Access to information about the world has never been easier. But with the abundance of social media and worldwide news outlets, many people miss out when it comes to what's happening in their very own communities.
Community-based media is an incredible resource, and Midland Community Television (MCTV) holds opportunities for both gaining and sharing information about important things happening right here in our backyard.
Production crew inside MCTV's production trailer capturing high school football.
Founded in 1984, MCTV originated with a committee of community members coming together to determine the rules that govern a public access outlet. It’s since blossomed into a primary outlet with four separate channels.
There are two government channels: The Midland Government Channel and The Midland Public Schools channel which broadcast government meetings for the City of Midland and cover topics relevant to our school district.
There are also two community based-channels: The Community Voices Channel as a public access broadcast, and the Community Messages channel is a message board for information on upcoming events or coverage of live events like games or concerts.
Matt Richardson is the manager of MCTV.
“The beauty of community-based media is that it’s locally generated and produced. It doesn't have outside influence or interest, or corporate or monetary influence,” says Matt Richardson, manager of MCTV. “The media landscape has changed dramatically. Community media really is one of the last public free speech forums out there. Our goal at MCTV has always been to provide an avenue where people can have a real and civilized community-based discourse. Community-based media allows you to not only get information relative to your area, but the information is also coming from local sources. It helps build a greater sense of community.”
MCTV’s community-based channels provide opportunities for everyone. Content varies greatly to cover a broad range of topics. Any resident of Midland County over the age of 12 or anyone working on behalf of a nonprofit agency within Midland County can utilize this resource. Access users can purchase a membership for an annual fee of $25, which grants them full access to MCTV’s facilities while providing amazing and affordable marketing opportunities for groups and nonprofit organizations.
Being a media creator and producer
MCTV recommends that newcomers attend a workshop that covers everything you need to know to become a media creator and producer: how to create studio talk shows or podcast talk shows, how to create programming with professional cameras and equipment, and how to edit programs together. From that point forward, they are available as needed to help with every step of the process. Workshops are offered during the first week of each month and require a $20 registration fee.
Dennis Caney is one of many MCTV volunteer media creators who make up the production crew at community events.
Media creators dictate the topics covered on the community-based channels and their role is crucial to successful broadcasting. Joan Timmer, a dedicated volunteer throughout the community of Midland, started volunteering to work with MCTV in 2002 and quickly realized the importance of community-based media. Over the course of her time as a media creator with MCTV, she’s helped produce programming covering a wide range of topics impacting the community of Midland.
She started while working with a local shelter to discuss topics such as teen dating, drug abuse, domestic violence, sexual assult, and mental health.
“These topics created opportunities to bring other local organizations in for programming including the sheriff's department, the Chief of Police, and then branching off to shows on related topics and organizations in our community,” says Timmer. “I went down the list and we put together over 300 hours of TV shows for all the nonprofit agencies of Midland County. It just kept exploding more and more until I was doing five shows a month.”
Timmer realized the value of being able to spread awareness.
“There are tons of people out there that don’t know that help is available to them,” she says. “Knowing that I am reaching an audience, that I’m getting the community ‘in the know’ that some of these things exist is what’s important.”
She also can’t say enough about her positive and rewarding experience as a media creator for MCTV.
Volunteer operates a camera at a Midland Concert Band performance in the Center for the Arts.
“Anyone who has an interest should absolutely contact MCTV and sign up for the training,” says Timmer. “Anyone that has a desire to get information out to our community should truly consider doing a show. They will set you up for success and they are so great to work with. No topic is off the table. Every idea is respected. They will assist you with everything you need.”
In addition to the workshops for access users, MCTV offers youth summer camps for Midland’s up-and-coming talent. Currently, the network offers two camps for kids ages 12-17.
There’s a four-day camp teaching the basics of media creation: learning how to design, produce, and record news segments and then how to put it all together to create a final program.
MCTV holds video camps for kids, ages 12-17 in the summer.
Last summer, MCTV kicked off a new five-day camp focused on sports broadcasting: how to use equipment, conduct sports style interviews, sideline interviews, and multi camera broadcasts. The camp partnered with Dow Diamond and ESPN and campers had the opportunity to tour facilities while learning about being on-air talent and calling live games.
“The camp culminated with participants broadcasting a Friday night Great Lakes Loons game, which was an awesome experience,” says Richardson.
Kids 12 and under can still get in on the fun with group tours of the facilities and watching and participating in mock talk shows.
Where can I watch MCTV?
MCTV broadcasts can be viewed on AT&T U-Verse channel 99 and Charter Spectrum channels 188-191. It’s also available through numerous streaming outlets.
MCTV Network programming can be viewed on Spectrum, U-Verse, and several social media platforms.
“We’re available on the Cablecast app which allows you to view everything on your phone,” explains Richardson. “We also have a Roku app, an Apple TV app, and an Amazon Fire TV app. Along with streaming through our website, MCTV’s content can be viewed anytime, anywhere.”
Media creators also have the option to share audio-only versions of their broadcast.
“MCTV content has always been very podcast-like,” says Richardson. “It’s two or three people having a conversation about a topic. Since 2018, we’ve allowed people to take their recorded talk shows and convert them to a podcast.”
MCTV’s facilities suffered flood damage, but they are making improvements as they rebuild. Goals for 2022 include finishing and offering a booth dedicated only to podcasting. They currently have two podcast channels that can be found by searching MCTV Network.
MCTV is a service of the City of Midland. The station is located on the lower level of the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library. It’s primarily supported by a franchise fee paid by Spectrum to the City for the use of the public right of way. If you’re interested in getting involved, learning more, and utilizing the benefits of community based media visit www.cityofmidlandmi.gov/mctv
or call 989-837-3474.