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Busy on set

More than 130 resident volunteers put Brooksby TV on the air

Created date

March 15th, 2018
CTV Coordinator Jessica Rogers (standing) leads a workshop for volunteers interested in learning more about stage managing in Brooksby’s TV studio.

CTV Coordinator Jessica Rogers (standing) leads a workshop for volunteers interested in learning more about stage managing in Brooksby’s TV studio.

Not long after Kathryn Kirleis moved to Brooksby Village in July 2015, a listing on the Peabody community’s monthly calendar piqued her interest.

“It was a meeting for residents interested in volunteering in the TV studio,” says Kathryn, a retired social worker. “My curiosity about broadcasting came right back up to the surface.”

Years ago, as a student at Sewanhaka High School on Long Island, Kathryn cohosted a radio program with a friend.

“I’ve always had an interest in different forms of media,” says Kathryn. “Working in Brooksby’s TV studio gives me an outlet to pursue it.”

Resident-driven

Brooksby’s state-of-the-art television studio is located on the second floor of the community’s McIntosh Clubhouse. More than 130 resident volunteers, supported by full-time staff members, produce 50 hours of original programming each month.

“The shows we produce and the equipment we operate is all driven by residents,” says Patrick Gordon, lead CTV coordinator. Gordon came to Brooksby in October 2012 with 15 years of experience in public access television in Malden and Plymouth. “It’s amazing to watch residents come into the studio, say they want to help, and after hands-on training, work the cameras or manage the panel in the control room.”

Brooksby’s TV studio runs two channels, 918 and 919, which are available on campus to the community’s 1,700 residents.

Channel 919 is the community channel, which airs a variety of programs, interviews, and special events. Channel 918 is the chapel channel, which airs religious and spiritual programming, including services that take place in Brooksby’s interfaith chapel.

Full scope

As a resident volunteer, Kathryn has filled a number of roles in the studio. She’s currently the producer of Good Day Brooksby, an informational show about happenings around the community that airs live twice a week.

“I’ve also been a stage manager who gives signals to ensure the program runs smoothly, and I’ve been an events reporter,” says Kathryn. “That’s the thing about the TV studio. You can be trained in any position.”

Jessica Rogers joined the TV team in 2017, coming to Brooksby with experience in broadcast television both behind and in front of the camera.

As CTV Coordinator, Rogers regularly holds workshops for new residents who want to learn more about the TV studio or those who want to learn a new skill in the studio.

“Many of our volunteers are cross-trained,” says Rogers. “In TV, it’s good to know a little bit about all the steps involved in putting a show together.”

The collaborative venture results in a one-stop source of information about daily life at Brooksby.

“I love what I’m doing,” says Kathryn. “It’s rewarding to see our efforts come together in a show for the community, about our community.”

Learning as they go

Brooksby’s TV studio caught Cliff Kent’s eye even before he moved to the community with his wife Judy.

“The studio was one of the main reasons we chose Brooksby,” says Cliff, who retired as director of foreign languages for Beverly Public Schools after 44 years in education. “Our apartment is one floor up from the studio. Three or four days after we moved in, I walked into the studio, and I’ve been working there ever since.”

In what he calls his “fantasy career,” Cliff volunteers as a camera operator, technical director, and editor, demonstrating just how central a role the residents play in the TV studio’s daily operation.

“I had some editing experience from my years in education,” he says. “And I enjoy being behind the camera.”

Cliff partners with host Helen Millican to produce a segment for Good Day Brooksby called “Shelf of the Week,” which highlights unique décor outside residents’ apartment homes.

He films the segment using a portable camera, edits the content, and creates a file that’s ready to pop in the switcher and play.

“Once our volunteers are trained on the equipment, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish,” says Gordon. “They’re the ones producing television.”

State-of-the-art equipment and set

As the resident volunteer base in the TV studio has increased over the years, so, too, has the equipment and set.

Several years ago, high-definition control room equipment replaced analog standard definition equipment. In 2014, the TV studio partnered with the community’s woodworkers, who built the backdrop for a new set in the studio.

In 2017, the studio’s website, brooksbytv.com, upgraded its format to allow web visitors to stream Brooksby’s TV shows on demand in high definition.

And in the coming year, the studio hopes to install high-definition equipment in the catering room and chapel, giving a clearer picture and sound for programs broadcast from those locations.

“Exciting things are happening in the studio,” says Gordon. “We’re continually looking ahead to what’s coming next and how we can make things better.”

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