WHITMAN — Staff and volunteers from Whitman-Hanson Community Access TV, as they say in show biz, took its act on the road — or at least across town — for the taping of some of its regular in-studio programs Friday, Aug. 4.
It’s the first such effort, other than football games and of a Hanson Town Meeting, for which the nonprofit organization has used its new transmission truck. Two programs, “Bring It On,” with Bob Hayes and “Andrea’s Fit Yoga” with Andrea Mariani were taped at Hobart’s Pond off Colebrook Boulevard before lighting curtailed the evening’s work. They plan to return this Friday to tape an episode of “Painting with Danielle” with host Danielle Tierney.
Similar programs are being planned for locales in Hanson, said Access Operations Coordinator Kevin Tocci.
“Kevin came to me with the idea and it was going to be one show,” said WHCA Executive Director Eric Dresser, who was Hayes’ guest for his show. “I said, ‘Boy, that’s a lot of work for a 30-minute show. Why don’t we try to tack a couple others on?’”
Dresser said it was too early to discuss details for the Hanson programs, which are still in the early planning stages, as they line up locations and obtain any required permission or permits from governing boards.
“We’d like to visit each of the two towns over the summer,” Dresser said.
Hayes said he was enthusiastic about taking his show on location as he and Dresser chatted while technicians worked to set up cameras, wiring and work out which microphones would best link cameras with the remote truck.
“I think it’s great,” Hayes said. “I know that it’s innovative for WHCA, but it’s been done other years — We’ve done Whitman and we’ve done Hanson and it just shows you that Whitman-Hanson Community Access cable is really being proactive in going after town stuff. We’re showing off the assets of the towns of Whitman and Hanson.”
He also noted that the location choice for the Aug. 4 programs bring some focus back on an area of Whitman with a lot of community history.
“It’s a beautiful place,” Hayes said.
The location also made itself heard in the programs as the wind picked up and a flock of Canada geese honked loudly as they flew from the pond for the evening.
“The ducks must hear me talking as they’re honking in the background,” Hayes said as cameras began to roll for “Bring It On,” and he introduced his guest and location.
“We’re here to discuss with [Dresser] what Whitman Community Access does,” Hayes said toward the camera, noting Dresser was hired in January to succeed the late Steve Roy as the WHCA executive director. “I’d be remiss not to mention we are here in Whitman at Colebrook Boulevard, which used to be known back in the ’70s and ’80s, as a local parking spot, so to speak. … It’s a beautiful place for anybody to come and walk through.”
Dresser has been executive director since January, coming from Hingham where he also served in that capacity on the local community access station.
“I think video is as important now as it’s ever been— if not more,” Dresser said, replying to a question from Hayes about the future of community access television. “I went over my data plan this month on my cell phone because of videos that were autoplaying on Facebook, so if we can help create more professional versions of those videos, if we can get some well-thought-out video statements out there … that’s as important now as ever. I think places like WHCA have a big role in that, in informing and educating individuals in using that technology better and providing that for the folks that don’t carry that studio around in their pocket and want to do something better.”
Dresser also said WHCA is looking for people both to learn technical skills as volunteers and to bring new ideas for the company to pursue.
Tocci added that Hayes is a valuable volunteer himself, hosting several programs and serving as moderator for some Hanson political forums for WHCA.
“He’s someone who talks about the need to volunteer — and practices what he preaches,” Tocci said. “I can’t tell you how many hours a year he puts in, and if there’s an issue he wants to get it out there to the public.”
Tocci said Hayes is one of 40 volunteers WHCA has cultivated and they are seeking more under Dresser.
Hayes and Dresser both said the remote taping was a success.
“It went great — no issues,” Hayes said.
Dresser indicated that some technical aspects such as wireless equipment can always be an issue when one is taping in a new location, but that he was pleased with the results.
“There’s such a big difference between a studio shoot where you can control the environment, you control the lighting, a lot of times you can control the sound — the geese,” Tocci said. “But the beauty of this is we’re out in the community.”
He noted that passersby were interested and excited about the taping.
Next up for taping on location were Mariani and her assistant Emily Pollock for “Andrea’s Fit Yoga.” An instructor for more than 12 years, Mariani said that, while she also teaches pilates, yoga is better suited for instruction via television as there is less risk for injury if the home viewer does a move improperly.
She starts each yoga lesson with a stretching session to warm up.
“We get into a gentle flow and then we end with a savasana (corpse pose for rest), a meditation towards the end,” Mariani said. “I like to keep the material new and fresh so that you don’t get bored.”
Keeping the audience engaged is key both in her own studio and over the air.