These Guys Make Your Local TV

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The SHAW TV team, Left; Christian Lemay, Centre; Jonathan Periard, Right ;Greg Seyler
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Inside the mobile truck that normally holds about 6 crew members during a hockey game broadcast.

It could be live coverage of city council meetings, or live OHL action with Greyhound Hockey, parades, debates and other local programming through out the year, all comes from a small but dedicated team that brings you life in Sault Ste. Marie on TV.

Now known as SHAW TV, local community cable channels have been around since the early 1960’s  when mandated by the CRTC for cable operators to provide public access to the airwaves with a channel provided and equipment to produce “community programming”

Today, community channels are slick operations utilizing a group of volunteers managed by a small paid staff that put together the backbone of local television shows in Sault Ste. Marie.

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Producer Christian Lemay is also the volunteer co-coordinator. He trains volunteers how to work the camera, lighting and sound and other production techniques.

Cable television had a rough start locally though, Frank DelBosco, who helped launch the service in Sault Ste. Marie told SaultOnline.com , “Wawa had cable tv before the Sault did”  DelBosco, who was operations manager then General Manager of Lake Superior Cablevision, started with Continental Cable in 1963, “we had eight channels”  DelBosco said, “it was a very hard sell in the Sault, people wanted more channels but didn’t want to pay for them” . Cable TV had door to door salespeople who sold the service on better picture quality than over-the-air antenna. In Wawa, basically used as a testing ground for the new tv service was called Jamestown Cable then Wawa Cable at the time owned by Montreal based, Redi-vision before expanding to Sault Ste. Marie in 1963.

By the mid to late 1960’s cable tv started to take off locally.   Continental Cable offered the Sault’s first community access channel then known as Cable3. The first studio was located on Gore Street south of Albert Street. Host Jane Richards would often interview people about services and local events. The business office was located across from the Memorial Gardens on Queen Street.

Continental Cable was sold and merged in the early 1970’s with Huron Broadcasting who operated TV, Radio and now cable TV in Sault Ste. Marie, it was renamed “Lake Superior Cablevision” It operated from a store front location on Queen Street next to Lawrence’s Drug Mart (now the CDC office)  DelBosco remembers how rudimentary  the broadcast equipment for the Community Channel was back then. “it was all second hand – we actually started on film before videotape”  DelBosco himself hosted a weekly show in Italian, “Profilo Italiniano” for several years on the Community Channel that eventually became Cable 10 as a country wide standard for community channels.

“I loved every minute being part of it” DelBosco remembers fondly. DelBosco retired when Lake Superior Cable was sold to Maclean-Hunter  in the 1990’s.  The office and studio was relocated to Manitou Drive in a brand new building and much more room for trucks and equipment.

Jonathan Periard, starting working full time at the channel 18 years ago after free lancing for a while and finishing television school.Periard  is now in charge of the day to day operation of the channel as Programming Supervisor. He could also be found at any number of local events over the years covering stories for the staple SHAW TV show, GO! Sault Ste. Marie.

Community Channels today have a mix of paid staff and community tv volunteers as well as access producers.

“maintaining a solid volunteer base is probably the biggest challenge” Periard said, “we have 12 (volunteers) now but we’re always looking for more ”

When you see this truck, you know local tv is being made
When you see this truck, you know local tv is being made

The job of training new volunteers for crew positions on City Council or live Greyhound Hockey games is handled by Christian Lemay producer and reporter for Go!  Lemay, native of Sudbury Ontario started freelancing in 2004 for SHAW TV in Sault Ste. Marie and joined the staff in 2010  along with Greg Seyler who volunteered at MacLean Hunter at the age of 14 before making TV his career.  Seyler now produces segments for SHAW and directs live coverage of Greyhound Hockey.

SHAW TV has also expanded it’s offerings online as many other media companies have making the Sault’s Community TV Channel truly global – you can find it at  http://shaw.ca/shawtv/saultstemarie/

“Often times the community channel allows those who have an interest in tv to try it out before they decide to go to school for it and then discover they don’t like it”   Periard said.  Many broadcast professionals starting out as a volunteer at their community channels  could end up with a life-long career in television or media.

Today, SHAW TV in Sault Ste. Marie offers the public the only local reflection on television and continues to cover important events live such as the annual Remembrance Day ceremony , Rotaryfest and Santa Parade , City Council coverage, Hockey and other sports as well as community produced programs from independent producers .

The crew is excited about a new refurbish of the mobile truck coming up and another busy season of  Local Community Television.

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SHAW TV recently held an open house at the Essar Centre for the public to learn more about the Community Channel and allow the public to browse through the Mobile Truck facilities

Those interested in submitting a programming proposal or volunteering for production staff should contact SHAW at 23 Manitou Drive phone (705) 541-7564 or email shawtvssm@shaw.ca