At the request of the Kalamazoo City Commission, research is undertaken in the potential uses of cable television in the Kalamazoo area.
Dec 1980 – Jan 1981
Public hearings are held to determine community interest in obtaining access to local cable television channels.
Following lengthy negotiations, a 15 year Consent Agreement is signed by the City of Kalamazoo and Fetzer Cablevision, with other communities on the 35 channel system signing separate agreements. The Kalamazoo agreement includes four channels for community use, plus funding to support those channels.
A seven member Advisory Committee for Community Access Television is appointed by the Kalamazoo City Commission. Design work begins on an access center.
Cable TV Division established within the office of the City Manager. A Cable Administrator and Access Facilitator are appointed to work with the Advisory Committee.
Seven hours of programming presented per week on access channels 5, 6, 7, and 9.
Grand opening of the Community Access Center at 230 East Crosstown Parkway. Video production workshops begin.
Twenty hours of programming per week are presented on Access.
Six communities on the cable system begin meeting with the intent of establishing a multigovernmental entity to administer and fund access.
First Anniversary celebration. Over 1,000 persons have been trained and 70 hours of programming produced. Over 30 community groups have produced programming.
Several awards won: an “Ace” award from the National Cable Television Association, a grand award in the public information category from City Hall Digest, a “Philo” from the National Federation of Local Cable Programmers and the Distinguished Management Award from the City Manager.
CAC becomes a “Separate Legal Entity” (SLE) representing the City of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Township and Oshtemo Township. Membership on the Board of Directors is based on the number of cable subscribers per jurisdiction and appointments are made by the elected officials of the represented jurisdictions.
First Telethon raises over $8,000 in community support of CAC activities. Nearly 1,800 persons trained, over 80 hours of programming presented per week and almost 100 organizations have produced programming.
Survey by WMU research team shows more than 86% of cable subscribers are aware of access programming, 61% consider themselves “verified viewers” and 26% state access is a consideration in their decision to subscribe to cable.
Four Kalamazoo Access programs win the 1985 Hometown USA Video Festival, a national competition sponsored by the National Federation of Local Cable Programmers. Kalamazoo is one of only five cities in the country to receive more than one award.
The Community Access Center begins tradition of live coverage of City of Kalamazoo election returns. Interview with candidates and reports on precinct totals are provided by Dhera Strauss, Lisa Godfrey and Caroline Ham. The League of Women Voters serves as the production crew.
The Township of Comstock and the City of Parchment join the Access Center as part of the Separate Legal Entity.
Second Telethon results in over $11,000 in donations. Over 2,000 people now trained to use CAC equipment, more than 90 hours of programming presented on the Access channels per week and over 100 community organizations have used Access.
Fetzer Cable System is purchased by Cablevision Systems Corporation. Cablevision agrees to be bound by all the terms and conditions of the 1981 Consent Agreement originally signed by Fetzer and the City until 1996. The Access channels are moved to channels 30, 31, 32 and 33.
Fifth Anniversary is observed with a reception honoring governmental representatives from the five jurisdictions as well as several CAC volunteers. First CAC Board Chairman Charles T. Mangee is honored with commemorative “Charlie” Award, henceforth to be presented to the CAC’s Volunteer of the Year at the annual “ANNT” Awards Ceremony.
Over 3,000 persons have been trained, more than 115 hours of programming presented each week on Access channels and over 150 organizations use CAC to get their word out. Locally produced first-run programming averages 18 hours a week.
Fifth Telethon raises over $20,000 in community donations. Over 125 hours of programming presented per week.
The Community Access Center honored with the National Federation of Local Cable Programmer’s 1990 Community Communications Award as the “Best Access Center in the USA.”
CAC initiates Open Studio Program, which provides non-profit organizations with the opportunity to produce a free 30-minute show promoting their services. Within three months more than thirty organizations take part.
CAC Board of Directors commissions a 13 member Futures Committee to explore future mass media technological initiatives locally, regionally and nationally. What role the Community Access Center will play in interactive communication is the focus of study.
