A Brief History of the Wayland Channels
Updated October 2016
In 1984 when cable television was in its infancy, the Federal Communications Commission established policies governing cable companies. Among other requirements, the FCC mandated that in exchange for doing business within towns and constructing their network of cables over, under, and beside town roads, the cable companies must give back to the towns. They must provide the towns with a facility or studio for community access programming on public, educational, and governmental access channels (PEG access), must provide for training of local volunteers for that facility, and must provide personnel to manage it.
The Wayland Board of Selectmen appointed a Cable Advisory Committee headed by Russ Ashton to negotiate an agreement between the Town and Continental Cablevision, the company seeking a license to do business in the Town of Wayland. After many meetings, a fifteen-year agreement was signed in September 1985, and thus Cable TV came to Wayland and our local access station was born.
In the early years there was a great deal of contact between officials of Continental Cablevision and volunteers at the 20-odd studios within the network. There was even an annual “Conti Awards” banquet, hosted by Continental, at which, in Tony Awards fashion, stations and volunteers were given awards for best sports coverage (Russ Ashton won top honors one year), best interview show, etc. Continental officials attended these events, and there was much camaraderie and good feeling all around.
However, over the years, this goal of mutual benefit in a noble joint venture eroded. The heaping bowl of shrimp was reduced to potato chips, and then the “Contis” were gone forever. Continental was purchased by MediaOne, which sold the corporation, lock, stock, and local access stations, to AT&T Broadband. The profit motive of the media giants swamped whatever community generosity was left, and then Comcast, the new owner as of 2000, phased out its oversight of local access stations.
In 1998, the Wayland Board of Selectmen, knowing the agreement with the cable corporation (AT&T Broadband at the time) would expire in the year 2000, appointed a new Cable Advisory Committee whose function was to negotiate a renewal license on behalf of the Town. In September 2000 a ten-year license was signed.
As part of that agreement, the Board of Selectmen designated an independent, non-profit Access Corporation to assume responsibility for “the provision of public, educational, and governmental (“PEG”) programming, facilities and equipment.” In other words, AT&T Broadband turned the public access station over to a local Wayland corporation that assumed those responsibilities on behalf of the Town of Wayland. The Town, however, was to provide the studio space. AT&T Broadband (and subsequently Comcast) would pay the Town an annual amount for the operation of the station.
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The name of the new corporation became the Wayland Community Access and Media, Inc., or WayCAM. The original Board of Directors consisted of three persons with one each appointed by the Board of Selectmen, the Superintendent of Schools, and the Cable Advisory Committee. Thus, WayCAM, headed at that time by Arnold Kahn became the administrator of the budget and the sole overseer of activities of the Wayland Public Access Station. WayCAM has its own set of by-laws and holds periodic meetings of its Board, whose job it is to oversee the corporation’s finances and operations, and monitor its policies and procedures.
On January 22, 2008, WayCAM evolved again. The Town, led by the Cable Advisory Committee, negotiated a new cable contract with Verizon, and on July 14, 2008, WayCAM began broadcasting the Verizon signal on Channel 37 (as well as Comcast Channel 9). A new and exciting chapter in WayCAM history had begun. Soon after, WayCAM began broadcasting on Verizon channels 38 and 39 as well.
In addition, in 2008 WayCAM and the Town signed their first Memo of Understanding, a designation of duties, responsibilities, and benefits for the Town and for WayCAM.
2009 marked another milestone as we introduced a new logo, designed by a Wayland High School student. The new logo captured our evolution onto a new communications platform, the Web, symbolized by our new website, www.waycam.tv. And along with that, WayCAM introduced WayCAM-On-Demand in June 2009, giving cable subscribers and all residents access to our programs, whenever they want to view them.
In 2010 WayCAM entered the fields, literally the sports fields of Wayland, with live TV coverage of WHS games. Two enterprising seniors, participants in the WayCAM educational program at WHS, spearheaded the initiative, enabled by our purchase of portable, wireless-enabled studio equipment. Also in 2010, the Town signed a renewal license with Comcast (in addition to the 2008 Verizon license), increasing our capital and operating revenues and paving the way for increased revenues for improving operations for the next 10+ years. The new license also included an increase of two Comcast channels.
