In Memoriam

educating the public on environmental issues

Pioneering Use of Public Access Television for Awareness Program

As ownership of America's mainstream media outlets consolidates into fewer corporate hands, public access TV, as a launching pad for independent media production, becomes more and more important. And as a form of expression, which is funded in most cities by a small fee charged to cable TV subscribers, whatever else you say about it, public access is one of the United States' more interesting forms of free speech.

Earth Alert sees public access as an inadequately used and under-appreciated resource toward awareness of issues and building coalitions. And as a hobby, it sure as hell beats "bored" games!

The experience of producing a public access TV show is challenging enough to absorb the minds of ADD-challenged adolescents and adults, yet forgiving enough to coax rapid immersion. Otherwise, how why would anyone consent to "learn" to operate a studio TV camera, lights and the light board, a cartridge machine, microphones and the sound board, the switching board and the character generator in six hours of hands-on training and proceed a short time later to actually put something on the air! And yet, that's what seven bold volunteers for Earth Alert's upcoming show on New Mexico's environmental issues are doing.

The enterprise of Earth Alert's crew, comprised mostly of community and environmental activists, would be impossible without the warm, enthusiastic and encouraging support of the employees of Quote, Unquote, the nonprofit corporation that runs Albuquerque's Channel 27, Margaret Difani and Pat Gallegos just keep repeating, "It's not that hard, you don't have to understand how all the equipment works, if you just remember which buttons to push. And if you have a problem, come find one of us!"

With this reassuring approach, Channel 27 has been filling its cablecast schedule from 6 a.m. to 12 midnight every day with noncommercial programming produced by umpteen producers and their crews. Channel 27 offers any Albuquerque resident who attends an orientation and pays a small fee for training the opportunity to learn to produce a TV show, whether in the large three-camera Studio A. And for those who'd rather forego the effort to organize the five- to eight-person crew required to smoothly produce in studio A, there's Studio B, which can be operated by one person, who points one camera at him- (or her-) self, while sitting behind a console pushing buttons, and talking, dancing or playing music. In addition to studio productions, there's the opportunity to learn field production-taking a camera off-site and returning with footage to edit into a show.

Earth Alert salutes its crew!

Kent Salazar, Robbie Coleman, Steve Schroeder, Sherry Rice, Karen Webb, Nancy Galloway, Gloria Newson.

Thank you all for your interest and commitment. Otherwise, we'd be in Studio B with Janet trying to operate all those machines while talking to the camera!

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by Janet Bridgers
Earth Alert