For viewers this summer, gavel-to-gavel coverage of Island government meetings, high school sports and an eclectic array of original programming may appear unchanged on Martha’s Vineyard Television.
But for the people behind the cameras and the scenes at the Island’s only public access television station, huge change is in the offing as the station prepares to move to a new facility that is nearly complete off the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road.
“It’s a total upgrade for us,” station manager Stephen Warriner said at the new building this week. “This is the right size for this community for right now. We don’t have to use our studio as a meeting room and a classroom . . . it’s going to allow us to do a lot more. It’s going to allow us to have a proper space for the first time.”
The new 4,000-square-foot facility includes three studios, editing rooms, offices, a control room, storage and two bathrooms.
For the past 10 years MVTV has operated out of a 1,350-square-foot building at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. The lease with the school district ends this year.
The station used about $400,000 it had saved since 2002 to buy the land and create engineering and architectural plans, and a $750,000 mortgage was taken out to pay for most of the construction, Mr. Warriner said.
The architect is Bruce MacNelly of MacNelly Cohen Architects in West Tisbury. A large MVTV logo is painted on the rounded exterior wall of the studio at the building’s entrance. The main studio includes a green screen for graphics and animation; a black curtain will be installed to create a backdrop for traditional news and interview shows. The kitchen studio includes ovens, stove, sinks, cabinets and a center island for food shows, Mr. Warriner said.
“Anyone can do it — it doesn’t have to be just chefs either,” said Mr. Warriner, who is considering doing a cooking show himself.
Around the corner is what is called a hot studio, where cameras and monitors will be mounted to the walls and a producer can operate the controls.“You can do your own switches and you don’t
need any of our staff,” Mr. Warriner said. One of the advantages to having the studio at the high school was the easy access for students, Mr. Warriner said. But programming with students will continue and transportation will be arranged for them to the new location, just down the road.
“Kids are one of the most important parts of MVTV,” Mr. Warriner said. “We want to be sure to continue that.”
MVTV broadcasts 650 shows a year, including sports, news programs and original programing, and 800 hours of government television. Government meetings have been available on demand on the station’s website, which has proven to be so popular that the towns have requested additional filming for meetings, Mr. Warriner said.
The new space will help foster new original shows, Mr. Warriner said, a trademark of public access television. The first programming on MVTV was hosted by William Waterway, who showed old telemedia programs from the 1980s, Mr. Warriner said.
“Anyone can produce what they want, provided it’s not slanderous,” Mr. Warriner said. “We do not prescreen anything. The only thing I care about is can a kid watch it.” Producers must sign a contract before the show.
“That’s part of the deal with public access — we don’t judge anyone’s programming,” Mr. Warriner said. “Not so much here but in other parts of the country it can get quite bizarre. Here, it’s been great.”