Wrentham Cable Access has called WDC home and currently, the station is in the midst of a major renovation of its space. Once completed, Wrentham Cable Access will have a new and larger soundproof studio complete with a green screen, a new control room, improvements to its smaller studio, and upgrades to equipment. “The renovation is quite extensive,” says Frank Whitehead, Wrentham Cable Access, Station Manager. “It will totally change the look and feel of the station.”
Even under construction, Wrentham Cable Access has the appearance of a major television station. The main studio, which will become the smaller studio once the renovation is completed, is filled with high end HD television cameras and lighting fixtures. New walls are being built around the space to reduce external sounds and a new control room is being installed that will work with both studios. The new main studio will be larger and soundproof.
Wrentham Cable Access is a non-profit corporation and doesn't receive any funding from the town. Its operation and any improvements are funded by money it receives from Verizon and Comcast to operate the Public, Educational and Government access channels. The station broadcasts town meetings, educational programs, local sports, community events, and posts community announcements.
The station is also used by residents to create original content. Candidates running for town positions record messages about themselves, and others use the studios to produce original shows, such as The Grapevine, the long running program which covers local politics.
Recently, the station played a major role in the success of Wrentham Community Events’ Dancing with the Wrentham Stars. The fundraising event relied heavily on video and Wrentham Cable Access was involved in recording and editing most of it. The station also took on the challenge of doing a live broadcast of the show from Lake Pearl Luciano's. “Frank and his team were absolutely critical in executing our vision for this event,” says Cal Harkins, Wrentham Community Events, President. “They worked incredibly hard for three solid months doing interviews, editing tape, adding graphics, adjusting sound and background, etc. There were a total of 18 videos involved and Frank had to pull them all together into one seamless production.”
Harkins said the live broadcast was a big component to the Dancing with the Wrentham Stars program, but it almost didn't happen. She says Whitehead and his volunteers worked for months to acquire the necessary equipment to broadcast live and the night of the show there was a major blizzard making it more complicated. “Cable 8 worked extremely hard throughout the entire event,” she says. “This was a huge win for those that were unable to get tickets or folks unable to leave their homes. In particular, the residents of the Wrentham Developmental Center who, we were told, were thrilled to hear Scott Zolak [the events MC ] say hello to them on TV.”
In addition to the broadcasting functions of the studio, Wrentham Cable Access provides training on different editing software packages. Whitehead says, typically he will have 3 to 4 people come in to learn a video editing program which is offered for free to Wrentham residents. There are also five editing suites available to residents to work on videos, slide shows and to learn different programs. The editing equipment will also be upgraded with installation of large monitors. If you have a project to work on, Whitehead says, “Come on down.”
Whitehead is on hand to teach, provide guidance and share his expertise. “He helps everyone that comes in,” says Wrentham resident Bob Leclair.
Other improvements are coming. Both Comcast and Verizon are upgrading their networks and the quality of signal should improve to the homes throughout Wrentham. Currently, the signal Wrentham Cable Access sends to the two Cable providers is high quality, but when it is sent out to the homes it degrades. The installation of fiber optics will help and residents should see improvements by the end of 2013.
The future plans from Wrentham Cable Access are also ambitious. Wrentham Developmental Center has agreed to let the station build its own facility. Whitehead says that is many years away but for now their space will be new and improved. He hopes more residents stop in and take advantage of the station and he adds, his coffee is pretty good. “People stop in for my coffee all the time,” he says.