SALISBURY, MD---Who says there’s nothing to watch on television these days? Considering the numerous accolades Wicomico County’s local public access station has received in recent weeks, something good must certainly be on.
PAC 14, a public access television partnership between Salisbury University, the City of Salisbury and Wicomico County, recently earned national accolades from the International Reading Association (IRA) for its Ready for School series. The 2006 Broadcast Media Award will be awarded to PAC 14 at the IRA international convention in Chicago this May. The series placed second among entries nationwide in the IRA's 2005 Local Community Service Award competition and also earned honorable mentions from Scholastic Inc. for its Early Childhood Professional Awards in 2005.
Grace Murdock, the series' creator, incorporated a Ready for School “learning box” with the program the first season. Some 100 free learning boxes were distributed to Wicomico area students in 2002. Each year the number of boxes increased and now more than 700 learning boxes have been delivered to eager young learners.
“Children use the materials in the box as they view one of the 19 shows on reading and math in the Ready for School series. I hope to distribute 450 new boxes this spring with the help of Pinehurst Elementary students, staff and area business people who made donations to the project,” said Murdock.
The station also recently received honors for its lawn and garden series, Delmarva Gardens, produced in cooperation with the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension. In 2005 the National Association of County Agricultural Agents named the show a Communication Awards regional finalist. The shows were so well received that the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources maintains many of the full-length videos on their Web site for worldwide use.
The access channel’s recent recognitions fall on the heels of another milestone as PAC 14 celebrates its seventh anniversary this month. On March 15, 1999, the former Access 26 televised its first public access program. Since that day, the public access channel has provided coverage of local events, government meetings, and has seen public usage increase. Its programming has expanded to include popular shows such as One on One with Phil Tilghman, Ready for School, Delmarva Gardens, Birth to Four, Focus on Health and SU on the Air, not to mention coverage of special annual events such as the Salisbury Christmas Parade.
One of the recent programming successes is the Wicomico County Board of Education series Working Together for Children. “Our show on PAC 14 was listed in the 2004 and 2005 annual reports as an engaging initiative and is affirmed by the superintendent of schools, members of the board, teachers and staff members,” said Tracy Sahler and Faye Wilson, co-producers of the series.
Tammy Griffin, public information officer for the Wicomico County Health Department, recently started producing the informational show Public Health Spotlight, which she said has already produced benefits for the public health of local residents. “We have seen increased feedback from residents seeking health related information as a direct result of our show on PAC 14.”
One of PAC 14’s recent innovations was the taping and broadcasting of a total knee replacement surgery, performed by Peninsula Orthopaedic surgeon Pasquale Petrera, for the Focus on Health series. The resulting program shows viewers the intricacies of a knee replacement surgery, something that is typically seen only on national television.
“This program was as well done as any I have seen, and has been an invaluable educational tool for people who are considering this type of surgery,” said Petrera. “Patients who have viewed this program come in with a much better understanding of the surgery, which is a great benefit to the patient.”
Many of the programs seen on PAC 14 are produced by local citizens and non-profit organizations. The station’s mandate is to provide publicly accessible television services to the Wicomico community without the typical restraints of commercial television.
“We are essentially the television equivalent to the public library,” said Mike Goodson, station manager. “The twist is the airtime which is utilized to inform and engage the community. We know the community watches, we know they appreciate our service… engaging our community to become more civic-minded is personally very rewarding.
“It’s been a long road, but I feel were closer than ever to the next big step for public access here in Salisbury. We see the state-of-the-art community access facilities in places like Carroll County, MD, and consider what we could accomplish given the same opportunity. With the community’s help we’ll realize that dream.”
To follow the channel’s mandate and foster public use of the channels services, regularly scheduled qualifying workshops are held to teach novice citizens how to use PAC 14’s cameras and computer editors.
“Interested citizens and local organizations are invited to attend. Just give us a call; we’re here to help,” said Creig Twilley, PAC 14 production manager. For more information or to learn how to produce a show for the station call 410-677-5014 or visit the PAC 14 Web site at www.pac14.org. "