Popular local TV station evolves with the times

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A Canton High School sports match, the selectmen’s meetings, and the Canton library author series are just a few of the community events that residents can enjoy through Canton Community Television (CCTV). It used to be that if residents wanted to watch local programming, their options were fairly limited to what was being shown at a certain time of day. However, viewing options have grown over the decades as technology has moved forward.

CCTV President Joe Donnelly (left), also the famous voice of Bulldogs hockey, with CCTV crewmembers Andrea Galvin and Tim O’Connor

CCTV President Joe Donnelly (left), also the famous voice of Bulldogs hockey, with CCTV crewmembers Andrea Galvin and Tim O’Connor

The Canton Cable Access Corporation launched Canton Community Television in 1983. A year later, Tanya Willow started as a volunteer at the station, which is located in the basement of Massasoit Community College on Randolph Street. Her job was to help produce programs.

“It was very young,” she said of the channel commonly and affectionately called Cable 8. “It was much more like a club.”

Willow, who now serves as the station’s full-time general manager, said that the present-day staff runs the station in much the same way that it was run in its early days. The programming is focused on community events that fall into three main categories: public or community television, education, and government. Community programs are shown on Comcast 8 and Verizon 43, educational programs on Comcast 12 and Verizon 41, and government programs on Comcast 22 and Verizon 42.

In the early years, the staff filmed and produced programs, but had to hire someone to go into the station and press the play button so that the shows could be seen from 6 to 10 p.m. on weekdays and on Sunday mornings. Eventually a machine took over that job. CCTV moved forward in other ways as well.

“In the 1990s, we were one of the first to use the [World Wide] Web,” Willow said.

These days the staff is able to cover more meetings and community events with better equipment. They have moved from analog editing to digital editing.

“Everything we do can be digitized,” Willow said. “We’re only limited by our imagination and not our technology.”

Willow added that programming can now be seen at a viewer’s convenience. “Not only can people see it on TV, they can watch it on their computer or phone,” she said. “It’s more conducive to people’s time.”

Besides television, CCTV makes use of Twitter, Facebook, and a webpage at cantoncommunitytv.org. If the town of Canton tapes an announcement about road conditions, it is sent to Willow, who tweets it out to the station’s followers.

In addition to Willow, CCTV has two other full-time employees. Andrea Galvin is the video production manager and Tim O’Connor is the head of videography. There are also a number of freelancers who work for the station, including Canton native Bill Titus, who operates the third base camera for the Boston Red Sox. The station’s webpage features photos, videos, staff blogs and the local TV schedule for the week.

Another source of freelancers for the station comes through Ed McDonough, who teaches video production at Canton High School. His students film a variety of school activities, including athletic events.

“He’s really key to what we do,” Willow said of McDonough. “The students are great. It’s a volunteer pool. As part of the course, they film external events.”

Willow said that CCTV films speakers from various community events, including the Orchard Cove Invites series and the Open Book Coffeehouse performances at the library. They are also planning to cover debates from the upcoming town elections.

“It’s a way for us to be able to make these things available,” she said. “More people can enjoy them.”

Willow sees the role of CCTV as one of providing information about what is happening in Canton. “You can get as much or as little as you want,” she said. “It’s what’s happening and what it implies in their lives.”

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