Saugerties’ Public Access TV station, Saugerties Lighthouse TV, also known as TV 23, continues to serve as an important conduit for day-to-day information and entertainment for Town residents, even as it adapts to rapidly changing technology.
And that includes streaming and on-demand options as more and more viewers shift away from traditional and often costly cable TV packages towards streaming services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu.
Anastasia Redman, the station’s program coordinator, said right now TV 23 is working on a direct feed to YouTube. She estimates that will launch sometime this month although she couldn’t say for sure as all this work is done by a dedicated team of volunteers, many of whom have other jobs and family commitments.
The new feed will reduce the need for Redman to spend a long-time transferring content to YouTube. TV23 already posts its programs and recordings of municipal board meetings to Facebook and streaming platform Roku under its PEG TV platform.
And at times working with all these platforms presents an added layer of challenges for Redman, who only works part-time. On a recent morning, she was juggling a telephone interview with Hudson Valley One, while trying to get the channel’s stream back up after it went offline. “This has never happened before,” she said speaking of the outage.
A wide range of programming for differing interests
TV 23 features a wide range of public access programming ranging from local to national and international and educational to pure entertainment.
These include “Chief’s Desk” a quarterly show produced by Saugerties Police Department Chief Joseph Sinagra. In each episode, Sinagra shares new procedures, introduces new police officers, what they’re doing, along with the latest updates about the department’s K9 unit.
“It’s a great service,” Redman said.
She said like years past, TV 23 airs the Town Board and Planning Board meetings by linking into a recording of the Web-Ex software the Town uses to offer the meetings in a hybrid format. She said Village Board meetings are on hold temporarily, as they have been unable to find a volunteer to record the meetings. Town Board meetings are typically posted within a week after they occur.
On top of recordings of municipal meetings, TV23 also hosts special and regularly scheduled educational programming. Specials include a slide show of Jim Peppler’s photos of the iconic Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King. Jr on Monday, January 17 at 1, 5 and 7 p.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. She said it’s a slide show with a voice-over talking about what the pictures were about. “It’s moving and upsetting at the same time.”
The schedule also includes a number of programs shared from other public access channels across the U.S.
Senior-Centered looks at issues seniors face such as cholesterol and heart disease in a talk show format on Sundays at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday mornings most often feature some sort of religious programming for those who may be unable to make it out to services at area houses of worship.
Another favorite is the art show Put Some Color in Your Life where the host travels across places and visits artists’ studios.
The travel show Get Away For a Day focuses on one-day road trips within New York State.
Classic movie night is each Thursday at 7 p.m. and features a classic movie mostly from the 1940s and 1950s.
Pet lovers won’t want to miss the Destination Pet Show, which offers a number of tips as to picking and caring for pets Fridays at 1 and 7 p.m.
Each night at 9 p.m. a news program produced by Democracy Now features stories from all over the world.
On the first Saturday of each month at 2 p.m. Strata offers a portrait of humanity across the globe by covering cultural heritage topics across the world.
Kids can check out classic Saturday morning cartoons on Saturdays at 11 a.m. within a rerun that same evening at 7 p.m.
Music fans can catch a recording of past Saugerties Pro Musica concerts typically within a week of the live performance. “Richard Frisbie typically records it with a two-camera setup and sends the file to TV 23, Redman said. The performances can also be found on Saugerties Pro Musica’s YouTube page.
The latest installment of the free series, featuring concert pianist Liana Paniyeva, is scheduled for January 24 at 3 p.m. at the Saugerties Methodist Church.
For those who don’t have cable, many of TV 23’s shows can also be found on-demand on their website at http://www.saugertieslighthousetv.com/ or on its streaming platforms.
Even with a solid slate of programming each week, Redman admitted TV 23 no longer has the number of locally produced shows like it did in the past when the public access station had upwards of 50-60 volunteers, and they even offered two-day intensive classes on how to produce a show and how to use the technology like cameras and tripods along with tips for other production tasks like editing
She said today it can be tough to offer a class if fewer than five people sign up. Now if someone is interested, she recommends they arrange to come down and tour the station’s studio at Saugerties Town Hall at 4 High Street. She said that’s often proven to be a great way for someone to gauge their interest in public access TV and learn more about getting involved.
A one-stop source for community information and events
Outside the hours when shows are running, TV23’s bulletin board forms the core of the station’s programming schedule. While music plays in the background, a series of slides play highlighting community events.
Redman said the slides allow Town and Village officials and non-profits to quickly convey information in a one-stop location with residents and visitors. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s included any virus-related cancellations and modifications to procedures such as mask-wearing, vaccination and social distancing requirements for in-person attendance at the Pro-Musica concert.
Redman is also proud of a local three-day weather forecast that pops up every few slides. She said after years of it drawing forecasts from Albany or Poughkeepsie, it now draws forecast information specifically for Saugerties. “It’s actually very precise,” she noted.
The slide show is rounded out with photographs that residents shoot around town or on their travels.
“It could be the Lighthouse or Esopus Creek,” she said.
Redman said this calendar has proved to be an indispensable resource for many Town and Village residents seeking to find information quickly and in one space in a time of information overload.
“Parents say on Saturday mornings they watch TV23 to see what events are happening they can bring their children to,” she said. “They plan their weekend based on that.”
A platform for all
Just about anyone can post an event on TV23’s bulletin board or share a program as long as it’s not being shared for monetary gain. Commercials for for-profit businesses are strictly off-limits, she asserted.
These rules also apply for any programs that TV23 uses from other public access stations, she said.
While TV23 never censors content there are certain guidelines for restrictive content that limit such programs to only being aired after midnight with a requirement for a disclaimer at the beginning.
The channel also bars programming or slides promoting a particular candidate within 30 days of an election, she noted.
Instead, TV 23 airs candidate forums hosted by the League of Women voters that feature all candidates who are asked the same series of questions.
“We don’t take sides, we’re not political,” Redman said.
A labor of love
Redman said after 20 years on the job, she still loves working at TV23 which is supported by a small budget appropriated by the Town and Village.
“It’s technically oriented, but it’s also creative,” she said.
She pointed to creating the graphics for the slide show. “If someone’s doing a roast beef dinner, I’ll get an image of a dinner plate and make it look more appealing,” she said.
Redman said she first heard about the job when someone told her there was an opening. She recalled how when she first got the job, the station was very bare-bones operating out of a closet with a cable hook up.
Now it’s a three-room complex stocked with equipment donated by NBC and IBM among others.
And she invites residents to visit the TV studio.
“This is a chance for them to get excited and see what they can do,” she said.