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NEAT TV

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June 11, 2007

By CYRUS LEVESQUE

BRISTOL — Will Nottingham, 17, is interested in making movies some day, most likely documentaries. “Working with video is something that I’m planning on going to college for and doing as a career,” he said.

In the meantime, the New Haven resident and a few other area teens are getting a lot of on-the-job training from Northeast Addison Television (NEAT), channel 16. The Bristol-based public access channel recently received a Successful Community Grant from the Vermont Community Foundation to promote and expand its youth media program, which gives students like Nottingham a chance to see what the industry is like.

“We’ve got pretty active with young people here at the studio, but we’re always wanting to expand what they do,” said station director Mary Arbuckle, of the $8,040 grant that was announced in late May. “The grant will hopefully let us do that.”

Arbuckle said that the station has after-school labs, and video reporting done by Nottingham and other teens in a program similar to internships.

“A lot of it is just expanding on what we’ve already started,” she said. “I’d like to do more of that.”

Nottingham is one of the two most involved students at the station, Arbuckle said, but she is hoping the grant will enable NEAT to bring more teens into the production process.

“I’d love to have more kids know that we’ve got this wonderful community resource here,” she said.

In addition to video reporting, Arbuckle and Nottingham are also considering plans for “teen talk shows,” which the grant would help make possible. But those plans are still in the very early stages, they said.

The station offers internships and on-the-job training for interested teens, but NEAT officials also are exploring their options for working at the Hub teen center, or other local gathering places for young people. To that end, Arbuckle is working with Ena Backus, Hub director, and Gerrie Heuts of the Bristol Recreation Department, on a joint venture.

“We want more kids at the studio, but we also want to go where the kids are,” Arbuckle said.

As for Nottingham, he has learned a lot from NEAT about the industry in which he hopes to work.

“The work that I’ve done at the TV station has really helped me,” he said. “The TV station has been a great resource for me, because I’m interested in the field.”

The Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center has a video technical arts program. But Nottingham believes that his experience working at an actual cable TV station has been more valuable than that would have been, because he can work directly on material intended for broadcast and one-on-one with professionals like Arbuckle.

“It’s a great program (at the career center); the only thing is it’s kind of a self-learning program, and you’re also there with a lot of other kids,” Nottingham said.

Teens are not the only ones who can take advantage of the public access station, though. Arbuckle said that having a locally owned and operated television station is an important asset for Bristol and the surrounding towns. “It’s generating a lot of interest and excitement in the community that it’s our media and our TV station,” she explained.

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