WINDER - Anyone who saw Aunt Jean or little Billy's appearance on TV at the Chautauqua Festival must have been watching WCTV-12, Barrow County's local station.
After only five months, Winder Community Television offers viewers five original programs as well as local sports, church services and the "Barrow Billboard." Executive Director Michael Jones, who formerly worked at G-NET TV and WXIA, wants to grow the station into an informative and educational local channel modeled after PBS.
WCTV-12 was known as WBTV prior to June, when the city of Winder acquired the station. The 24-hour, seven-days-per-week WCTV-12 was reborn as a government access station. As a non-commercial station, WCTV-12's staff of two doesn't have to worry about selling airtime to stay afloat.
The station is funded through cable franchise fees, corporate sponsorships and proceeds budgeted in Winder's general expense fund.
That freedom has allowed Jones to search for creative talent and bring innovative programing to Barrow
and parts of Banks, Clarke, Gwinnett, Hall, Jackson, Oconee and Walton counties. Jones and assistant Marty Spears do all the filming, producing, editing, Web site maintenance, graphics and
office work needed to keep the station running.
"We can be more relaxed and creative because we don't have to worry about ratings," Jones said. "I enjoy the creative challenge - building a show from nothing. The stress comes from watching the clock and trying to get everything done."
WCTV-12 continues to air high school football, one of the most costly segments to produce, and church services all day on Sundays, but has done away with WBTV's real estate ads.
"Everything we broadcast has a community tie," Jones said. "We did some promos with local folks at the Chautauqua Festival. People like to see their friends and family on TV."
"Huddle Up" is an original program inspired by the popularity of high school sports. Viewers can watch highlights, interviews with coaches and game analyses of Apalacahee and Winder-Barrow high school football games.
Community Focus features interviews with local officials and business leaders.
"Living Life With Style," hosted by BB Webb, owner of the Carl House, spotlights cooking, entertainment, style, fashion and wellness.
Master gardener and columnist Dora Fleming hosts "I Garden."
"Meet Barrow Business" focuses on local businesses and how they operate, what they produce, their history and why they are doing business in Barrow County.
"Barrow Billboard" broadcasts news of community events, city information, weather, burn bans and employment listings.
WCTV-12 broadcasts from a century-old house on Broad Street that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The station will move into larger facilities in the old Duckhead factory on East Athens Street in 2007. Meanwhile, Jones is reaching further into the community. WCTV-12 offers free two-hour workshops in videography, lighting and editing on the second Tuesday of each month.
"It's also a way to search for local talent," Jones said.
WCTV-12 recently aired an original documentary in which they brought together a group of local teenagers to discuss issues that included drugs, peer pressure, college and racism. Jones expects it to be the first of many such documentaries.
When asked about plans in the works, the soft-spoken Minnesota native quickly ticks off program ideas such as movie reviews, GED preparation programming, extended coverage of arts and entertainment venues from the Arena at Gwinnett Center to the University of Georgia, coverage to include the Hispanic market and a short film showcase featuring locally-produced original films.
To find schedules, streaming video, show and workshop descriptions and more information, go to www.wctv 12.com.