Yesterday, as I was the only one in my doctor’s waiting room, I did what I often do in a public place when I get a chance - I turned the TV over to Fayetteville’s Community Access Television, and settled back on the couch, half-watching, and half-reading.
A few minutes later an older woman came into the office, and began to stare at the TV. “Can you turn that up a little louder,” she asked.
Playing at the time was C.A.T.’s famous Short Take program, in which anyone can come down and speak their mind for a few minutes on any topic they wish. It could be politics, religion, or the state of wool in the universe.
You could even come down and perform that song or poem that have written. It’s all good. Several times a week, the program is aired. A long-standing tradition of public access in Fayetteville, it has attracted probably thousands of our fellow citizens over the past 29 years.
I’ve even used Short Takes to practice some my comedy routines. That I’m writing this blog this morning, and not on stage somewhere, may tell you something of the quality of my attempts.
As with many of those who have worked with Fayetteville’s public access station over the years, I have often promoted the station to others. I have written about the station in newspaper articles, on my blog, and been interviewed on radio. Now that I have discovered Facebook, I promote the station there, as well.
Just ask the poor Tea baggers; I am after them relentlessly to use the station. I’m still not sure where their reluctance to use C.A.T. comes from.
The morning after Fayetteville Open Channel lost the contract to Access 4 Fayetteville in a bitter dispute in 1992, I was up early the next morning, speaking to the Lion’s Club about the value of public access.
It’s what most of us who are involved with access do. We show up.
But to get back to the my doctor’s waiting room, and the elderly woman who was suddenly entranced by the Short Takes: she turned to me and said, “I’ve heard a lot about C.A.T. over the years, but never thought to turn it on.”
“Well,” I said,” I hope you enjoy it.”
We reach out to individuals and groups on a weekly, even daily basis. The truth is, that most Have heard of C.A.T. Polls undertaken by the station over the years show that folks turn oit n at least a few times a week.
What is difficult, I think, is getting groups and organizations to naturally consider C.A.T. when they promote themselves and their events.
While true that folks can use Short Takes to promote their events, many still don’t realize that the event or program they enjoy may be enjoyed by an even larger audience, if only someone had thought to set up a video camera.
A case in point: The long-running Women’s Festival and Conference, so popular with many before the UA killed its funding, still lives on today. Since many of its programs - speakers, musicians, etc. - were preserved on video. Today, the Women’s Festival lives on, reaching an entirely new audience.
For all too many, it is as though a light-bulb has gone off over their heads when I ask them if the event was taped so that a wider audience might hear the message. After they investigate C.A.T. and all it has to offer, they never make that mistake again.
They and the viewing audience are the richer for it. Why not check out their website at http://www.catfayetteville.org/
C.A.T. and the Community Quilt
A few years ago I was in the Northwest Arkansas Mall, looking at a display of quilts, when my eye fell on a patch on one quilt depicting Community Access Television. I asked the folks at the station about it, but no one knew anything about it.
Obviously, it was made by someone who felt deeply about the station, and wanted to share that feeling with others.
I began to use that quilt whenever I spoke about C.A.T., especially in terms of the diversity in our community, and how that diversity is shown, every time someone turns on public access in Fayetteville.
We reveal ourselves to each other. Our passions, our eloquence, our music, our poetry, our faith. We share them with one another. C.A.T. accepts everyone who comes in the doors who has a story to tell, and wants help to tell that story.
Of all the programs the city of Fayetteville funds, this is truly diversity in action.
Quote of the Day
In some ways. bloggings’s gifts to our discourse make the skills of a good traditional writer much more valuable, not less. The torrent of blogospheric insights, ideas, and arguments places a greater premium on the person who can fully make sense of it all. - Andrew Sullivan - “Why I Blog”, The Atlantic, November, 2008
The Dumbing Down of CNN - Chapter 976
I was watching CNN this weekend, and I actually heard one of their Junior Varsity weekend anchors use the words “America’s Frenemies.”
Can’t add much to that.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Most repulsive letter of the week and it’s only Wednesday . . .
Glen Couture of Eureka Springs had a letter in today’s edition in which he suggested that our national symbol be changed from Uncle Sam to Uncle Remus.
It has long been my belief that there are certain editors at the ADG (Paul Greenberg, Mike Masterson?) who drive through the country-side, tossing out boxes out boxes of crayons, crying out, “You, too, can be a writer!”
But this goes too far, even for the ADG. Too far, and way, way too low.