Here’s to you, Marion Orton.
Actually, the 20th anniversary of the “Fayetteville Television Center” was some months ago, but better later than never, especially when public access itself has been on the brink of extinction so many times.
Today at the Center (101 W. Rock) there will be an open house for the public, and an official re-dedication program.
It is my fervent hope that when folks speak tonight, they will (out loud) remember the reasons that public access - and by extension the Government Channel - has survived for over three decades, often despite city administrations intent on slashing budgets or aldermen (proudly ignorant of the world of public access, or even non-profits in general) declaring that “next year” the station needed to be self-sufficient.
Such administrations and elected officials have always been brought up short by the tremendous support which public access in Fayetteville has always gotten from those who use it or appreciate it.
Over the years, literally thousands of men and women and boys and girls from Fayetteville and our neighboring communities have used public access to share their dreams with the rest of the world.
In the 1990s I happened upon a collection of quilts in the Northwest Arkansas Mall, and found one small patch dedicated to the diversity of public access television - Community Access Television, as it was known as the time.
And that is what it has always been about.
Whether they have been coming to Fayetteville Open Channel, Access 4 Fayetteville, Community Access Television or Fayetteville Public Access Television, what we have seen is a true celebration of diversity.
Liberals. Conservatives. The deeply religious. Atheists. Those who immerse themselves in public access quickly discover that honoring diversity isn’t just hanging out with those you agree with but also giving help when it is needed to those whose beliefs you vehemently oppose.
If you want to see true diversity in action, just hang out at a typical public access station for awhile.
More than that, public access affords us the opportunity to tell our stories to the world, so that people can discover facets of their community they might never have discovered before.
We learn from each other.
And then, of course, we sing to each other. We recite our poetry, or show-off our art, or discuss politics or social issues. .
We are comedians, activists, ministers and candidates running for office. We touch your mind, your heart and your funny bone.
Sometimes we piss you off, and you call the mayor’s office.
This is public access television, and every community should have it. It has more value than YouTube, simply because it belongs to the community; it is their channel.
People’s Revolutionary Television, it is the creation of your co-workers, your friends and family, your neighbors, the guy next to you in the line at Walmart, and the young woman sitting in front of you on the bus.
It is Fayetteville.
The open house begins at 4:30.
And if you can’t make it today, well, why not give them a call anyway, and see what public access can do for you? 444-3433
So here’s to you, Marion Orton.
And while we’re at it, to all the others who fought the good fight in Fayetteville, keeping the channel alive when others would have simply shut it down.
Yes, I helped put the first scratches on the studio floor
In late 1992 I happened to be in the studio one night when someone thought it might it be a grand idea if the piano which had come over from Fayetteville Open Channel could sit in the background of the program being taped that night.
Accordingly, I was press-ganged into service (okay, I volunteered) and several of us managed to move the ancient creature across the floor.
Sadly, in the process, the pristine state of the floor was no more, something which upset station management.
Sheesh, I thought. I’s gonna get scratched up anyway, sooner or later. Still, it’s not much of an achievement, is it, putting the first scratches on a studio floor?
Then again, what were we supposed to do? Pick it up and fly across the room with it? The damn thing was heavy . . .
Today’s blog was accompanied by “Songs and More Songs,” by the great satirist Tom Lehrer.
Many, many thanks to my high school civics teacher who turned me on to him by playing his work in class.
Ah, those pigeons in the park . . .
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I prefer to have too much confidence, and thereby be deceived, than to always be mistrustful. For, in the first case, I suffer only for a moment at being deceived and, in the second, I suffer constantly. - Paul Gauguin
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