Community Memories and Helpful Information: Orion Neighborhood Television is There
(Lara Mossa, March 9, 2022)
ORION TOWNSHIP – Ian Locke has met local journalists Pat Caputo and Chuck Stokes as well as U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin and famous Fleetwood Mac guitarist Jeremy Spencer – all through Orion Neighborhood Television.
“Something about community TV I have always liked is it allows people to express their first amendment rights without any editing,” said Locke, the Executive Director of the public access channel.
While Lake Orion has had community television for more than 30 years, Orion Neighborhood Television – also known as ONTV – has been a nonprofit charity since 2000. The channel is funded by donations as well as franchise fees paid by Comcast and AT&T U-verse.
Offering a wide variety of multimedia services, ONTV serves the local community government agencies, schools and residents. Some of the main services include recording and televising live school board and government meetings. The channel has an award-winning newscast that runs daily, three times a day, and ONTV televises more than 130 Lake Orion High School sporting events a year. In addition, residents can use the studios to broadcast live weekly TV shows and podcasts.
One of his favorite memories as part of ONTV was the filming of the 2020 LOHS drive-in graduation ceremony, Locke said. This was a tricky assignment because of the pandemic. But it was also special to him, because his daughter was a senior in the class.
His role has required important work too such as keeping local residents informed of the Oxford High School shooting, which happened this fall. Besides covering the vigil and publicizing information about donations, a group from Oxford, called Oxford Strong, even used the studios and technology to host therapy sessions for the community.
The weekly podcasts include volunteers who cover topics ranging from travel and woodworking to a music show hosted by Bob Lowe. ONTV conducts classes for the TV programs, which run about 10 weeks, four times a year. Volunteers pay $55 for the class and learn the basics about how a TV studio works. After the class volunteer producers can use the studio free of charge. Outside groups or businesses can rent our facility and ONTV provides video services for a fee. The two-hour podcast class costs $25. ONTV offers special pricing for nonprofit organizations.
Tracy Woodrum, of Lake Orion, has been producing “Tea with Tracy” for two years. The 100th episode aired March 8. A live show, the program runs every Tuesday at noon.
Woodrum, a local real estate agent, interviews special guests about realty and home ownership as well as special series such as local business spotlights or election news.
“It’s been really fun, because I’ve created great relationships with some of my guests and local business owners that I have as my guests,” said Woodrum, who originally started her program out of her home on Instagram. She became interested in a more formal setting when she was interviewed for a podcast by a local village council woman. Woodrum mentioned how nice it is to feel like a part of the community rather than sitting at home.
The podcast budded during the pandemic, when Woodrum was not able to serve clients in the same ways.
“There was really not much I could do for our business,” she said. “It started off with that and has continued on. It’s taken on a life of its own.”
Joseph Johnson recently celebrated his tenth anniversary with ONTV, and he’s been in the business for decades. He’s the Studio Manager, meaning he not only is a part of making shows, he helps teach classes and produces the ONTV News programs. “I think my favorite aspect of my job is teaching classes and trying to share my enthusiasm with my students, especially those considering a career in video production, journalism or filmmaking,” he said.
“I’m a pop culture junkie, so I really enjoy doing news stories on things like the Motor City Comic Con. Occasionally, I get to interview celebrities like Neve Campbell, actors from The Office, or actors from the Star Wars movies. I like to brag that I’ve photographed or recorded video of 5 Presidents of the United States,” Johnson said.
He and Locke both love working with people and covering different events throughout the area.
“Community TV centers like ONTV are very important to communities,” Locke said. “Journalism is under attack, and the amount of places you can get your news from is shrinking. Community TV is an active and vibrant resource for unfiltered news and information about your community.”
ONTV programs air on cable channels that include public access 10; educational access 22; and government access 20 as well as U-verse 99. In addition, the programs are on Smart TVs including Amazon Fire, Roku and Apple. For more information, go to www.orionontv.org.