Public Access Provider Unveils Changes

30th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION Anne Shelley, Fayetteville Public Access Television executive director, left, speaks with Carmen Coustaut, associate professor of journalism at the University of Arkansas, center, and Katherine Shurlds, instructor of print journalism at the UA and director of Fayetteville Public Access Television from 1986 to 1990, visit on Thursday prior to the start of a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the founding of the organization at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Fayetteville.
30th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION Anne Shelley, Fayetteville Public Access Television executive director, left, speaks with Carmen Coustaut, associate professor of journalism at the University of Arkansas, center, and Katherine Shurlds, instructor of print journalism at the UA and director of Fayetteville Public Access Television from 1986 to 1990, visit on Thursday prior to the start of a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the founding of the organization at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Fayetteville.

— Like so much of public access television’s more than 30-year history in Fayetteville, an event held Thursday at the Cosmopolitan Hotel didn’t go off without a bit of improvisation and some technical difficulties.

But after the audio for a documentary detailing that history failed, the show went on.

Community Access Television (CAT), the city’s public access provider since the early 1990s unveiled its new name, Your Media, kicked off a fundraising drive and announced it will begin offering media production services outside of its work with Fayetteville Public Access Television, the channel owned by the city of Fayetteville and paid for through franchise fees on cable customers.

The changes come in the wake of a turbulent 2010, which saw two different station managers before Anne Shelley was eventually hired as the provider’s executive director in August.

“There will always be strife, because passionate people turn out for public access,” said University of Arkansas journalism professor Katherine Shurlds, who also ran Fayetteville’s first public access provider, Fayetteville Open Channel.

Shelley said she is excited about Your Media’s future and looks forward to continuing a tradition of “freedom of speech and access to everyone.”

“We feel very strong that our house is in order, like we’re able to be an excellent public access service provider and now we’re able to serve our mission out in the community as well,” Shelley said.

At the city’s television center, 101 W. Rock St., where Your Media will continue to be housed, anyone living in Fayetteville can produce or participate in shows such as “Short Takes,” where residents can come to the television center and voice any opinions they have, an interview show called “On the Air with Richard S. Drake” or a nature program with Fayetteville resident Aubrey Shepherd.

Among the quirkier moments in public access’ long history was documenting a woman giving birth.

Shelley said Your Media is also moving into a new administrative office at Center Street and Church Avenue, where it will seek business from other nonprofit or community organizations that need a hand getting their message out.

“Not everyone is going to have the time or the energy to go to public access and learn how to make their own TV,” Shelley said. “For those organizations and individuals who can’t, we want to fill that gap and make it affordable so that we’re giving back to the community.”

Your Media will receive $93,000 in 2011 under a contract with the city to operate Fayetteville’s public access channel. That’s in addition to the equipment and studio space that the city provides.

In turn, Your Media will be required to train 50 residents this year as a part of that contract.

To do so, the public access provider will offer classes more often and will make those classes free of charge.

“The city is very excited to have Your Media as a public access contributor for 2011,” said Fritz Gisler, who manages Fayetteville’s government channel, on which City Council, board and commission meetings are aired.

Cox Communications customers may find Your Media more difficult to locate this year because of changes made to Cox’s channel lineup late last year.

Your Media programs can now be found on channel 218 for Cox customers. AT&T U-Verse customers must go to channel 99.

Cox customers who are no longer able to view the city’s public access channel still have time to receive a free digital converter box in order to continue watching the channel.

Anyone interested in doing so can call Cox at 479-751-2000 or go to a local Cox store before the end of February.

For more information about Your Media, go to www.your-media.org.