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story.lead_photo.caption Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista It takes about 10 volunteers to film a segment of Bella Vista and Beyond, including four in the control room.

Every Wednesday morning, volunteers gather in the basement of the Highlands Crossing building and produce television programs. After more than 35 years, the local Bella Vista Community Television Station is going strong.

It takes about 10 people to produce a television show like "Bella Vista and Beyond." There are two hosts, three camera operators, an announcer and four people in the control room controlling graphics, sound and camera feeds, station manager Steve Little said.

But when necessary, people double up, Lon LeBlanc said. On a recent Wednesday morning, animal shelter director Deidre Knight -- scheduled to be a guest -- was sick, so host Linda Lloyd went by the shelter and picked up an adoptable dog. Lucas, a six-month-old parvo survivor, was given the guest chair. After Lloyd told her audience about Lucas and the shelter, camera operator JB Portillo hurried over to take custody of Lucas while announcer LeBlanc took the camera. The audience at home had no idea about the impromptu switch.

Meanwhile, the control room was run by Little, with the assistance of the group's youngest member, 14-year-old Aidan McAuley. Two other volunteers controlled the soundboard and the graphics.

After the animal shelter segment, Carolyn Grieve was on hand to talk about traveling with the Arvest Adventure program. Then Channing Barker, one of two county communications directors in the state, was the final guest.

As "Bella Vista and Beyond" finished, the next show's hosts and guests filtered in and, within a few minutes, the desk and backdrop were gone, replaced by comfortable chairs and "Bella Vista Gardening" was underway. The same crew returned to their places.

There are about 25 volunteers who work at the station. Some of them, like Little, have a background in broadcasting, but others are brand new to the industry and trained on the spot.

"The volunteers get jobs right away," LeBlanc said. He spent 20 years in radio, but television is new to him. He's seen people running cameras within a few minutes of entering the studio. New volunteers are not given busy work, he said, and they appreciate that.

The station can always use people with computer skills, he said. They need people to keep track of names and phone numbers, as well as people to edit tapes. While most of the volunteers are retired, there are few who work during the day and come in at night to edit or burn DVDs.

Not all shows are shot in the studio. Some, like "Mayor's Rap" with Bella Vista mayor Peter Christie, are shot on location.

Volunteers will also travel to performances outside of Bella Vista. When the tape is edited and burned to a DVD, the discs go on sale. Pieces of the performances may also be used in one of the regular shows, like when the Bella Vista Big Band appeared, via DVD, on "Bella Vista and Beyond." Viewers can buy the DVDs for $10.

Each month, the volunteers film both the POA meetings and city council meetings. Like many of their productions, the meetings are uploaded to YouTube so they can been seen at any time. They are also part of the regular lineup on Channel 222 (Cox) and U-Verse Channel 99.

As a nonprofit, Bella Vista Community Television does not sell or show any advertising. Its funding is strictly by donations and its manpower is completely voluntary. It does thank donors on the air, including large donors like the Walton Family Foundation and smaller donors like Just Petaling, the shop that provides flowers for the set each week.

Some people support the station by buying a membership.

Volunteers are working towards more recognition for the station by using social media. They have a Facebook page,, a twitter account and LeBlanc writes a blog,

LeBlanc is looking forward to the day when there are enough volunteers to send a second group out into the field. Now, if more than one event is happening at the same time, they have to choose which one to cover.

The POA has been helpful, in spite of the fact it's a separate nonprofit. The two groups share some equipment because the POA is expanding its audio and visual department, Little said.

"It's fun. We have a lot of laughter," LeBlanc said.

"Once broadcasting gets in your blood, you can't get out of it," Little said.

General News on 04/11/2018

Print Headline: Community Television Station going strong

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