LATONIA, Ky. -- Tucked away in an inauspicious building in Latonia is a dynamic video-production hub where Kenton County residents can get advanced training, borrow state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment and broadcast self-produced films to thousands of local viewers via public-access channels.
If the resources available through the Telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky (TBNK) sound too good to be true -- or even terribly unique -- longtime executive director Tim Broering wants to assure you, they are not.
“The services and training we provide are valuable, but we’re by no means the only group offering them,” Broering said.
He pointed out that groups across Greater Cincinnati, like CitiCable downtown and Media Central in neighboring Campbell County -- all funded through local cable companies -- share TBNK’s goal of raising public awareness and involvement.
Recently, Broering shared his thoughts on how telecommunications are evolving in Northern Kentucky, as well as ways residents can take advantage of the TBNK’s valuable free resources.
How are TBNK’s programs beneficial or appealing to younger people in the age of Snapchat and YouTube?
“The ability to stream video on the internet is a wonderful new thing, but it hasn’t replaced local broadcast or cable channels. If it had, then networks like Disney and ESPN would have shut down their broadcast by now and switched just to internet.
“Even locally, there are plenty of people who are interested in traditional film and broadcasting as a medium. Many of them come from local high schools and colleges and end up working here part time or producing a regular public-access show. For them, the difference is shooting amateur home video with a phone versus using a professional camera, editing system and studio. Then, once someone produces a film here, they can make copies of it and share it on those broader social-media platforms.”
The programming seems to be pretty democratic. Are there any guidelines for what people are allowed to broadcast and what they’re not?
“There are three ‘flavors’ of access channels as defined under federal law: public, educational and governmental. Our government channel features staff-produced programming that covers local government meetings as well as informational shows like ‘City Talk’ and ‘Kenton County Today,’ which educates the public about how city government functions.
“The educational access channel features programming from schools in Kenton County. It could cover student projects or school news, academic events, science fairs and the like. Right now, we’re working with the Kenton County Academies’ (of Innovation and Technology) media group to augment their program and get them used to some of the equipment we use here in the studio.
“And then the public-access side airs programming that can be political in nature. We have one show, for example, that’s called ‘Election Night’ and it specifically covers local elections. It can also be faith-based programming; we have a lot of churches locally that use our channels to broadcast their news and events.
“We provide a voice to the local community, to civic groups and local residents, who can choose to entertain or inform people about issues that are important to them. We have a number of people, for example, who have been putting programs on about the heroin problem recently.”
What other aspects of TBNK’s mission directly benefit the community?
“When I started here, it was clear to me talking to some of our community leaders who started this studio, that our broadcasters here are Cincinnati-based, and that river can be kind of like an ocean in that local channels would come over here to chase an ambulance or cover a scandal every once in awhile, but they really weren’t covering the everyday, positive things happening in Northern Kentucky. One of our biggest missions was to fill that gap with whatever resources we could bring to the table.
“We don’t tell people what types of programming to produce here, but as Northern Kentucky residents, they tend to feel passionate about what’s happening on this side of the river. An ongoing goal is to connect with community groups that might be having trouble getting the word out about their events or services. We can help make the community aware of those opportunities for free.”