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It’s all on Channel 5

In-house TV station a valuable resource for information, entertainment

Created date

February 26th, 2014
In-house TV station a valuable resource for information, entertainment
In-house TV station a valuable resource for inform

Among 150-some resident groups and activities offered at Ann’s Choice, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Bucks County, Pa., the most unexpected might be Channel 5, the in-house TV studio.

“This is my seventh retirement community but my first TV studio,” says Executive Director Chris Donati. “It’s a terrific activity and a tremendous communication tool.”

Nancy Lee Breece, an Ann’s Choice resident ambassador, is a big fan. “I always tell new residents to watch Channel 5 because they’ll get so much information. The week’s menus, snow removal schedules, the Sunday night movie title—that’s all on Channel 5.”

Discovering new talents

“You can spend 20 minutes twice a week watching Channel 5 and know everything that’s happening at Ann’s Choice,” says resident and frequent producer Joan Greenberg.

The in-house TV station airs activities and resident-related programming, monthly shows by department heads, and local school board and township meetings.

The Medical Minute, featuring a snippet of information each segment, will debut this year. 

Station coordinators David Rector and Morgan Gioffre advise and support a cadre of resident volunteers who handle behind-the-scenes jobs ranging from camera and audio work to directing, producing, and editing. On camera, they do interviews and host their own programs.

Producer Joan Greenberg calls the studio a safe environment because shows are taped, not aired live. “And with so many different jobs, you can really explore your hidden TV person,” she says.

Behind the scenes of Ann’s Choice

Donati is one of those explorers. He’s currently starring in Not-So-Undercover Boss, a reality show that’s a big hit with residents. 

At a leadership retreat last spring, a brainstorming session led to the idea of job shadowing as a team-building exercise. 

Enamored with network TV’s Undercover Boss program, Donati decided to do the shadowing and let Channel 5 videotape his adventures.

On taping day, he dons the proper uniform, reports to the designated Ann’s Choice supervisor, and asks to be treated like any other employee.  

“It’s amazing what you learn when you put on the uniform and just do the job,” he says. 

When he hosted in the Garden Room Restaurant, the high school students who work in dining services ran circles around him assigning available tables and efficiently seating people. Donati often felt he was simply in their way.

“Because the employees either knew their jobs so well or worked in adverse conditions, I gained a better respect for every job I did,” he says.

He’ll never forget planting trees and clearing pond scum with the grounds crew on an excruciating hot summer day. The same goes for washing dishes and cleaning drains in Fireside Restaurant’s kitchen. 

The kitchen supervisor took such pride in clean dishes that he checked Donati’s work to ensure he’d done a proper job. Donati was impressed and humbled.

At nearly every job, he learned something that caused him to suggest changes such as cooler summer uniforms for the grounds crew.

The station is taping additional episodes this year, and Donati, bitten by the TV bug, is brainstorming additional program ideas.