TELLURIDE – Nearly a year after Telluride’s stalwart community access television station re-branded itself as the hipper, funkier Telluride TV, the channel continued its evolution earlier this week with the simultaneous hiring of a new executive director and the launch of its first, new, locally-produced programming since last ski season.
Former Mountain Sprouts Preschool Administrator and Board President, Katie Karow, a seasoned sales and marketing executive and Telluride local since 2007, replaced Interim Executive Director Susan Lilly at the administrative helm of the non-profit television station formerly known as TCTV 12, effective Dec. 1.
“Katie has the enthusiasm, energy and know-how to take the reigns at Telluride TV, we were very impressed with her level of confidence,” said Board President Mary Jo Guarrero, indicating that Karow was chosen from among a large and talented pool of applicants for the position.
“She’s going to be the utility player for a while here,” Guarrero continued. “I know it’s a really good decision for the organization.”
The Telluride Town Council’s recent move to reinstate in its 2011 budget approximately $37,000 in funding to the station, derived from the town’s franchise agreement with Time Warner Cable, made the part-time employment of Karow possible.
While that franchise funding had traditionally been passed through to the station during its more than two decades of operation, in its 2010 budget the previous council, responding to recessionary revenue shortfalls, elected to allocate it elsewhere after finding the station incompliant with the terms of their mutual operating agreement.
“It was an exception based upon contractual issues and administrative issues that seem to have been addressed; we’re getting back to what was the status for some time and I’m glad to see that,” said Town Manager Greg Clifton of the reinstated funding. “I think they provide an important community service.”
“I am thrilled at the opportunity to further Telluride TV’s reach to help bring awareness to local businesses and non-profits, to expand educational programs for children and adults, and to enhance programming to provide an entertaining media source,” Karow said in a press release from the station.
“One of my main goals is to use our multi-media platforms to encourage locals, second homeowners and visitors to feel more connected with our unique community.”
Clifton said he recently met Karow for the first time and found her “very energized and affable.”
“I think she will do good things for the organization,” he said.
“It’s truly been a time of transition for the organization,” said Guarrero, of the past, and largely unfunded year during which it was dependent upon the efforts of its volunteer boardmembers to remain afloat.
But during that time, “the board recognized an opportunity to take this medium to a new level through the transition of reorganizing, we were able to gain support from the Town of Telluride and the Town of Mountain Village and we’re able to strategize and plan for the future,” said Guarrero.
Part of that planning includes a concerted and immediate effort to diversify its revenue stream to be less heavily reliant on government funding.
“We’re going to be more proactive with donations from the private sector, underwriting with local businesses, and extending our grant reach,” said Lilly.
“I really do believe that our success will be largely dependant on continued passion and commitment from the board, our community, and diversifying our revenue stream,” she continued.
Telluride TV is also working to network with and partner with other community organizations and non-profits, and is hoping to launch a film and television production program for adult students in the not-too-distant future that will supplement its existing work with school-age students, according to Guarrero.
“I would also like us to be able to have a call for local producers and filmmakers to provide them with a medium to show their work,” she said.
On that note the station debuted the first installment of its new winter program “Telluride Time,” on Wednesday, hosted by actor, comedian, and Telluride personality Ashley Boling.
The 30-minute program features events, topics and people of interest to the Telluride region and its visitors – all with an attractive and funky edge. A truly local endeavor, it is co-produced by Telluride TV and Suzan Beraza, the award winning filmmaker of the internationally acclaimed documentary Bag It and her Reel Thing Productions.
Beraza is producing, shooting and editing the program joined by local award-winning filmmaker and motion graphics designer Suz Remec. Remec is producing the graphic animation and will also shoot and edit segments of the program.
Currently underwritten by Two Skirts and Elinoff & Co., “Telluride Time” can be seen on Cable Channel 12, seven days a week, 7-10 a.m., 12:30-1:30 p.m. and 3-5 p.m. throughout the ski season.
“It’s kind of like watching a lively magazine about Telluride and Mountain Village,” said Lilly. “It’s going to be a fun program that’s going to attract locals, visitors and second homeowners of all ages.”
The station is also in discussions with Time Warner to fit Rebekah Hall with live streaming capacity in order to air Telluride Town Council and other government meetings in real time on its revamped, interactive website at www.telluridetv.org.
“We’re hoping to not only provide live streaming in future, but to enable others to upload their videos, as well as archived programming that has been instrumental in showing the history of Telluride over time,” said Guarrero.
“It’s an opportunity to use the medium of television and the Internet to spread the word about how amazing our community is.”
Karen James is a Telluride TV board member.