By Lance Mungia
Hi and welcome to my new bi-weekly column on all things Monrovia Community Television. Herein, we will share what is new at your KGEM community access TV studio.
What is community access TV? You may know that KGEM’s been broadcasting on Time Warner channel three in Monrovia for over 30 years and has grown from humble beginnings, but did you know what that takes and how you can be involved?
In a nutshell, KGEM-TV is a non-profit place in Monrovia for you to produce your own television show as a volunteer, or just to learn production, for free. Several folks over the years have parlayed that experience into real careers, and in fact just about every person on the KGEM staff began at one point as a volunteer, including me as executive director.
In 2009, due to changes in obscure laws that resulted in staff and funding cuts, dozens of other stations like us closed all around California … and KGEM did not. We lost technical staff and equipment, but proudly remained one of only four community stations open in Southern California and the only one with a budget well under $500,000 annually, actually less than half any other station. In the time since, we have managed to make up losses and grow as well.
In large part, all that is thanks to local volunteers, the forward thinking of our volunteer board and of our city council and city staff, who years ago recognized the need for diverse partnerships to keep community television feasible in Monrovia.
Recently we have experienced some uncertainty about funding with the closure of Champion Cable that we have managed to overcome with the help of our city staff and Giggle Fiber, however I will save that story for our next installment.
For now, I thought it best to kick off this new column with some truly fantastic news about our newest local partnership, with Mt. Sierra College. KGEM’s just received the largest donation in its history from the college, a Monrovia based multimedia, IT, and design school. Mt. Sierra is generously giving $60,000 in donations this year to implement a collaboration benefiting both Mt. Sierra students and local residents as it ensures the long term viability of local community TV.
KGEM and Mt. Sierra have consulted together for years on curriculum and new technology and we have had several interns from there. This year however, with the coming of Mt. Sierra’s new technology campus only a block away from the KGEM studio, we are developing a series of new workshops where KGEM volunteers and staff and Mt. Sierra students can learn from each other.
Mt. Sierra student projects will soon be airing on KGEM, providing more local content. Mt. Sierra students will be working closely with KGEM staff as part of their curriculum and we hope to expand the curriculum in coming terms to include more local production opportunities. We will be working with other local partners as well to make KGEM a place anyone can further their education in film/TV production from playground to a place like Mt. Sierra, whose donation has allowed us maintain stable hours at the studio as other sources of income shift. Thanks to the collaboration we have been able to hire an additional staffer to work with students and maintain daily needs of the KGEM studio.
KGEM remains the only local place where, even if you have no experience, you can come and learn with film and television industry professionals and work on real productions seen by the local community, affecting the local community, and for the local community.
If you have not been by KGEM in a while, or if you have never been, please stop by and see our newly renovated studio at 847 E. Olive Ave. We have been sprucing the place up for you. We produce your local city meetings, concerts in the park, and various volunteer shows. Our volunteers and staff just filmed six separate shows for this February’s Black History month alone.
Whether you are looking to be a show host or more technically savvy, KGEM’s a good place to start, and it is just around the corner.
Find out more about us at www.foothillsmedia.org or www.kgem.tv.