This week, the Community Media Access Partnership (CMAP) turned
over the hourglass and began the countdown to our channel
By Suzanne St. John

This week, the Community Media Access Partnership (CMAP) turned over the hourglass and began the countdown to our channel launch.

My blood pressure has certainly increased, as has my coffee and chocolate intake, but in the end, it will be worth it (even if I have to hit the gym a few extra times to fit in my wedding dress in a few months).

There is a definite hum in the air, and I’m not talking about the sound our playback system makes. We’re all feeling the buzz of a seven-year goal coming to fruition. On Jan. 10 at 6 p.m., Hollister, San Juan Bautista and Gilroy will have their own television channels, allowing residents, non-profit organizations, schools and government entities to be heard, loud and clear – and commercial free – on cable television.

It’s hard to believe that a little over a year ago, I walked into a shared office at Gavilan College to start building CMAP.

Gavilan provided me with a desk and a phone. CMAP didn’t even have a checking account yet, let alone staff, equipment, or any office supplies. Talk about starting from scratch.

Being a video producer, I knew exactly what I wanted to buy for our members to use, and exactly what sort of staff we’d need to make this station tick … but what a road it would be to get there.

I remember ordering our first VCR. There I was, the lone CMAP staff person sharing office space with Gavilan folks, and the UPS guy walked in.

“A package for C…something …. CMAP? What the heck is that?”

I grabbed the box out of his hands and tore it open. There it was – our first inventory item.

Honestly, I got a little misty-eyed. The UPS guy probably thought I was nuts. Why is this woman getting emotional over a VCR? He had no idea. I don’t think anyone did.

Our small staff of five has undertaken the monumental and exciting task of programming four local access channels for the cities of Hollister, San Juan Bautista and Gilroy.

Being an 11-year industry veteran, I know that most access centers in this country have double our staff (and budget), and are managing half the channels, but I’m also confident that they don’t have the tremendous passion for this project that we’ve got, nor the encouragement and support from the three communities that we’ve been blessed with.

We’ve got all of the right ingredients to make this thing fly, folks!

What can you expect to see on these channels? Let me tell you. Channel 17 will feature increased regional and local government programming, as well as a flashy new graphics system in Hollister and San Juan Bautista.

We’ll be programming Army NewsWatch, coverage of local events (like the two-hour Garlic Festival highlights), and the live Hollister Independence Rally coverage. We’ll also be importing specials like the Leon Panetta lecture series and Sam Farr’s telecast.

Channel 18, or Gav-TV as it has been named by the Channel 18 committee here at the college, will feature a blend of programming produced on campus, as well as commercial free, post-secondary educational content from across the country.

Channel 18 Committee Chairperson Marilyn Abad-Cardinalli is working tirelessly on producing original content here at Gavilan, with students and staff as the video production crew.

CMAP has added an electronic bulletin board to the channel, which will feature a Gavilan’s events calendar.

Channel 19 will feature free educational programming from sources like Annenberg, Shamu-TV, Project Oceanography, as well as videos produced by local schools. Teachers, students, administrators – we want your videos.

Imagine being able to air your theater productions, student news telecasts, sporting events, student produced short movies and public service announcements all for free on Channel 19.

Channel 20 is all about the community. It’s all about you. CMAP, the cable company, the college, nor the cities can dictate what airs on Channel 20. It’s purely commercial free, community programming.

We have created and will be airing public service announcements to educate viewers as to what public access is. To date, submissions for Channel 20 include Life Changing Word, a series of locally produced religious programs featuring the interfaith community from Hollister; San Benito County Focus, a talk show produced by the San Benito County Business Council; and Hollister On the Spot, a magazine show produced by Watchdog out of Hollister.

The people producing these programs are community volunteers who have something to say. They’re not video engineers or “techies” necessarily. We’ll teach you how to use the equipment and make your own TV show.

Never fear. Just give us a buzz when you’re ready.

I invite you to check out our programming schedules online, starting next month at I also invite you to celebrate with us on Jan. 10, either from your living room (if you’ve got cable!), or in person. After all, “This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship …”

Suzanne St. John is the director of Community Media Access Partnership at Gavilan Community College.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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