“There’s gold in them hills!” was the cry back in ’49 as people came from all over the world and the towns of Nevada City and Grass Valley were born. Fast forward to 2012 and there is still “Gold in them Hills,” only now the gold is the people who live here.
We are a spirited bunch. The kind that takes risk. The kind that overcomes the elements and obstacles that life can throw at us. We take care of our own and our sense of community goes back generations. Such was the spirit of the group who pioneered local television in Nevada County.
FCAT (Foothills Community Access Television) was organic in nature and primitive in design. With a $5,000 annual budget and minimal equipment it was an all volunteer organization. Everyone shared in the work of creating those early shows. All on their own, these pioneers were learning how to make TV. It was an eclectic band of producers, and the fun of doing something never before attempted drove the organization with a vision of what TV could or should be for the community. Artists are passionate and the decision making process was not always pretty but the goal was clear, keep the station on the air at all costs and create the best television possible.
There were many firsts in that small front office studio at the St. Joseph’s Cultural Center. That humble facade is hallowed ground where we broadcast our first newscast and our first live election coverage. Where NU football fans saw their first broadcast and where the first live call-in talk shows were made by local producers who covered a myriad of community events.
In 2004, FCAT morphed in to NCTV (Nevada County Television) and Lew Sitzer became its first executive director. Lew’s vision of community resulted in many innovations including the Day of Giving Telethons, which raised over $200,000 in five years for local nonprofits.
New facilities were constructed and the late Bill Carlquist was our first real chief engineer. The veteran Grass Valley Group engineer built the station and the new studio with the love of Geppetto making Pinocchio. (On a personal note it was an honor for me to dismantle it for our move).
Later, a second channel was added to carry the increasing amount of government programs from the cities of Grass Valley and Nevada City along with supervisors meetings. NCTV then went online and began streaming both channels to the world and created an on demand system so viewers can watch past programs. The Nevada City Classic won by Lance Armstrong was the only live, worldwide broadcast of that race and pegged the meter on Internet viewing for NCTV.
Today a new era begins as the station moves from the dilapidated armory building to a modern space inside the Grass Valley Complex in the Nevada City Tech Center. A new master control center has been built and upgraded, providing on-air programming on both channels 24/7/365.
In nearly 20 years NCTV/FCAT has broadcast over 200,000 hours of local television chronicling the history of our community and the people who live here.
Today at 1 p.m. NCTV will make television history again with our live broadcast of the “Power Up” NCTV Telethon. Our location is the downtown Grass Valley City Hall parking lot. Our goal? To raise $10,000 to build a new TV studio inside our new location — a new home for the people to come and continue to tell the story of Nevada County.
Tune in to the “Power Up” NCTV Telethon on Comcast, Channel 11, and Suddenlink, Channel 16, from 1-5 p.m. to see special guest host Barry Friedman with the Jamal Walker Band and Ivan Najera. You can call 470-0867 to pledge on the phone (and kick it old school) or pledge online for you youngsters at www.nevadacountytv.org.
Better yet, come to downtown next to City Hall and be part of the live telecast. NCTV is everyone’s station. It’s a right given to us by Congress and there many towns that wish they had a local station like ours. But, really, the station is our people — the people of our community who continue the tradition of local television for all of us to enjoy. Join us today to celebrate that tradition.
Gil Dominguez is an NCTV producer and owner of TouchDown Productions.
Our goal? To raise $10,000 to build a new TV studio inside our new location — a new home for the people to come and continue to tell the story of Nevada County.