Hudson Community TV

“Whenever people come to me asking questions, I always recommend the UltraNEXUS-HD … they’re bulletproof.”

— Dan Gerbracht
(Operations Manager, HCTV)

Hudson, OH — The residents of Hudson love their community. Like many towns tucked away in the pockets of modern America, Hudson positions itself as a stronghold of neighbors. Banding together across social media and a mutual love of the media generated in their town, these are the kinds of people that stay neighbors, even after relocating outside of Hudson city limits. Standing as a pillar of this notion, Hudson Community Television gives a voice to those community neighbors and provides a window into their lives.

CGOV LogoLike many customers in the PEG access world, HCTV is still operating on SD channels provided by their cable provider. As long-time LEIGHTRONIX customers, this sufficed for years on their legacy SD LEIGHTRONIX products. As time moved forward, however, the station began updating their video workflow, incorporating more and more high-definition equipment to stay relevant with an ever-evolving audience. This lead to an upgrade from legacy SD streaming services, PEG Central® and PEG Stream™, to the new VieBit® service that offers both live and video-on-demand streaming in HD and SD.

Coupled with their subscription to VieBit are several IncodeX Stream™ live-streaming encoders, allowing for HD/SD live streaming. After years of using LEIGHTRONIX equipment, Dan Gerbracht, the operations manager at HCTV, knew that no other options even came close. With a free five year warranty and free tech support for the life of the product, along with some of the most reliable products on the market, LEIGHTRONIX products and services are the best choice for any station — especially those broadcasting 24/7.

Dan Gerbracht

“One of the reasons we were attracted to LEIGHTRONIX was the reliability of it … there is no annual maintenance or anything like that and the warranty is one of the best I’ve ever seen.” — Dan Gerbracht

With all of their streaming upgrades, HCTV’s audience has a place to view the station’s high-definition content online, but their broadcast channels are still in SD. Luckily, the UltraNEXUS-HD™ automatically downscales HD to SD for this exact reason. Recognizing that many broadcasters in the PEG access realm are in the same kinds of predicaments as HCTV, LEIGHTRONIX made sure to create a video server that easily fits into transitional workflows. Features like automatic upscaling and downscaling, and simultaneous SD and HD outputs were incorporated to help broadcasters successfully grow and evolve.

That product works perfectly with HCTV’s current video capabilities, but with two external channels and an internal one, they needed something that could go a little further. Enter the UltraNEXUS-HD Blade™: all of the power of the UltraNEXUS-HD with room for up to 12 channels in a space-saving 4RU chassis. Taking advantage of the UltraNEXUS-HD Blade’s capabilities, HCTV operates three different blade units for SD broadcast, while streaming all of that same video content in HD for VieBit.

Switching from a legacy LEIGHTRONIX video server to the UltraNEXUS-HD Blade was a breeze. The LEIGHTRONIX scheduling software, WinLGX™, is regularly updated with new features, but the overall design of the software has remained the same — for good reason. Training new employees and volunteers on the software takes little time, especially for anyone familiar with earlier versions of the product. Dan estimates that it takes him 15 minutes or less to train someone on the basics of WinLGX and Mike Bondra, the production assistant who has spent years scheduling for HCTV, had no issue switching over to the new system: “Oh it’s great — It’s very simple to use and easy. I can’t imagine it being any easier to use.”

All of the station’s updates and innovation have really paid off. According to Dan, viewer feedback given to himself or Barb VanBlarcum, the program manager at HCTV, is overwhelmingly positive. It’s not uncommon for either of them to receive commentary from viewers right off the street regarding favorite programs or series. With an updated, full-HD streaming workflow, HCTV’s video content not only looks fantastic on VieBit, but older videos shot in HD and streamed in SD have been reuploaded in their native definition, breathing new life into some of the station’s most popular videos.

Making all of this content accessible to both the current residents of Hudson and former residents located across the country has been a significant focus of the HCTV team. Updating video workflows to HD and offering supplemental streaming services along with regularly scheduled broadcasts has kept content relevant to the changing landscape of media. As a service, community media adds a necessary tool to inform the public, but it also gives that same public a greater window into their neighbors’ lives. Making that content more accessible and of a higher quality only encourages further engagement. Barb explains that despite the hundreds of channels available, members of the community consistently tune in because HCTV has “… the people they know and the faces they recognize and the issues that relate directly to their lives …” That’s really what community media is all about: connecting with the individuals and officials that are a part of one’s life.

The Cutaway

The Cutaway

It’s easy to assume that a strong PEG access station is held up by an active community — that the station is successful because the audience is so active. In reality, the relationship between a PEG station and its community is symbiotic. When Barb helped found HCTV in the mid-nineties, one of the big reasons for its inception was to better inform community members of city government happenings and decisions. Knowledge has far-reaching effects, encouraging active participation where there otherwise may not have been. Participation then fuels knowledge and engagement of any sources close to the community, where the cycle likely starts again. Like many public access stations, HCTV is a vital part of its community. It is the catalyst of engagement. We are happy to have been an important part of HCTV’s mission and can’t wait to see where things go from there.

The Problem

With a full HD video setup and SD broadcast channels, HCTV needed a way to simplify an HD streaming workflow while still broadcasting in SD. Thankfully, LEIGHTRONIX products are built with customers in mind, providing solutions for the transitional broadcast environment.

The Solution

How It Works

Video content is shot in HD and either saved as a video-on-demand file or live streamed to the VieBit live and VOD streaming service with a pair of IncodeX Stream encoders. Content is scheduled and automatically downscaled for broadcast from the UltraNEXUS-HD Blade across three channels.

In Their Words

“One of the biggest reasons we stayed with [LEIGHTRONIX] is because that’s what we’ve had and we’ve never had any issues with it.”

— Dan Gerbracht
Operations Manager, HCTV

End Result

“Oh it’s great — It’s very simple to use and easy. I can’t imagine it being any easier to use.”

— Mike Bondra
Production Assistant, HCTV

At a Glance

  • Name: HCTV
  • Location: Hudson, OH
  • Products Owned: UltraNEXUS-HD Blade, IncodeX Stream, and VieBit
  • Programming: HCTV handles all of the regular government programming for the city, as well as separate channels for community programming and general information.
  • Rich History: A lot of HCTV programming has an emphasis on history. The Hudson Historical Society often uses the embed codes from HCTV’s VieBit site to feature video content on their site.
  • Hudson Clock Tower: The iconic clock tower has been a staple of Hudson imagery since it was built in 1912. The logos for both the city and HCTV feature the clock tower.
  • A City Rebuilt: Following a series of unfortunate events, Hudson laid in near ruin by 1907. James Ellsworth, a wealthy businessman originally from Hudson, revitalized the town with a number of amenities and services (including the clock tower).

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