Tribune Print Share Text

Volunteers keep in-house TV station on the air

Oak Crest residents man the cameras, host shows at WOCV Channel 973

Created date

January 22nd, 2013

Cliff Parks has been watching television for as long as he can remember. But ever since he began volunteering at the on-site TV studio at Oak Crest, the Erickson Living community in Parkville, Md., he s gained a new appreciation for what goes on behind the camera. Sometimes, I find myself a little critical of television particularly the news, says Cliff. I ll think to myself, Oh that cameraman needs to move to the left or the right, or They should have cut to a different shot. You start to develop an eye for these things after you have been at it a while.

On-the-job training

Cliff began volunteering at WOCV Channel 973 four years ago after he stopped by the studio on a whim. I walked past the TV studio every day for three months until one day I got up the nerve to stop in and ask if I could take a look, says Cliff. The next thing I knew, the staff was showing me how to focus the camera and zoom in and out. That same day, I helped man the camera with their help as they taped an interview. Two weeks later, they called to see if I was interested in volunteering in the studio, and I ve been there ever since. Cliff joins 44 other volunteers who help the station s three full-time staff do everything from operate the video cameras to host roughly 350 shows each year. Before I moved to Oak Crest, I never could have imagined I would be working in a TV studio operating a camera, says Cliff. But after a few weeks, I was enjoying myself so much I thought I would stick with it. Cliff says he spends about 250 hours a year, an average of 5 hours each week at the TV studio, which includes traveling around the campus filming events. There s really not much to it, says Cliff. Once the camera is set, you just stand back and let it go to work. If you make a mistake, you just correct it as fast as you can and keep moving.

Must-see TV

Station Manager Joshua Runkles says WOCV is an integral part of Oak Crest, and the volunteers are an indispensable part of its success. We rely on volunteers to operate the cameras, produce, host, and edit programs, provide audio voiceovers for our talking bulletin board, and even distribute our TV guides, says Runkles. With programs likeGood Morning Oak Crest, a morning news show; LegalLine, which features live legal advice from attorneys;Mind Over Memory, aJeopardy-style quiz show; andZoomobile, which features live animals from the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, we hope to both educate and entertain our community members, he says. Scott Phillips began volunteering at the studio a little over two years ago. Like most community members, he was looking for something to get involved in, he says. When you retire, I think it s important to keep your brain cells going and to learn something new, says Scott. So after we moved to Oak Crest, I started looking around to see what might interest me. When I came across the TV studio, I thought, Well, that s something I ve never done before. So I went down and talked to the staff. They explained the different volunteer opportunities. I thought being cameraman sounded like it might be fun.

TV s newest ' shooting stars

A retired military analyst for the Department of Defense, Scott quickly mastered the technical aspect of the camera. Learning the mechanics wasn t difficult; it was composing and positioning the shot that took some practice, says Scott. It s really a team effort. The employees act as the director of the production and talk to you through an earpiece so you know exactly what they want you to do. Scott says one of the most fascinating things about working behind the camera is meeting the different people who come into the studio. Sometimes, we have local celebrities, congressmen and women, and even professional athletes from the Baltimore Ravens or Orioles appear as guests, says Scott. Scott says, for him, having the opportunity to work in the studio alongside the rest of the staff has really been a rewarding experience. I am in awe of their patience and caring, says Scott. You know, they have to work with a whole bunch of us, and that can t be easy. But they are so great at doing it!