ANYTHING GOES on local access television making it one of the most fascinating channels on the dial. In LTV’s library there are some 25,000 tapes created by the people of East Hampton ranging from serious debate to the eccentric and experimental. These tapes document a more than 30-year span of the life of a town that has seen enormous changes. Many of the early tapes feature people and vistas now long gone. It’s hard to imagine the community without LTV and yet, when it began…
…THEY ALL LAUGHED. To an audience used to slick network fare, the notion of homegrown TV was funny – and funny looking. LTV, born in a garage on the edges of the town dump on Springs Fireplace Road, began regular cablecasting in 1984. Programs were made on castoff vintage equipment and shows often went out in hues of green with audio often fading into silence. Going on location required a special kind of brawn. In the mid-80s, portable cameras were the size of suitcases and audio had to go along as its own deck.
AS TIME GOES BY
Somehow it all survived thanks to the determination and zeal of founders Frazer Dougherty and his wife Frances Ann Cannon Dougherty, who contributed much-needed funds to keep the doors open; Bill King, who designed our “eye catching” logo; Jill Keefe, who produced the first show in the archive; Bill Fleming, who was and is the host of LTV’s longest running show; and the East Hampton residents who got hooked on the notion of television by the people.
“MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR, NEIGHBOR”
In 1986, LTV began community classes in Production. People from every walk of life in East Hampton signed on. An early show, hosted by Jeffrey Potter, caught the spirit of the station in its “neighborly” title: Meet Your Neighbor, Neighbor. Here was a station that celebrated the local scene and local character; LTV was about us. Eric Glandbard, LTV’s first Station Manager, trained dozens of citizen producers who over the next seven years created a substantial body of work featuring television for the people and by the people of the East End.
KEEPING AN EYE ON THE TOWN
LTV began taping as many Town Board Meetings as possible in 1980. By the time LTV was incorporated in 1984, the government and the people had grown to depend on the camera and the Town Board Meetings became LTV’s most watched show. Judith Hope was the first Supervisor to really recognize the benefit of LTV taping meetings and Tony Bullock was the first Supervisor to host a show: On the Line With the Supervisor. The schools also got involved. The East Hampton High School Bonac Broadcasting aired games and a news show, the student produced Springs School In Action aired weekly. Students came to LTV on field trips and many high school and Southampton College students signed on as interns.
In 1992, LTV embarked on an ambitious fund drive and relocated to its present location on Industrial Road in Wainscott. Here, on land leased from the Town, a huge building went up which today houses editing suites, “talk-show” style studios, a well equipped kitchen studio, a tech shop, the archive library and Studio 3, a large, free-form “black box” for public forums and performance dedicated to the late Frances Ann Dougherty for her financial support. With money and overhead always a problem, LTV’s Board of Directors spent years urging the Town to negotiate a favorable contract with Cablevision and then years more urging the Town to direct those funds to PEG Access.
FROM VINTAGE TO VANGUARD
At last, in 2001 a generous contract with the Town and Village made possible a complete overhaul in equipment and provided substantial operating funds. Moving from analog to digital, from volunteer cablecasters to computer-operated programming, LTV now boasts 2 channels – Education and Government Channel 22 for our schools and government, and LTV Channel for our residents and non-profit organizations. Both Town Hall and Village Hall have been outfitted with camera and broadcasting equipment enabling the live airing of meetings and all Village and Town Board meetings, Zoning, Planning, Architectural Review, Trustees, and School Board meetings are recorded for broadcast, if not shown live.
THE BOTTOM LINE
LTV is funded with the franchise fee Cablevision pays to East Hampton Town and Village. Through contracts with The Town and the Village of East Hampton, a portion of that franchise fee (roughly 70%) supports LTV. Cablevision also grants LTV an annual fee for equipment upgrades. Additional funding comes from our contributors, underwriters, grants, production services, and memberships fees. LTV funding does not come from property taxes.
THE REAL TREASURE…
…is in our video archives. We have interviews with artists, writers and old-time baymen, Bonackers and other local characters now gone. There are nature shows and views of our beautiful surroundings unbroken by development. There are historic films of hurricanes and parades and celebrations of who we are; and debates, protests and testimonials of what we care about. Every year these tapes grow more precious and preserving them has become a priority. Following the lead of the National Archives in Washington D.C. we now integrate our library into a sealed digital program from which Producers and LTV Staff can extract footage as needed.
ON TOP OF ONLINE
LTV’s website, www.ltveh.org provides live streaming of both channels, as well as a Video-on-Demand library of recently aired shows so that you can keep up with the goings-on from both far and near. Everything you need or want to know about LTV is there – including a Producers’ Portal with everything a producer needs to start cablecasting his or her show on LTV.
WE THE PEOPLE
LTV20 and EG22 together program more new shows per week than any other access station on Long Island. LTV belongs to the people of this town. And thanks to the Founders, LTV’s Board of Directors, the forward thinking of East Hampton Town and Village, and countless Producers and volunteers over the years, we do today what we promised to do 30 years ago in providing this unique place access to its own television channel on which they can connect and create for the community.