this week.

Evanstonians are debating how much taxpayers should spend on public access television as the city wrestles with a $9.5 million budget deficit.

But what do we get for the annual investment of $348,000 in franchise fee revenue and another $90,000 in capital equipment funding?

Here’s a report from several hours spent watching public access Channel 6 this week.

Most hours of the public access channel day — over 60 percent of the total — are filled with a rotating series of graphics promoting the Evanston Community Media Center or a community event, with music playing in the background.

On weekdays, local video productions start airing at 4 p.m., and if you tuned in at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday you’d see "Forever Friends," described as "a teen soap opera" telling "the continuing saga of misfit children dealing with problems in a group home."

The show is produced by Tricia Edwards, the most prolific community media center producer, with five programs now running. Her shows include another children’s soap opera, reading and poetry shows for children and a show that presents tapes of Sunday morning worship services from the Faith Temple Church of God.

At least five other religious shows are running on the channel — "Faith Temple Presents," "First United Methodist Services," Living Hope of Calvary Church," "Prayer Garden" and "YHWH and Yeshua Speak."

Ethnic programming forms another major public access genre. If you’d tuned in at 6 p.m. on Monday, you would have seen "Haiti Verite," which airs in Haitian Creole. Others ethnic shows include "Video Creole," "Chicayiti TV," "ConversAsians" and "Croatian Perspective."

The studio interview show is another staple of public access. On this month’s "Good to Know" program, which aired at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, host Ilham Algayed, a pediatrician at NorthShore University Health System, interviewed dietician Danielle Geneze about health eating habits.

Roughly a dozen talks shows fill out the public access schedule. 

 

With only about 25 hours of new programming produced per month — or a little more than one day’s worth — reruns play a huge role in the public access schedule. This Wednesday’s broadcast of "Keeping the Beat" at 8 p.m. featured an interview with the author of "new" a book on African drumming. The show was recorded back in 2007. 

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