As some of you who read this blog know, I got my start in community access television. At 19 years old, I was hired to be what they call a “staff” producer. My job was to work with volunteers who wanted to produce TV shows. These were people from all walks of life, who would come to the station once, twice, three times a week or even more, and give freely of their time to create engaging content for our little station. They would shoot, edit, direct, and write. I would help them with the finer points of putting a TV show on the air, but essentially most of the hard work was done by them. Not to say that my job wasn’t time consuming – I had, at one point, 5 weekly half hour shows to produce, and 2 bi-weekly shows. I worked, on a good week, 75-85 hours. I got paid crap. I was a kid, though, so I handled it without too much complaining – after all, it was a job in TV, and in 1990, I was ahead of most of the people I went to college with.
This post was inspired by something that happened to me on Facebook the other day. I was invited to join a group. Not just any group – a group of people from my old job at the cable access station – many of whom I really never thought I’d see, hear or speak to again. Now that I’m in the group, I couldn’t be happier about reconnecting with this part of my past.
What has dawned on me over the past few days, as I’ve viewed photos and shared memories with my old gang, is that what we were doing back in the heydays of community cable was really special. We had no budget. We made no money. But, week after week, we put out good content. Here’s the kicker. We didn’t care if one person watched our show, or if 1000 people watched our show. If someone called the viewer comment line, we were ecstatic – even if they were calling to complain that they didn’t like our show. At least they were watching. Somehow, we managed to engage people, for better or for worse.
Flash forward 18 years. Here I am, at 9:30 on a Wednesday night (coincidentally the same time and day that I used to produce my weekly local music show, “Soundtrack”), writing this blog post. I am again, producing content, hopefully good content. I am making no money at it. I don’t care if 1 person reads this or if 100 people read it. I am ecstatic if someone leaves a comment, even if it’s to complain that they don’t like what I’m saying. At least someone’s reading it. And, somehow, I’m managing to engage people, for better or for worse.
I think I just figured out why I love social media so much.