While coverage of the towns’ and school districts’ government business is the bread and butter of local cable access channels, it is perhaps the original programming that gives it that local flavor.
Joining the Whitman-Hanson Cable Access (WHCA) TV programming this spring has been “Outdoor Adventures,” with staff members taking the viewer along with them on day trips and vacations during the COVID pandemic.
It caught on from there.
“What we tried to do when COVID came about was create a show brand that could allow people to do a one-off about,” WHCA Director Eric Dresser said, explaining the departure from the usual fully-formed show concepts people generally come in to produce from start to finish. “We did it with the staff first to show people what was possible and we are still looking for content to be submitted wherever they might be going.”
Going to take a trip to the Boston Harbor islands, Cape Cod Canal or the dunes of Provincetown? Take some video of your trip, he said.
“It’s an opportunity for people to put together a travelogue and do as much or as little as they want. Episodes do not have to be full half-hours if people would rather to something shorter, and the WHCA staff can help with the editing. Another show brand, “Geekology,” offers the opportunity to explore a hobby.
Staff member Ryan Tully came up with “Outdoor Adventures” for which Dresser encouraged the staff to go out and film their own outings.
“You could go out wearing your mask, or you could go out by yourself and we could do that even through the pandemic,” he said.
The eighth episode of “Outdoor Adventures,” airing last month and filmed last fall, reviewed the popular Burrage Pond Wildlife Management Area in Hanson. Previous programs offered a look at one-wheeling in Maine and Mountain biking in area parks.
Humor is infused with Ryan Tully’s hiking narration, which included a correction as the episode begins with a view of his van driving along the road between the bogs — accompanied by a record-scratch sound and an advisory that people are not supposed to do that. The Elm Street gate was down that day.
Kind of makes one wonder how the camera got there.
“There were some trucks [where workers were] doing some line work on the electrical wires that day and I drove right in and was told by someone from Hanson Conservation when I was leaving for the day, that I shouldn’t have parked there,” he narrated. “This will be the first of a few blunders during this trip.”
Park on the street is the first lesson here.
He also neglected to wear blaze orange during what was bow hunting season. Ooops. He also forgot there are two Burrage ponds as he paused to gain his bearings, during which periods he narrated into his hand-held camera.
He certainly walked a looong way that day.
The 2,000-acre former cranberry bog property spans both Hanson and Halifax. Because of those origins, he also frequently found paths impassable in the wetter autumn conditions due to water or mud on trails, which are unmarked.
He grades the parks after hiking them, but in this instance decided to hold off until he gets feedback from frequent visitors on what he could do better. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tully did another hiking episode at Pond Meadow Park in Weymouth/Braintree, spinning off his own series of Park Review shows.
“Today turned into quite an adventure,” he said. “If you plan to come here, do a little more planning. Don’t just jump into it the way I did.”
Dresser also produced one on one-wheeling – a kind of electric skateboard with one over-sized wheel – on the trails of Old Orchard Beach Forest. Another staffer filmed mountain bike enthusiast Bill Boles on his trail-riding.
“I think that things have semi-permanently changed from COVID and we’re just kind of trying to lean into those new styles,” Dresser said. “People are walking around with a video studio in their pocket with their cell phones, and we’re trying to lean into that, as well.”
To find more information about making an “Outdoor Adventure” show or another show concept at 781-447-4175 or whca.tv.
The program joins popular favorites like Richard Rosen’s “Buzz Around Bees” – The Season 4 debut focused on a new batch of bees and installing them in the hive — along with Paul Sullivan’s show “The Famer’s Daugther.”
“Somebody said to me, ‘develop some programs,’” Sullivan joked. “I had a couple of ideas, but most of the things I’ve done have taken me ages before they go on the air just because I’ve got a certain vision for it and I keep slugging at it to get that working the way I want it to work.”
For something that someone just wants to get done, it’s a lot simpler, and information on the website can help, he said.