Tom Thinnes thought it would be fun to bring a little nostalgia to a recent Public Media Network board meeting. He strolled in wearing a bright orange T-shirt stamped with the Community Access Center logo. The bitter-sweet moment marked the end of an era for Thinnes. It was his last meeting as a board member and he wanted to go out with smiles, not tears.
“I have always regarded Public Media Network as one of Kalamazoo’s town treasures, not only for its service as the people’s voice with a remarkable five channels, but also for its glowing example of intergovernmental cooperation,” said Thinnes. “In addition to PMN’s daily support of our community and its residents, I have taken great pride in the relocation of its headquarters to the Epic Center in the community’s hub.”
Community Access Center began in 1983 and Thinnes joined the board in 1995. He was a reporter for the Kalamazoo Gazette who had a passion for news. More importantly, he had a desire to equip citizens with the tools to tell their own stories through the lens of the video camera.
While the industry has grown from Beta and VHS tapes to live streams and digital downloads, Thinnes continued to be instrumental in making sure the public media organization remained true to providing access for people to share stories important to their community. His contributions to the board helped set the tone for the nonprofit community media organization and its move from Crosstown Parkway to the Epic Arts Center.
“Tom’s contributions to public access and community-based media, have been invaluable,” said PMN Executive Director Matt Schuster. “Tom brought wit and great insight into the information needs of the community to the organization. We are excited that Tom will continue to be involved with PMN as a member of the Community Advisory Board.”
Thinnes has hope that PMN will continue to provide a much-needed media outlet.
“As the nation tries to cope with the demise of local journalism and the expanding number of ‘news deserts,’ I am hopeful that PMN can be the organization that helps correct this threat to democracy in our home region in more ways than only televising public meetings of governmental decision-makers.”