NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – A new partnership between the Oliver Ashton Post 343 American Legion on Church Street in Rockdale and Northbridge Community Television is a win-win, according to Legion member Harry Berkowitz.
Berkowitz, who is also an NCTV board member and volunteer, said the local cable group recently rented space from the Legion and moved from cramped offices on Providence Road in Whitinsville to the Legion Hall.
With rental agreement in hand, the Legion, which had been having financial difficulties and had to close its banquet hall, qualified for a loan so the roof could be replaced and the building sided.
In turn, with a rental rate considerably lower than at the Providence Road location, NCTV spent $60,000 renovating the interior, Berkowitz said, turning the large function room into offices and a spacious studio where NCTV programs are recorded.
What was once the bar is now where Legion memorabilia are displayed and where members of the American Legion post and American Veterans post meet, Berkowitz said. The plan is to renovate that portion of the building next year.
Berkowitz hopes that with new, expanded quarters there will be increased interest in local cable access programming. He hosts several programs, but anyone in the community is invited to produce a show.
Eight-week courses in how to operate the equipment are held often by NCTV director William Tartaglia, Berkowitz said, and anything anyone finds of interest is fodder for a show.
Tartaglia said the next Public Access TV Production Class is in the planning stages and will begin soon. Anyone interested should call the station at 508-234-0200,
Also being developed is an NCTV website that should be operational soon at www.nctv11.org.
“We want more people to participate. We want more programming. We want more ideas,’’ Berkowitz said. “If you like doing something, now’s your chance.’’
"If anyone in town has a show idea that they would like to bring to their community, this is the soapbox to do it., Tartaglia said. "And iIf a resident does not want to make a commitment for a show and would just like a place to learn something new and contribute to the work we they are also welcome," he said.
Berkowitz's shows include “3 on 11,” during which he interviews state and local newsmakers, and “Days of Vinyl,” during which he and Rob Lee talk about and play the music of the '50s and '60s.
In January, “Days of Vinyl” featured The Everly Brothers. A show on Feb. 22 will feature the life and music of Buddy Holly.
Berkowitz also hopes the partnership will bring new life to the important function of the Legion. Its 88 members, down from a high of 325 members, conduct fundraisers to help veterans in need.
The money they raise through community activities, such as annual Halloween and Christmas parties, is used to purchase gift cards which are given to the local veterans agent for distribution.
For more information on NCTV, call the office at 508-234-0200.