Dana’s Hot Take on ACM 2022 Chicago

Updated: Apr 10, 2024

Scenic view of Downtown Chicago for ACM 2022
Dana Healy, VP of Cablecast Community Media

Chicago stole a pizza my heart! After 2 years away from in-person conferences, the ACM National invited hundreds of attendees to the Windy City for education, networking, and not-so low-calorie dining. This was a milestone ACM for me, seeing long-time mentors, colleagues and friends for the first time in years.

There are some serious highlights beyond the fabulous Chicago skyline. Here’s my take on the 2022 ACM conference.

Emerging Leaders: Twice as Nice

The Alliance for Community Media had the distinct opportunity to honor two Emerging leaders for 2022! Emily Parent of MidPen Media Center and Andrea Santopietro of Watertown Cable Access. How serendipitous that both coasts were represented with these two rising stars. Santopietro gave a heartfelt speech recounting her work with the community and tenure in community media. Parent provided an insightful view of what is to come for community media.

What can we learn from this?
There is a changing of the guard in community media. Rising stars like Emily Parent and Andrea Santopietro are armed with new ideas and ready to make change in our community. It is the job of the PEG veterans to continue to support our incoming leadership. Congratulations to both of them!

Cablecast Unveils a New PEGMedia.org

Cablecast revealed a new user interface and redesign of PEGMedia.org, a content sharing site for PEG stations. Founded in 2007 by Bob Nichols, it quickly expanded to serve stations and content producers across the United States. Cablecast took over operation and development of PEGMedia.org in 2021.

Bob Smith presented the new PEG Media to a packed session, walking through the new user experience. Attendees could also stop by the Cablecast booth for a more extended demo. Bob also provided recommendations of quality content to download, which subsequently shot up to the number 1 downloaded files the next week!

What can we learn from this?
When Bob Smith provides a recommendation, people listen!

Reimaging Revenue: Impending Change

Jessica Smyser and Maritza Grooms of Cambridge Community Television spoke on challenges and opportunities for our sector to reimagine and implement new revenue structures. Challenges we face as a sector are outdated rules and fees that have not adapted, organizational infrastructure around fundraising, the balance between access to the community and competitive rates.

Smyser and Grooms outlined the 7 principles for building a nonprofit revenue model:
1. Start with revenue reliability and autonomy;
2. Not all revenues are feasible;
3. Understand the cost of new revenues;
4. Operating revenue is not investment capital;
5. Write down your revenue plan;
6. Communicate your revenue plan;
7. Implement, monitor, and adapt.

What can we learn from this?
Revenue structures can vary from station to station. Communicate with your peers to identify what is working for them, and find ways to contextualize it for your station and community. Also subscribe to the Cablecast PEG Experts Series to learn more about what leaders in community media are doing about earned income.

Cablecast Answers All the Questions

Cablecast had three tables on the ACM trade show floor. The sales team was executing demos of the Cablecast VIO, the simple video playback solution that controls your playback, VOD & OTT publishing, graphic announcements and schedule promotion.

Marketing savvy attendees were also interested in learning about the over to top apps and how Cablecast can get stations their own branded streaming app.

What can we learn from this?
PEG experts that are looking to maximize their workflows and efficiencies are looking to Cablecast to help automate playback and distribution. Forward-thinking marketers are also looking to expand their reach with branded apps.

Discord for an Active Community

Al Williams from Northampton Open Media, Gin Ferrara and Ross Ransom from Media Factory, outlined Crowdsourced Cinema, an annual community project where creators recreate famous feature films with their own creative flair. A tool to bring these makers together is Discord.

Discord is a private, non-commercial moderated online community that is available to anyone with internet access. It includes text chat, private messages, audio streaming, and roles that can control access on channels.

The trio walked through how to create channels, the types of channels, moderations and permissions, and how to use the tool to build community and have fun.

What can we learn from this?
There are endless ways to build community. Identifying tools like Discord is important for us to continue to reinvent how we connect and communicate with each other.

Fun With Data

Ray Tiley, Head of Engineering at Cablecast Community Media, used the data reporting built into REFLECT to understand who is watching community media Video on Demand. Logs provide timestamps, IP addresses, hosts, and user agents to derive the data. Using OpenSearch, he was able to capture the June viewing habits:

- 254 Stations
- 11,087 Unique Viewers
- 1.5 million live stream segments

His data came complete with heat maps that showed a strong concentration of viewers in the northeast. The data also showed that Smart TVs are the fastest growing streaming segment.

Another additional takeaway was people watch live TV more than video on demand, and then stumble upon VOD after consuming the live program. A Cablecast solution like REFLECT that  caches Cablecast Live & VOD content in the cloud to meet bandwidth demands, can ensure your viewers never have buffering issues.

What can we learn from this?
Use data to make decisions about the type of programming you are creating. Data will show you what content is resonating with your audience.

Rocking with Buddy Guy: Cablecast & Municipal Captioning After Party

After 2 years, the ACM gang got back together and headed over to Buddy Guy’s Legends, the premiere blues club in Chicago, and home to 7 time Grammy award winning artist, Buddy Guy. Hosted by Cablecast and Municipal Captioning, event attendees had a private room above the club to chat and network. The party was rousing, filled with back-slapping, jokes, and meaningful conversations. Karaoke followed for the after-after party, which is a must-have for our PEG colleagues.

What can we learn from this?
Do we have to learn something all the time? Can’t we just have a little fun?

Hometown Awards: Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner!

Cablecast Community Media sponsored the 2022 Hometown Awards. The hometown awards is a fun, lively evening where winners of the Hometown Film Festival are praised and presented with their award. The entries were pre-produced into a video, which curtailed the evening to a neat one hour and ten minutes. Bravo!

The event was MC'd by yours truly, a really fun experience for me. My nervous energy quickly melted away when I felt how positive the crowd was.

Some points of note for the evening, All the Overall Excellence in Combined PEG were from Massachusetts, including Cablecast friends WAVA-TV and Holbrook Community Access & Media. Northampton Open Media also took home 14 awards in the student divisions!

What can we learn from this?
The volunteers received almost 1,000 entries this year. Each entry was evaluated on several factors, some multiple times. This event is labor intensive, consider volunteering to judge entries next year!

Whova App: A Tool Review

The conference was powered by the Whova App, an event management app that helps organizers manage logistics and save time. The app housed photos, a chat function, as well as the schedule. Even after the event ended, people continued to login and connect with peers.

What can we learn from this?
I hope the ACM continues to use the Whova App. It was easy to use, accessible, and made it easy to connect with other attendees.  

The conference typically bounces the west coast, to the midwest, and to the east. Next year, the ACM National conference will be in Brooklyn, New York! Cablecast will be excited to see you all there again!

What was your best ACM conference memory this year? Let me know!

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