Richard Turner has more than four decades of experience in television and media, experience, which informs his role as the executive director of the Community Media Center of Carroll County.
Turner has also been asked to give the keynote address at the annual Carroll County NAACP Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast on Saturday, Jan. 25.
The Times recently caught up with Turner to learn more about his career in media, his tenure at the Community Media Center and the upcoming breakfast.
Q: We’ve never really had a chance to speak on your role at the Community Media Center. You’re the executive director — tell us a bit about how you came to take on that role, what you’ve been doing since then and what people should know about the Community Media Center if they are not familiar.
A: I’ve had experience of about 40-plus years of working in community media, starting with the development of a channel at a community college in California, which is where I got my first experience with formal training and education in television production engineering and broadcast journalism.
From there, I took on various jobs working in the broadcast industry, working in news and private production, and then found my way into creating community media. Working in San Diego, Hawaii and back here in Maryland as well.
Q: When was it that you came on board as the executive director here at the Community Media Center?
A: It’s been three years now. That was in December 2016.
Q: For people that may not be aware, what does the Community Media Center do in Carroll County?
A: The Community Media Center is a great resource. We are focused on making sure Carroll County has the opportunity to create digital media. We cover various events going on in the community to make sure all of that content can be made available on cable, on Comcast channels, 19, 23 and now on HD 1086, so we’ve launched an HD channel recently. That is a joint venture with the schools, Carroll Community College and county government, as well as the programming that we provide coming from the municipalities — we cover town council meetings and various community events.
We are always looking for volunteers who can help us to cover those events — we have training classes to learn how to use video cameras, video editing, in order to complete their productions. It’s a great opportunity for anyone who is interested in media to come in and learn more and create their own programming, as well as help us create programming for the community.
Q: Is the NAACP Martin Luther King Day Breakfast an event your team has covered before?
A: Yes. I don’t know how many years in a row, but every year that I’ve been here I know we’ve been doing it. They covered some of the breakfast as well as the Freedom Fund Banquet. That’s one of the series of events that we typically cover in a year. I think the longest-running one is the memorial day parade that occurs in Westminster, so we have quite a history in terms of the number of events that are going on there.
In addition, we have an oral history project in which recently we have been focusing on the veterans experience, collecting oral histories of veterans from Carroll County, of various wars and conflicts, and archiving those so that their history can be preserved.
Q: You’ve been tasked giving the keynote address at the breakfast this year. How did it feel to be asked to take on that role?
A: Absolutely very honored to be have been asked to take on the role. This is an organization that is close to the heart in that I am the grandson of the first administrative secretary of the national NAACP. My grandfather was Frank Turner, who worked for W.E.B. Dubois in the creation of “The Crisis,” initially, and then the founding of the national office in New York City.
Q: We certainly don’t want to steal your thunder, but can you tell us a bit about what you plan to talk about, if just some of the themes you’d like to touch on?
A: I’ll be talking about my work in media and the importance of local voices in media. And how over time, while there have been new technologies that come to address the way in which we consume media, it’s important to have a place that makes sure all of the voices are represented in our mass media. That is my particular interest. The diversity of voices is one that is critical, so that we hear all different points of view and opinion from our community. So that we hear all of the sides of the issues we confront, and by having a more diverse and more robust debate, we’re likely to get to better solutions as a result.
Q: We’re in a period of transition when it comes to media, both in terms of both print and television. The ability to produce digital media is being democratized, and there is also a huge amount of it.
Q: Given that, how do you handle the challenge of representation of different voices in the media, in local media? In a media center that is coming out of a television production model into the digital future, how do you figure out a way for people to drink from a fire hose without being drowned?
A: Technology is definitely disruptive. New technology gives individuals ways of doing things that we just didn’t have access to previously. But that doesn’t necessarily raise the quality or authenticity in the case of media, of those voices. So in the case of social media, if people are just reposting something from somewhere else, how do we know where that content came from? How do we know it is actually a representation of the interests in Carroll County? So our goal is to try and help develop, inform, educate individuals around a sense of media literacy, so that they can create content in a way that is more authentic and genuine about the experience in Carroll County.
A: I guess I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the fact that we’re doing local sports now. One of the things I saw when starting here was the opportunity for new programming, and sports was one of those the organization really hadn’t touched on or dove too deeply into. So we went about developing ways in which we could cover sports and start that process in the last school year, and in this school year, for high school sports. It’s been very rewarding to get an increased amount of coverage of what’s going on in terms of high school sports, and we’ve also expanded into covering the community college’s Carroll Lynx launch as well. It was very exciting to see us use new technology to capture the games, clip them into highlights, and then make year and season wrap-up programs that really celebrate what we do in terms of sports here in the county.
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What: Carroll County NAACP Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast