Exploring local public broadcasting for NW Colo.

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By Bob Amick
Special to the Herald Times
RBC | How residents and visitors in Northwest Colorado would benefit from the creation of a locally based public broadcast network was the topic of a meeting held in Rangely on June 19. According to Joe Livingston, a longtime Rio Blanco county landowner, retired and an advocate, “Many rural low-population areas are at a disadvantage because of lack of access to, and production of, real time local information.”
Ron Granger, president of CNCC, noted that during the recent fires the CNCC campus in Rangely had 450 firefighters camped on their lawns and no way of letting the public know.
The topic drew significant interest at a meeting of individuals representing a consortium of public, private, government, volunteer and educational organizations. Participants explored an emerging trend in public broadcast: local access networks. Such a network would offer opportunities to residents and visitors in all parts of Northwest Colorado.
While colorful and unique local stories are occasionally featured on urban public and commercial broadcast networks, they rarely compare to the variety and color that locally produced public broadcasting can offer.
The innovative Rio Blanco County Broadband system is in the final stages of being ready to serve the public, providing fast, high quality, reliable access and pervasive distribution of local information.
Public Safety and Emergency Management services can benefit the public by providing emergency broadcast warnings in at-risk areas. They can offer timely information, appropriate evacuation and sheltering instructions.
Many universities, colleges and high schools have their own local broadcast production studios and networks. They can offer live student programming experience related to school and community activities and interests. An attractive benefit for such networks is the opportunity to recruit and train students of all ages. This appeals to those interested in pursuing, continuing education, a career or avocational interest in broadcast production. Internet production including technology and associated support fields offer expanding career opportunities. Local higher education and public schools can provide real-time “hands-on” experience for students. Northwest Colorado is home to many highly skilled individuals in a wide variety of fields. A local public broadcast network would provide the opportunity for them to share their skills with students of all ages. We can learn from each other.
Our rapidly changing economy requires all of us to become lifelong learners. Building a strong sustainable economy hinges on continued skill development and effective presentation of local products, services and unique attractions. The high quality products and services produced in Northwest Colorado can be widely marketed and sold to the rest of the world.
Tourism is the leading economic engine of Colorado and especially benefits rural communities which cater to those appealing interests. The visual delights of pristine national forests, wilderness areas, coupled with the lore of our unique old west heritage and history attracts domestic and international visitors. We can effectively tell our stories to a widely diversified audience.
Next steps will include a technical network system design and engineering study, along with seeking start-up funding from philanthropic foundations and recruiting interested participation by businesses, organizations, government and individuals. For more information, follow future articles in the Rio Blanco Herald Times. If you would like to participate in the development of a Northwest Colorado Public Broadcast Network contact Joe Livingston: jlivingston@wreawildblue.org.