From left: Sleepy Hollow Tarrytown Community News students Lilly Zekus, holding the camera, and Amanda Zicca interview bridge engineer Mark Roche for a video story for broadcast on the government and public access channels associated with the Community Media Center on Hudson.While Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. is forever associated with Washington Irving’s story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” since October 1982, the Community Media Center on Hudson has been telling stories that, while perhaps not legendary, inform the towns it is chartered to serve.
For more than 30 years, the Community Media Center on Hudson production facility has been the umbrella organization for Sleepy Hollow’s, Tarrytown’s and Mt. Pleasant’s public, education and government channels, according to Sunny McLean, CMCH’s executive director.
At the beginning, the center oversaw video production for the communities of Briarcliff Manor, Irvington, Mt. Pleasant, Ossining Town, Ossining Village, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown and North Tarrytown, McLean said. Providing production services for all those towns required a “government hub,” hence, the center was established.
During the center’s early years, the studios were used to produce videos while the center covered lectures, street fairs and parades, she said.
Sunny McLean, the executive director of Community Media Center on Hudson, and the center’s sign, which features Washington Irving and his characters Rip Van Winkle and the Headless Horseman.Eventually, “one by one” the municipalities supported the effort to create a PEG channel through the government hub, McLean said. There were some arguments, but the local governments agreed that recording board meetings would be a good idea, she said. “Once that happened, we were then able to go live on the public-access channel to about 40,000 subscribers,” she said.
During its more than three decades, the center has produced about 21,000 local community programs, and the content CMCH currently produces is broadcast over cable on channels 15, 77, 78 and 43, depending where the viewer lives. In addition to content, the center has been providing the communities with studio-facility use and media-journalism, according to McLean.
From the start, a CMCH goal was to provide the communities with open and transparent government, said McLean. It also set out to provide not only access to government, but also a voice that residents can use to make themselves heard, McLean said. “We were trying to expand local government to people and give the communities a voice in our local public access,” she said.
Once the center became the video-production facility for the eight towns, support for the facility began to appear in the way of funding as each town paid the center $100 for every meeting that was recorded, according to McLean. “We had income for the first time,” she said, adding, “We had something to pay the rent.”
Eventually, the center informed the municipalities that funding did not have to come out of their budgets, but could be directed out of the cable franchise fees, McLean said. Today, only one town continues to pay for the center to cover board meetings.
Programs broadcast on the PEG channels include the Sleepy Hollow Downtown Revitalization Corp.’s seasonal events; the “Sleepy Hollow Mayor’s Report”; Salvation Army events; Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown “Living Histories”; John Paulding School and Washington Irving School events; and Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown fire-department events, as well as talk shows, news and training sessions.
Bob Andren shoots video at the Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow annual ‘Duck Derby’ for the Community Media Center on Hudson.In addition, in June 2011 the station launched a new component to the community access center, the “Sleepy Hollow-Tarrytown Community News,” which produces local content for and about those communities. The center covers local happenings and news in the form of written stories, video media, studio talk shows, live events and documentaries across Web and cable platforms.
Further, the center provides community-media workshops to the residents of Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown and Mt. Pleasant, McLean said. The center also offers middle school, high school and college students credited internships in media arts, television, news, Web technology, the performing and digital/print arts, advertising and credit for special projects.
Like most such facilities, the center has a presence on Facebook and YouTube to “connect with friends”; share photos and videos; promote community organizations, businesses, local events, lectures, local news, tag sales and fundraisers; and disseminate job openings and church or club information relevant to the communities.
Highlights of the center’s more than 30 years are:
From 1987–2004, the center maintained station operations and a live channel for eight communities and broadcast into 41,000 households.
In 2000, the center created a three-camera, digital government production facility and active bulletin board serving.
In 2005, the center constructed a small community- recording studio in Sleepy Hollow that it shares with health-care provider Phelps Hospital. The recording facility is a digital community-access studio on the second floor of Phelps James House mansion on the hospital’s campus.
In 2011, the center moved its second studio to 54 Main St., Tarrytown, where it provides a three-camera, digital studio and post-production facilities.
Community Media Center on Hudson