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Community access TV station ready for a 55-hour programming marathon


Highlighting the tribulations of Carroll Community Television's volunteer producers over the past three years, the local community access channel will present 55 hours of continuous programming starting at 5 p.m. Friday.

The project, which will run through midnight on Monday, features a variety of locally produced and previously aired CCTV programs, from history to magic acts.

But the highlight for many of CCTV's volunteers will be when the program goes live for the first time at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

"This is going to open whole new doors for us," said interim director Tom Crowl. "Now we're going to be able to have call-in programs and live events at the studio. It's a whole new area for our community television."

The studio will then broadcast live again during an open house at 3 that afternoon. Citizens can come down, operate the cameras, watch the volunteer producers roll the tapes over the air and ask questions.

"The first one, from 11 to noon, will be sort of 'Hi, come down and visit us,' " Mr. Crowl said. "Then, anyone who's here during the open house is welcome to go live with us."

Also, many producers will be running their own films, so viewers can call the station with comments as they watch the program.

"We are encouraging the public to call in and say, 'Hey, I really liked that' or 'That was awful,' " Mr. Crowl said, adding that often the producers are not in the studio to receive phone calls. "There's a good possibility that the producer will be in the station while the show is on the air. It's always nice to get feedback."

In fact, the third-anniversary celebration, as initially conceived by former CCTV coordinator Paul LeValley, was to be an around-the-clock telethon. But after Mr. LeValley left in June to take a job with Arlington (Va.) Community Television, the project was put on hold, Mr. Crowl said.

"We still had the time frame blocked out," he said. "So, I thought of having a marathon and Estelle Sanzenbacher, our program assistant, thought of the 55 hours since we're Channel 55 on Prestige Cablevision."

Volunteer producers rating their own shows selected programming as they suggested when they should be aired. About 51 of the 150 CCTV volunteers offered their shows for the program.

"One man wanted his pieces shown between midnight and 2 in the morning, so we granted that request," Mr. Crowl said. "We tried to fit them in where they could be."

However, since many of the shows are of odd time lengths ranging from five to 65 minutes, Mr. Crowl and Ms. Sanzenbacher had difficulty fitting them into regular time slots.

"Because we're a community access channel, we don't have to conform to the regular FCC time frame regulations," said Mr. Crowl. "But we wanted a fairly even schedule so people didn't have to tune it at 11:12 or something to watch a program."

So, for example, the duo tried to pair a 22-minute program with a five-minute short and throw in some public service announcements to fill a half-hour slot.

"It took us from 4 in the afternoon to 10 that evening to get the 55 hours scheduled," Mr. Crowl said. "It was not an easy job."

Yet regardless of the difficulty, it was a labor of love.

"When you become part of Channel 55, it's like a big family," said Mr. Crowl. "There's a lot of cooperation, which is unusual for an organization of volunteers this size.

"You would expect someone to have an ego importance problem, but nobody does."

Information: 848-8988 or 875-2358.

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