Volunteers staff the control room of KLTV’s Studio A.Longview, Wash., a city of 40,000, is located in Cowlitz County, about an hour’s drive north from Portland, Ore., and a 90-minute drive south from Seattle. It is described as a place where it is difficult not to run into family and friends, but also a place where it is difficult to run into local, commercial television. The community does not have any local, commercial broadcasters.
What Longview does have is a public, education and government (PEG) channel. Kelso Longview Television (KLTV) has assumed the responsibility of keeping the community informed.
“We are Longview Kelso’s television station simply because we don’t have a broadcaster that services us,” said Barry Verrill, KLTV’s executive director. “It is a responsibility we take very seriously.”
As a PEG channel, KLTV provides channels for public programming, government programming and educational programming. “It’s like having children. They are very different children, but they are all equally loved,” Verrill said.
The public channel does more teaching, and KLTV’s producers, volunteers and members shoot their own programming for that channel, while the government channel takes more staff involvement because it features public meetings that are recorded for all of the municipalities in its broadcast area. The education channel has the involvement of the high schools and middle schools. Anything that happens at the schools, KLTV is expected to “shoot it,” he said.
KLTV’s public channel has a variety of programming shot and produced by the channel’s members. There are healthy cooking shows, a couple of youth shows that are focused on news, to hobbies and several local churches’ Sunday morning service, all shot by volunteers, he said. “We are a wide range of programming, everything from sports to religion to hobbies.”
A popular program called “My Town” features various events that happen in Kelso County, with the host generally at the location conducting interviews. “It is a well-liked program because if you want to know what is going on in our county, it is a good place to find out,” he said.
Programs on the government channel include council meetings, court meetings, public utility commissions and school board meetings. “If it is a public meeting in our county, we are pretty much there,” Verrill said. However, there is a live call-in show broadcast every Wednesday during the fall and winter called “Local Matters,” named based on KLTV’s philosophy that what happens locally really does matter, he said. Guests include mayors, senators and police chiefs who take phone calls from the public.
The education channel features the many schools in the area. The media class of Kelso High School produces the popular program “KHS News,” all about what is happening at the school that week. In addition, there are a fair number of sports on the education channel. “We are a pretty big football and baseball area,” Verrill said. In the fall, KLTV televises the high school football games, broadcasting at a different school each of the 10 weeks in the season.
TWO GOOD CATCHES
It was at a sporting event that KLTV’s remote broadcast hit a home run, according to Verrill. The Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NAACC) holds its yearly baseball tournament of 15 games over five days in Cowlitz County. During the 2012 tournament a player from a local team made a catch by jumping over the left-field fence for the final out of a game, the crowd and team went wild, and KLTV was there to catch it all on film, he said.
KLTV members work on projects at the channel’s Final Cut Pro edit stations.KLTV sent the video to ESPN, and it became the network’s sports Play of the Day; then it became the Play of the Week. The player was sent to the ESPN Espy Awards in Los Angeles, Verrill said. The catch video “was a top four finalist for the Play of the Year. That was our footage,” he said.
In addition, a local newspaper took the video clip of the winning catch and put it up on YouTube, where it received 2 million hits. “There were about 450 fans at the baseball tournament that night. That wonderful baseball catch would have been a faint memory for 450 fans instead of accessible to 2 million people if it wasn’t for us,” he said.
The NWAACC baseball tournament is just one of the many ways KLTV is serving its community by providing coverage of local events.
Conducting location productions has become easier for KLTV in the last two years after building the KLTV Mobile Production Truck, Verrill said. The station’s staff of six installed the equipment and the racks in the truck. “We really installed everything except for the generator,” he said.
The truck can operate with up to five people staffing the vehicle. There is room for someone to oversee graphics, another to oversee replays, an audio person and another staff person inside. “Just the simple size of it has made it so much easier for us.”
The mobile production truck has helped with KLTV’s training programs. Those who want to learn how to create graphics can gain experience from a truck, Verrill said. All they would do that day is graphics, he said. In addition, during the last two years, KLTV has become a member of a company that trains trainers so they are Apple Final Cut Procertified. “We offer a great deal of knowledge when it comes to Final Cut Pro editing. Our membership tells us it is the best training we give.”
Such training is one of the perks of being a KLTV member, and members can have training on a specific piece of equipment. Once members are familiar with a certain piece of equipment, they can check out the cameras for free; once they are trained in the studio, they can use one of KLTV’s two studios.
To be a member of KLTV costs $25 per year. The low cost creates an opportunity for all ages within the community to use the channel’s facilities. “We want our members to pay something because we feel that small token of value gives members a stake in it,” Verrill said.
The 125,000 residents of Cowlitz County and the surrounding area have remained interested in the membership, training and programming of KLTV, and viewership has grown slightly over recent years, according to Verill. “I am not sure if that is a product of the economy; or people can’t afford to go to the theater for entertainments so they stay home and watch TV; or if it is a product of it being in Washington state, where it rains all the time and dish and satellite is not always the best reception,” he said.
KLTV also streams 90 percent of its government channel programming online, with occasional streaming of the educational channel, particularly for events such as a baseball tournament. “A lot of the teams involved are from outside of our county” so by streaming the games “family and friends back in their home towns can watch the games,” he said.
Kelso Longview Television: