Wakefield Community Access Television
"I think I had a three hour crash course on the program before I had my actual start day and with that three hours, and very detailed scratchy notes, I pretty much jumped in with both feet and built a schedule."
–Sarah Julien (WCAT, Program Coordinator)
Wakefield, MA—When Sarah Julien started at Wakefield Community Access Television (WCAT) just over a year ago, she had no experience with the station's existing video server solution, the UltraNEXUS™. Julien, the station's program coordinator, says her job requires her to work directly with the UltraNEXUS for most of the day, so she had to quickly become comfortable with the WinLGX™ scheduling software and WebNEXUS™ web interface.
"It's been fantastic. I had never used WebNEXUS, or even heard about LEIGHTRONIX before I started, but I was given a crash course the first week I was here, and it's so user friendly that once you do it a couple of times you just pick it up, so that was really great," Julien said. "I think I had a three hour crash course on the program before I had my actual start day and with that three hours, and very detailed scratchy notes, I pretty much jumped in with both feet and built a schedule. So it's very user friendly which is nice."
Julien is in charge of ingesting and scheduling all of the station's content for both its public channel and its government channel. WCAT operates two channels that air 24/7, showing original content, meetings, events, public domain content, and a bulletin board. Some of the station's more popular public access programming includes studio cooking shows, public domain programs such as "The Three Stooges," and an educational show about the area's nearby attractions called "Exploring New England." The government channel provides the area with school committee meetings, selectman meetings, live town meetings, interviews with the town administrator and the superintendent of schools, and political educational programming.
A Perfect Filler
"For a fairly small town we are a busy studio. We're always doing on-site shoots and off-site shoots," Julien said. "The only thing we put on a loop is the bulletin board and even that is only in between programs so it gets the important information out without getting redundant and it's a perfect filler for us."
The bulletin board also helps the station with its scheduling. The station starts all of their programs for both channels on the top or bottom of the hour. However, it's very rare that they have a program with a length that fits nicely into this half-hour block format. So to fill the gap between the end of the programming and the next scheduled program start time, the station utilizes the bulletin board.
"We do half hour and hour blocks just because we find it's the easiest way to keep everyone on the same track," Julien said. "Since hardly any of the shows are exactly a half hour long, it's perfect because we can put the bulletin board in between every program and it works out the best for everyone. You don't have to wait three hours to see if your slide made it up on the bulletin board, you can just wait because it picks up where it left off you can watch it all day and it's not the same three slides every hour, so it gets the variety in."
Using the Advanced Slide Editor, Julien creates slides and announcements, adds them to the bulletin board on the Virtual Channel, and schedules the Virtual Channel to play between programming. The Virtual Channel then remembers where it left off when the scheduled programming begins so that it can pick up where it left off when the channel switches back to it. Because of this feature, all of the station's announcements get displayed before the first slide is repeated.
Between the bulletin board announcements, the entertainment and informational programming of the public access channel, and the meetings and interviews done on the government channel, Julien says the service provided by WCAT is invaluable to the Wakefield residents.
"We're a relatively small town. It's a great little town where everyone likes to be involved in any of the government decisions, so especially with the government channel, where we can go to the local school and broadcast the town meeting live," Julien said. "We did a meeting over the winter and it was negative four degrees by the time we finished. People aren't going to come out when the weather is like that, but they can sit at home in the comfort of their favorite lounge chair and tune into our channel, they can get the entire thing from three different camera angles, with full audio, straight from the middle school to their home, and they don't have to worry about going out. Or, if they have something they have to do they can still get all the information because we'll do repeat programming. Once they see it on TV they know they can come to the studio and get a copy. For the government channel especially it's great to get information out to people who otherwise might not be able to get their hands on it."
Julien also added that the station's public access channel has been a good tool for marketing purposes.
"A lot of the shows we do with the members themselves. We'll show on the public channel so I think it's fun for them to say "Oh, I made a show" and then see it actually broadcast on live TV every day for a week. It's exciting. And it's nice because it raises awareness for the studio itself."
When Julien first started at WCAT she had never heard of LEIGHTRONIX or worked with any type of broadcast scheduling software. Now Julien is an integral part of the station's workflow, working directly with the UltraNEXUS to provide the Wakefield area with two local channels that are in high demand and of great use. The ease of use of the system has been a real boon for the station and allowed Julien to jump into a job working with new software and really excel.
"It's comforting to know even with the next upgraded version it won't be so vastly different that it's terrifying. It's still in that comfort level where it's like ‘Oh, it's just LEIGHTRONIX,' " Julien said.
WCAT needed a system that provided professional television automation, and allowed them to insert slides between programming so that all of their programming could begin on the top or bottom of the hour.
How It Works
The UltraNEXUS allows the station to automate their content for their broadcast station while also incorporating bulletin board slides to keep the schedule operating on a standard half hour block schedule format.
In Their Words
"It's been fantastic. I had never used WebNEXUS, or even heard about LEIGHTRONIX before I started, but I was given a crash course the first week I was here, and it's so user friendly that once you do it a couple of times you just pick it up, so that was really great."
"It's comforting to know even with the next upgraded version it won't be so vastly different that it's terrifying. It's still in that comfort level where it's like 'Oh, it's just LEIGHTRONIX.' "
At a Glance
- Name: Wakefield Community Access TV
- Location: Wakefield, MA
- First Settled: 1638
- Famous Residents:
- John Galvin–US Army general and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander
- Kayla Harrison–first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in Judo (2012)
- Mark Kumpel–former NHL player and member of the 1984 US Olympic Team
- Israel Horovitz–playwright, author of "The Wakefield Plays," and father of Beastie Boy member Adam "Adrock" Horovitz
- John Liley–former NHL player and member of the 1994 US Olympic Team
- Buffy Sainte Marie–folksinger, Academy Award winner, and winner of the 2010 Governor General's Performing Arts Award
- Marcia Pankrats–member of the 1988 and 1996 Olympic field hockey team and former head coach of the University of Michigan field hockey team
- Louis Sullivan–architect, known as the father of modernism
- Carelton S. Coon–former professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, lecuturer/professor at Harvard, and president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists