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Sierra Madre Plugs In to Cable Television : Broadcasting: Despite a debut filled with bloopers, the program's sponsors and participants look forward to going on with the show.

February 06, 1991|E. PAGE BUCY | Bucy is a regular contributor to San Gabriel Valley View

Sierra Madre's foray into the world of live cable television seemed to have more to do with Murphy's Law than "Murphy Brown."

The focus lens on camera No. 2 got stuck, causing a five-minute delay of the show's 8 p.m. debut Jan. 30.

There were more volunteer crew members--about 12--than there were members of the studio audience.

The electronic graphics board, which generates names and titles for the show, wasn't working.

And a real wood fire, lit in an on-set fireplace to provide a homey touch, gave off some unexpected sound effects.

"That fire crackling in the background sounds like Ping-Pong," said Booth Hartley, a computer programmer at Caltech who was operating the electronic graphics board.

But hey, this is community television, not network news.

And with live TV, "Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, no matter what you do," noted Arcadia resident Jack Bryce, a retired public relations manager for Pacific Bell who acted as one of the show's three camera operators.

But what it lacked in technical expertise, the volunteer crew more than made up in enthusiasm.

Cords and cables were run from the Senior Citizen Center's Memorial Park House, where the show was being taped, to the mobile "camera control unit," or studio on wheels, which was parked around the side.

The show's producer-host, Charlotte Blackmon, even put makeup on guests, who included Sierra Madre City Councilman Clem Bartolai, former Mayor Lisa Fowler Farrell, resident Elizabeth Toth and volunteers from the city's Skilled Nursing Center Facility Auxiliary.

"Television is the ultimate team sport," said Kristine Komar, executive director of Pasadena Community Television, which provides the training and equipment for the Sierra Madre program. "Everyone depends on everybody else."

And despite "a disappointing equipment night," Komar was looking on the bright side. "Now we know what to fix. There's so many details just to get the show off the ground. Now we can have a little fun with it, maybe get creative and look for a sponsor."

Komar said the show is part of an 18-month, $24,000 pilot project in Pasadena, Sierra Madre and Arcadia, funded by CableVision, the cable operator for the cities.

The project includes cable broadcasts of Sierra Madre City Council meetings. It started in April, 1990, and ends in October, but "Sierra Madre Live" could live on if Sierra Madre officials decide to commit city funds to the program, Komar said.

"Sierra Madre Live" will be shown again on cable TV Channel 56 in Sierra Madre and Arcadia on Feb. 12 and 19 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The next live broadcast will take place Feb. 27.

Meanwhile, Blackmon said she is looking for volunteers to co-produce segments of the show, "Life in Sierra Madre," "Sierra Madre Kids," "Sierra Madre Newcomers" and "Sierra Madre Volunteers." People who are interested in participating should contact Komar, of Pasadena Community Television, at (818) 795-5556.

After the show wrapped up Jan. 30, the volunteer crew seemed a little wiser for the experience.

"We survived," Blackmon said. "I hope this show expands. I'd like to get more people involved. There's stories in these hills, and a lot of talented people in this town."

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