Rosemary Bradley, our Daytonian of the Week, calls Dayton’s public access television station, DATV, the “original form of social media.”
The station recently marked 40 years of local storytelling, and Bradley is passionate about providing a forum for the community.
We recently caught up with Bradley to learn more about her role with DATV.
When did you become the executive director at DATV and what did you do before?
I became DATV’s executive director in March 2018. Prior to that, I served as development director with Second Harvest Food Bank in Springfield for three years. I also served a year as development director with Discover Classical, Dayton’s own classical music public radio station, and prior to that, as the Director of Grants and Information Management with the YWCA Dayton for fifteen years. Before that I was a stay-at-home mom who moved to the Dayton area from New Hampshire.
What were you surprised to learn about public access television when you joined DATV?
I knew about public access television and DATV before I joined the station, of course, but what surprised me and what I most resonate with is how deeply embedded in First Amendment Rights they are. Public Access Television, at its core, is about regular people having a forum and a vehicle to initiate dialogue with their neighbors and to talk about hard issues, to inform and be informed about their local government and to hold their elected officials accountable to the people they serve, and to challenge all of us as citizens in a democracy to participate in that democracy and through our collective efforts build and own our communities.
Why is public access television important for the community?
Public Access Television is LOCAL. Before it is anything else, it is about you and me and the place we call home. It’s about having a safe place to tell stories that showcase what’s good and real and dynamic in our community as well as revealing what we need to do to make things better. There’s no advertising in Public Access Television, there’s no conglomerate entity making decision about what gets broadcast and what gets suppressed. As ownership of mass media has become increasingly concentrated, two problems have emerged. The first is a further narrowing and homogenization of the range of opinions that are disseminated by the mass media; the second, which follows from the first, is decreasing coverage of local issues.
Concentrated ownership has also meant greater media commercialization. Commercial mass media is in business to make money, and therefore must maximize the number of consumers exposed to sponsors’ advertisements. In the search for the largest audience, media tend to emphasize general interest, lightweight or sensationalistic fare to the exclusion of meaningful local issues. In their quest for the largest audience, most media tend to omit or marginalize the people who are not in the broadest majority audience. Media consumers are rarely given the opportunity to hear voices not sponsored or influenced by corporate ownership.
The television medium is predominantly privately owned and exclusive, with the general public most often relegated to the role of passive receivers. For democracy to function effectively, people need to be actively engaged with civic matters, and to do so effectively and constructively, we need to be aware of the diversity of opinions in their communities. We need to hear alternatives to the concentrated, commercial messages that dominate the mass media. But even more importantly, we need to become active citizens instead of passive receivers of others’ messages. Public Access Television provides the means for people to create, distribute and receive their own local, noncommercial messages via the medium of television.
What should folks know about DATV?
DATV has been broadcasting since 1978. That’s over 40 years of local story-telling. 40+ years of teaching people how to use the equipment, create content, and present a finished product that’s polished and professional. Membership at DATV is $50 annually (free for anyone under 20 years old!) and for that bargain price, people have access to video cameras, portable sound systems, lighting equipment, workshops that teach camera techniques, field operations, animation, video editing, podcasting and more. Members also have access to our 40’ x 50’ television studio with green screen and control room complete with tricaster, teleprompter, and live text editor. We foster a community of independent producers who are creative and passionate about the stories they tell and are eager to involve other people in sharing theirs.
What makes you proud of the role DATV has in Dayton?
DATV is local! The visual media produced by home-grown independent artisans describes “the 937” like no other medium can. We are open to anyone with a story to tell. We are Dayton’s channel — the original form of social media — we are an electronic soapbox, a conduit for religious and spiritual programming, a showcase for music, comedy, and drama, a forum for the exchange of ideas and cultures. We are Greater Dayton — we reflect all its diversity, contrasting cultures, unifying aspects. We are messy and structured, candid and circumspect, irreverent and respectful. We are all these because Dayton is all that — we are what you make us.
There’s an eclectic mix of programming on DATV. How does this impact the community?
DATV is ubiquitous. I have been incredulous this past year when people tell me they’ve never heard of DATV. If you have ever watched a Dayton City or Montgomery County Commission Meeting, you’ve watched DATV. If you’ve ever attended the Celtic Festival, enjoyed exotic edibles at A World Affair, watched the fireworks at Lights in Flight Fest, paid your respects during the Police Memorial, gone to the Vectren Dayton Air Show or waited for Santa to close out the Children’s Parade at Thanksgiving — you’ve seen DATV.
If you follow Dayton high school sports or subscribe to the Gem City podcast, you’ve heard DATV. If you’ve filed a grievance with the Ombudsman’s Office or looked for legal information from the Dayton Bar Association or enjoyed the longest running LGBTQ program in the country, you’ve watched DATV. If you just discovered that Dayton is the Funk Capital of the World, that Indie Bands, Stand-Up Comics, and Micro Breweries are a thing in Dayton, you’ve You Tubed DATV.
For 40 years, DATV staff and volunteer independent producers have been weaving the digital fabric binding Greater Dayton into this crazy quilt that we call home.
If you were to produce your own show, what would it be about and why?
I’d like to bring back “The Writer’s Nook,” a program originally produced by Jim Burns and last hosted in 2016 by Trudy Krisher. The Greater Dayton area is home to a literal (pun intended!) boatload of talented writers, screenwriters, playwrights, and poets and I’d love to be able to interview them and have them showcase their work. I’m equally interested in producing shows that features Dayton’s Maker Culture and Arts scene as well as expanding our coverage of Dayton’s local music-makers. Honestly, I could go on and on — the talent and creativity in this area is astounding and we need to encourage and support that as much as we can.
What are your top 3 favorite things about Dayton?
1. Local Music Scene
2. Local Craft Breweries
3. Local Maker Culture
If you could have a super power what would it be and why?
Time Travel because I’m a non-linear wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey kind of gal!