Home Television Staying tuned for 19 years: Verona Hometown Access Television director Andy Scott shares time in role | Community

Staying tuned for 19 years: Verona Hometown Access Television director Andy Scott shares time in role | Community

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For the past 19 years, Verona Hometown Access Television – or VHAT for short – has been kept on the air thanks to the work of Andy Scott.

Scott said he was “lucky” to lock himself into work, after earning his degrees in theater arts and motion picture directing in the 1980s – the kind of degrees he said that a person must be lucky to be able to use.

He bounced around a bit, first a few years on Madison’s public-access channel, then helped Mount Horeb start one, before coming to work for the Verona station.

He wasn’t supposed to have worked solo from the control room for almost two decades. In fact, a co-worker was hired the same week as him, but she quickly moved to Sun Prairie and became a “move and shaker” for community access television there, he said. declared.

And at 63, Scott said he won’t be leading VHAT himself any longer.

Despite the pandemic, he said his role hasn’t changed too much in the past two years.

“VHAT was doing things online before COVID-19,” he said.

The YouTube channel VeronaWIMeetings was launched in April 2013 and has since provided recordings of Common Council and Planning Commission meetings. The biggest change was when meetings went from meeting in person at town hall to virtually on Zoom during part of the pandemic.

It took a bit of work — and upgrading to new equipment — to figure out how to stream Zoom meetings live on YouTube and record at the same time, Scott said.

“I was impressed that the members of the Planning Commission and the Common Council are learning new technologies and are active in the system,” he said. “They’ve all been great – all those changes, they’ve really rolled with it.”

Besides these two government meetings, Scott also records all meetings of the Verona Area Historical Society, as well as various programs at the Verona Senior Center.

But it’s been at least a year since he’s worked a 60-hour workweek because things have slowed since the pandemic, Scott said, as historical society meetings go from month to month at all. both months.

But there’s still enough work to keep him busy, and at times he can always feel like there’s too much for one person to cover in a week.

In some ways, he was able to do it all on his own because Verona only has one cable channel compared to other communities in the area like Oregon, which has two, or Sun Prairie , who has four, he said.

These communities offer more school and sports coverage than VHAT, Scott said.

There are three types of local access channels, known as PEGs, he said – public, educational and government.

VHAT primarily focuses on government. Scott does not oversee education access programs such as school board meetings — which are run by the school itself.

“When you have more than one channel, you can offer one to do one thing and the other to do the other,” he said.

And there isn’t really any “public access” programming either, he said, but there are church services on Sunday mornings, an Oregon resident who submits his recordings of the band Capital City of Madison and a local man who submits DVDs of sporting events he filmed. back in the 1990s.

For his part, Scott said he views his role as a journalist — he doesn’t like to put himself in the equation. He covers all the meetings requested by the city, and then it’s up to him to fill the calendar with the senior center and historical society programs and submitted content.

Scott said he had “much grander ideas” for the kinds of content to produce when he was taking film lessons, but he just doesn’t have “young man aspirations” anymore.

Although over the years he has made original programs here and there, helping to create a short video advertising the senior center and also creating a time lapse of the center building when a new hearing aid audio system T-coil has been installed for more than half a century. the week.

Some of the churches providing recordings of their services started doing so because Scott’s predecessor provided them with old, outdated cameras that are no longer used by VHAT. But by the time Scott stepped into the role, he had no more abandoned equipment to give away or money to buy new ones to offer, which is why some churches don’t appear on VHAT.

“I’ve offered all the churches in town airtime if they want to do it,” Scott said. “Therein lies the public end of this access – yours to set it up, yours to spread it.”

Funding and future

The channels are not funded by taxpayers’ money, Scott said. Currently, all the money for these types of local access channels comes from the cable companies through a PEG access fee that the companies charge cable subscribers.

Wisconsin law requires cable companies to provide local access channels.

But cable companies aren’t paying anything out of pocket, Scott said. The money they provide to local broadcasters is just a transfer from their customers – which puts the channels at risk, Scott said.

“Eventually it will go away because everyone will be broadcasting,” he said. “But I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Verona is growing, so more cable is coming. This city has grown so rapidly over the past 20 years, but it’s really up to cities to decide how much to spend on local access.

He doesn’t believe the city would consider putting taxpayers’ money behind the channel if the cable companies’ money started to dry up.

“These don’t have to exist,” he said. “It will eventually go away once people stop getting cable TV. Cities are reluctant to pay them. No law says they have to have these channels.

But if the chains are taken down, people are likely to get angry and say the city government is hiding something, Scott said.

However, when he started putting meetings on YouTube, despite an initial increase in the number of people watching, it dropped “once people saw how boring meetings were”, he said. declared.

“It’s rarely exciting, nothing really happens,” he said.

Despite this, he is proud to have nine years of meetings archived online, as anyone interested can look back at how past Common Council and Planning Commission decisions have led to the present.