Community offerings: Nevada County Media offers services, tools, venue to create digital media for community
Special to Prospector
Nevada County Media, the current iteration of the county’s public access television facility, continues to expand services and distribution channels under the leadership of Executive Director Ramona Howard, and is now reaching out to the community to submit programming for broadcast.
The 501c3 was first formed in the mid 1990s by a few community members with the support of the City of Grass Valley, as Foothill Community Access Television (FCAT) located in the basement of Saint Joseph’s Cultural Center in Grass Valley. Under the guidance of the Federal Communication Commission, public access television ensures a voice for communities, independent from corporate and network influence.
Over the past 25 years, both the location of operations and the menu of services has changed to better suit the needs of the community and to reflect the development of broadcast media. While the founders of FCAT could not have foreseen the advancement of cable television to the multi platforms available today, Nevada County Media continues to not only survive but expand.
In addition to offering free programming on three public access cable channels and streaming government meetings, Nevada County Media now hosts a number of YouTube channels, boasts a 7,500 square foot state of the art production facility for public use, provides a learning academy, and has begun producing its own programming as well.
Funding comes through a tax to cable subscribers, fees for production, underwriting for projects, occasional grants, donations and memberships.
Howard came to Nevada County from the Bay Area to be closer to family. She initially responded to an inquiry for a station manager but has led the charge to help breathe new life into the organization. Howard said, “It was about coming in and completely revamping the organization and what we do. The biggest thing was offering something to our community that they would want to be a member.”
New building, new offerings
The latest move of the organization to a building on Crown Point Circle in Grass Valley offers many opportunities for the community to create programming and for Nevada County Media to do the same. Howard said, “We have a 2,000 square foot large studio, then we have about a 900 square foot small studio. We have four private editing bays, a huge lounge. It’s a really nice facility. Members can come in and utilize everything we have here for free as long as they give us content for distribution.”
People can create programming for their own private use for a small fee. An online educational component is also offered at no cost. Membership fees are as low as $30 per year for students, $100 a year for individuals, and there are other reasonable rates for nonprofits, small business and gold member businesses.
Nevada County Media also offers an intern program. Howard said, “We have a lot of young people involved now. Last year we had 21 interns. It was insane! But we have a policy to hire from our internship and hire the best person we can out of it.”
Howard said they offer a paid professional team for hire at a very reasonable rate but are focusing on the teaching aspect of production, “The one thing we have really been focusing on is the teaching aspect. We provide you a studio. We provide you a good amount of equipment, give you some basic knowledge on it, but then we also have an academy.” Those interested in learning more can take any number of classes – on podcasting, TV production, editing, etc. The prerecorded classes are a mixture of lecture theory and hands on learning.
Safety measures and current content
This year, Nevada County Media has had to alter production and programming goals to follow COVID-19 safety measures. Use of the facility is by appointment and the number of visitors is limited each day.
Nevada County Media has also expanded from strictly broadcasting community provided content to creating their own. They are currently working on a virtual Fourth of July event. Howard said, “We are going to push out a virtual parade in the morning and then in the evening we will push out a music and light show. So, we have a variety of music from locals combined with various light performances including last year’s fireworks display.” The shows will be available on cable, YouTube and Facebook.
The media group had started a music show, a kid’s show and a cooking show all before the virus hit, and now Howard said they are always looking for people to come in and participate. “Whether they are a chef or a kid that wants to come on and teach us something, or a musician that wants to be on our music show or whatever, and we do have new shows coming out.”
With a 125-seat studio capacity, the broadcasting group also wants to provide a place for musicians to come in and (once it is safe to do so) create concerts. The big call out right now is for musicians, Howard said, “One reason is to be able to utilize the facility but the other is that every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. we push out 30 minutes of new music content. That can be videos musicians send us or videos they produce here in the studio. We have been doing that for two years!”
Anyone can create and provide programming, and members who want to create a series will be given a regular time slot.
One of the biggest changes over the decades is the ease of creating quality products. Howard said. “We can easily meet feature film quality today because of the quality of the equipment. So we focus on helping people get the most they can out of that product … making sure that it sounds good and that it is lit well, that they are thinking about set design, whatever it might be. It’s a challenge when you don’t have a ton of money, but it has been a lot of fun. It’s fun letting them learn and helping them make something out of it.”
More information and links to many of the shows can be found at nevadacountymedia.org.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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