TV director gives community a voice with a picture

January 10, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

Michael Hannon calls community television the "wave of the future."

The new director of Carroll Community Television, which airs on Channel 19, said the station's strength lies in its ability to be a community voice.

"We can be a great vehicle for getting a message across," he said.

Since he became director three months ago, Mr. Hannon said, he has had little time to get involved in the community or view the county's many attractions.

He is settled in now at his Westminster office, and that all will change soon, he said.

"I haven't seen much of the county beyond Westminster yet, but what I have seen I really like," he said. "This spring, I plan to drive around and really get to see the county. I want to see every city and town here."

He calls Westminster small town U.S.A.

If the spirit moves him, he can walk from his apartment to the station's headquarters on Main Street, where he has a great view of the city's activities.

"I always wanted to live in a small town," he said. "Westminster reminds me of Iowa City, where I grew up."

Following a panel interview process, Micki Smith, deputy director of county administrative services, chose the 27-year-old graduate of the University of Iowa from among 20 candidates.

The county cable committee approved the choice.

Mr. Hannon came here from Fairfax, Va., where he trained volunteer producers for community television. He also has worked as a news photographer.

"Fairfax is so developed," he said. "I am enjoying the land and trees here."

As Channel 19 director, he spends his days getting community projects off the ground, preparing newsletters, overseeing and editing programming and teaching production classes. He said he has been impressed with the quality of previous programs and would like to continue them.

"We air a lot of the standard stuff from documentaries to aerobics," he said. "In access, there is a wide range from the absurd to the serious."

He calls the production classes, which meet twice weekly for 10 weeks, mutually beneficial.

"We get programming, and the students get the word out," he said.

Completion of the course leads to certification and the right to use the station's camera equipment. He encourages students to do their own thing and enjoy the art of film making.

"I am not telling people what to produce," he said. "But, I would like to see more crews out in the community on assignment."

Many students pitch complex ideas without realizing the time involved in such a project, he said. Once reality sets in, they "tone down" their aspirations.

"This is not like turning on a camcorder, letting it run, and then producing a tape from it," he said.

He said he hopes the volunteer producers popularize the station. Playing "getting to know you" is a major part of his job.

"If people don't know we exist, we are dead in the water," he said. "Since Nielsen doesn't bother with us, there's no way to know how many viewers we have."

Controversial programming often gives the station an idea of who is watching.

"If it's controversial, viewers call," he said. "And, if one calls, there are probably more who feel the same way."

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