Cablevision of Michigan provides its final $150,000 capital payment to the Access Center under the terms of the franchise agreement. A committee made up of volunteer producer’s assists the center in determining how $100,000 is spent in equipment upgrades.
The Futures Committee presents its final report to the Community Access Center Board. It affirms CAC’s continuing mission of providing an electronic community forum firmly grounded in the First Amendment as well as promoting the use of various electronic networks for the purpose of linking and informing area citizens.
CAC coordinates and facilitates a live two-way interactive video demonstration linking five school sites through cable television. By interconnecting two cable television systems (Cablevision of Michigan and Jones Cable), students and staff from the Kalamazoo Area Math and Science Center are able to see, hear and participate in an interactive lesson with high schools in Portage, Schoolcraft, Parchment and Kalamazoo.
A satellite dish is installed at the Access Center in collaboration with the MSU Cooperative Extension service to downlink regional and national programs of community interest.
Tenth Anniversary celebrated. More than 4,000 individuals have been trained, more than 190 hours of programming scheduled per week and over 200 organizations use Access to get their message to the community. Locally produced first-run programming averages 24 hours a week.
To prepare for the renewal of the cable franchise, the Board of Directors appoints an Access Advisory Committee to research and advise them on the future needs of the Community Access Center.
Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival is first covered by CAC.
Nationally known cable consultant Robert Devine submits a report on a needs assessment/ascertainment study conducted to prepare for cable refranchising. Included was a quantitative and qualitative review of operations of the CAC, a community ascertainment and an assessment of client and user perceptions of the Community Access Center.
Tim Lyons Memorial Video Club created for area high school students after Tim, a longtime producer, dies in an automobile accident.
Kalamazoo Valley Community College begins offering telecourses for credit over the Access channels.
Kalamazoo Public School’s Black History Quiz Bowl first begins annual taping in CAC studio.
Community Access producer and volunteer Jim Amos win the Voluntary Action Center’s Star Award.
Market survey commissioned by area governments finds 57% of cable subscribers interested in additional local programming.
Buske Group’s Community Programming Index shows CAC consistently above the average compared with access centers across the country in all areas of production as well as in first run local programming.
Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra approaches CAC to cover their concerts in Miller Auditorium on a regular basis.
Coverage of political candidates, ballot issues and election results generate over 70 hours of programming.
Access Advisory Committee submits final report to Board of Directors outlining future needs of the CAC that can be met through the cable franchising process. The report documents the need for funds to replace and upgrade deteriorated equipment, the need for a larger facility, and the need for increased operational support.
A consortium of local governments holds a public hearing on the cable television refranchise which is up for renewal with Cablevision. 30 citizens speak on the value of Community Access and CAC’s future needs.
CAC goes online with an Internet web site.
Community Access Partners incentive program begins. Participating volunteers receive points to be cashed in for “CAC gear”.
CAC covers President Bill Clinton’s visit to Comstock.
Coverage of political candidates, ballot issues and election results generate over 120 hours of programming.
First Teen TV Video Camp offered.
Kalamazoo Township survey indicates almost a quarter of respondents watch the Township Board of Trustees on the Access channels.
CAC receives the Alliance for Community Media 1997 Community Service Award.
First Education for Employment class begins. Eight students from five area high schools meet at CAC every morning for vocational education.
Live coverage of the ordination of Bishop Murray at St. Augustine’s Cathedral.
First college credit course in video production offered at CAC through Sienna Heights Community College.
Education for Employment offers advanced second year class with four students. First year class is at maximum enrollment of 20 students.
Fifteenth Anniversary of the Community Access Center celebrated with an Access Programming Retrospective shown on the channels for 15 successive evenings, an address by noted author and media critic Danny Schechter, a workshop for non-profit organizations on the Open Studio Program, a Producer Roundtable on Socially Relevant Programming and a combination Open House & Party.
Cablecast programming now averages over 230 scheduled hours a week, 5000 people have been trained in video production and over 270 organizations have used Access to reached out to the community. Locally produced first-run programming averages 36 hours a week.