Tom Anderson chuckled as he held up a stuffed, fake lion tail and honked a bicycle horn, props he sometimes uses during monthly meetings of the Eden Prairie Lions Club. Host Patti Wendling smiled and asked a few questions. The two appear on one of the inaugural episodes of the “Eden Prairie Lions Show,” a community access series on Comcast Channel 15. Sunday night, their competition was the 2023 Oscar telecast on ABC.
The Eden Prairie Lions use the studio, video gear and training provided by partners Southwest Community Television (SWTV) and Bloomington Community Access Television (BCAT).
SWTV schedules the programs seen on Channel 15 in Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins, Edina, and Richfield. It also provides residents of its five member cities with free on-location video production training with phones and regular cameras.
BCAT operates a TV studio set among the art studios, galleries and theaters of Artistry in the Bloomington Civic Plaza. Its high-tech, three-camera studio is available without charge to individuals and community groups like the EP Lions.
A few years back, Interfaith Circle produced “Becoming One: The Power of Our Stories,” an award-winning TV special filmed in Eden Prairie but anchored from the BCAT studio. The Richfield League of Women Voters, Republican Roundtable, Latino pop-culture groups, Teen Video Boot Campers and a few church pastors record programs at BCAT. Eden Prairie Local News showed up last September to record a discussion about community newspapers with retiring EPLN Board member Roy Terwilliger and StarTribune columnist Lori Sturdevant.
Coming up …
Wendling and Anderson keep their chat breezy and informative. They share stories about EP Lions meetings at Camp Eden Wood and fund-raising drives, including its annual Corn Feed, Schooner Days and Pancake Breakfast. The Lions help support nearly 30 local causes.
A second segment features EP Lions founding member Curt Connaughty who tells fellow Lion Richard A. Klatte that both the EP Lions and EP high school football were born in 1961. The football field, back then, he said, was only 80 yards long.
Klatte is one of the reasons the EP Lions have a show on Channel 15. During a phone interview with the video veteran and Lions Show producer/director Barbara Hanson, Klatte claimed that he’s been having fun with access television for 40 years. More recently, he’s been creative at CCX, the large community access center in Brooklyn Park. That’s where he edits out any “Eden Prairie Lions Show” bloopers and inserts titles, graphics and music. He performs similar service for the Brooklyn Park Lions.
Klatte also produces “Free Access TV News” at CCX. SWTV carries the series. It features fantasy football and rock tribute themes and light satire. They are lathered with playful and surreal video and sound effects. With measured diplomacy, Hanson describes her friend’s show as “a little off the wall.”
Block party neighborly TV
But the “Eden Prairie Lions Show” is block party neighborly.
During BCAT studio sessions, Hanson sits at a camera switcher console in the control room. She faces four video monitors, three of which are paired to the studio cameras and their console buttons. She signals the start of the third and final segment.
On camera, host Patti Wendling welcomes new guest Therese Johnson. The two converse with informed and spontaneous enthusiasm about KidSight USA, a vision screening and eye care program for youth.
Asked by EPLN about her beginner turns as a TV producer/director, Hanson complimented BCAT staff as “very patient, very wonderful” (in teaching the skills of camera switching and audio level settings).
The combined video smarts of the BCAT support team, SWTV and Richard Klatte, had opened the door to Channel 15 for the EP Lions. Hanson is now hoping to find an angel to get the series streamed by YouTube. Not every Lion is cabled-up.
SWTV: Beyond the selfie stick
Community TV Administrator Dan Carpenter manages SWTV’s access channel. The computer server that pumps out local programs to Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins, Richfield, and Edina cable subscribers hums along in the City of Edina’s communications department.
Carpenter also runs video production workshops for interested groups and residents of SWTV’s five-city service area. A hands-on primer on producing and editing phone videos is slated for Friday, March 24, at Edina City Hall at 2 p.m. For more information and to register, click here.
Last June, Carpenter ran a similar workshop for Eden Prairie Local News reporters. The two-hour class was held at the EP Community Center. The EPLN team (none are teenagers) appreciated the teacher-to-student method of learning technology that, not long ago, was science fiction.
The workshop might have been dubbed “Beyond The Selfie Stick.” It included practice with phone camera tripods, gimbals, light kits, wireless mics, editing apps and a story assignment.
Carpenter has taught similar workshops for Eden Prairie-based Shreya R. Dixit Memorial Foundation and the Edina branch of the Hennepin County Library.
“Edina Reads,” “From the Author’s House to Yours,” and Christy Zilka’s wellness programs “Little Moves Big Results” and “ABC at Home” were shot with cell phone cameras. None of them used selfie sticks. The programs can still be viewed on SWTV, Channel 15.
Phone video has also been used in public service announcements on Channel 15 for EPLN’s 2022 Voter Guide and its sports coverage. And, phone video occasionally enriches EPLN stories. Jim Bayer’s August 2022 piece on the Twin Cities Youth Rowing Club at Bryant Lake is a fine example.
The SWLT Line up
Of the 12 series produced within SWTV’s area, only three call Eden Prairie home: The “Eden Prairie Lions Show,” “Victory Lutheran Church Services,” and “Democratic Visions.”
But SWTV’s eclectic program lineup boasts shows from around the Twin Cities, including a series by and for gamers, a blues band, handy crafters and recipe testers. Minority communities, progressives, conservatives and business, cultural and political “influencers” are on the schedule. They are fueled mostly by the sweat equity of regular folks who figure that you should know what they’re up to. They range from simple talk shows to polished magazine series.
• Writer Jeff Strate produces Democratic Visions through SWTV and BCAT. He is a member of the Alliance for Community Media. Jeff is also a founding member of the EPLN Board.
• The Shreya R. Dixit Memorial Foundation mentioned in this article is chaired by Vijay Dixit. Vijay is also a founding member of the EPLN Board.
Connecting to local cable access services
Southwest Community Television (SWTV) website
Dan Carpenter, SWTV administrator
Bloomington Community Access Television (BCAT) website
Patrick Willson, BCAT production specialist
Eden Prairie Lions website
Eden Prairie Lions Show on CH 15 (Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Hopkins, Edina & Richfield)
8 p.m. Saturday
8:30 p.m. Sunday
7:30 p.m. Tuesday
8:30 p.m. Thursday
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