In November 2010 by unanimous vote, Special Town Meeting approved the lease of the renovated space that was until then the Weight Room at Wayland High School. This was followed by a year of extraordinary activity that included: another vote at Town Meeting in April 2011 to transfer the Weight Room to the Town in order to lease it; winning an RFP to operate the station in the new facility; securing commitment from Middlesex Savings Bank to help finance the construction; negotiating a lease; hiring an architect to design the new station, and contracting with the builders. After an exciting four months of construction and outfitting of new equipment, move-in was accomplished on schedule December 24, 2011, just prior to the demolition of the existing station in January 2012. By summer 2012 WayCAM was fully installed in our new, state-of-the-art Community Media Center adjacent to the Field House at Wayland High School. Our new logo attests to our expanding role in our community. In 2013 a new sign was hung on the exterior Studio wall celebrating our new home, and a newly designed Web site became a valuable tool to showcase WayCAM’s programs, Video-On-Demand, and live streaming of programs like sports events and graduation ceremonies. In 2013 WayCAM provided TV and documentary coverage of Wayland’s 375th Anniversary events.
WayCAM has two full-time paid staff persons, Jim Mullane and Mark Foreman, Production Coordinator, hired in September 2012. Mark is a graduate of WHS and UMass/Amherst, and a WayCAM alumnus. In 2014 due to increased demand for program coverage, Robbie Bullard joined WayCAM as a part-time
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production assistant, ensuring smooth and timely recordings for the often multiple, simultaneous WayCAM shoots in town Building and around town.
Jim Mullane, promoted to Executive Director in January, 2011, has served WayCAM in his leadership capacity since 1998. Jim has been an energetic and creative champion of education for young people, with programs for students of all ages, and a strong spokesperson for WayCAM as liaison to the Wayland community. Programming accomplishments, for Community (Public) productions, Educational productions and Government meeting coverage are documented annually in his annual report to the Board of Directors. Jim and Mark are assisted by a band of volunteers, both adult residents and students, who perform activities, including planning and producing programs, videotaping town meetings and other events. Over the years many adult and student volunteers have been trained at the Wayland studio and have given generously of their time and talents to bring to Wayland viewers such programs as live broadcast of football games, meetings of Wayland town committees, taped exercise classes for seniors, interviews with police and fire department officials, school and community music events, and high school graduations.
The educational programs provided by the Wayland Public Access Station have been a valuable if understated service to the Town of Wayland and its young people. In recognition of this role and the
contribution WayCAM makes, the Board of Directors began a scholarship program in 2007. Each year we
have provided a cash award to at least one graduating WHS senior who is entering the field of media communications.
2014 marked a milestone for the educational programs when a student-produced film received a national award. The film was produced in the Script-to-Screen high school class, a collaborative effort between WayCAM and Wayland High School co-taught by WayCAM’s Executive Director Jim Mullane. It was the first time a WHS film production won a national Telly award. Student Caitlin O’Keeffe wrote and directed Supply and Demand, which was awarded 2nd place (Bronze) for Best Picture from over 14,000 entries in the prestigious 35th Annual Telly Awards.
In 2014 WayCAM added live streaming from the WHS press box to its studio, and began a three-year transition to high definition cameras and equipment.
All of WayCAM’s programs give unique technical training to our young people not only in television production but also in the areas of graphic arts, advertising, electronics, and performing arts. Participation helps build student self-esteem and confidence in their creative and technical skills. Overall, WayCAM provides opportunities that foster creativity and enrich the school experience for countless students.
In 2015 WayCAM’s efforts were recognized in numerous ways. Two student films produced in the Script-to-Screen class received international awards from AIVA for “Best Picture.” AIVA received more than 6,000 entrants. Parker Bryant and Jason Mai, who produced their films as high school sophomores, were both recognized. WayCAM’s website became more widely used in 2015. Community members logged into the website an average of 7,605 times per month, an increase of 1,543 monthly over the previous year.
Progress was also made in 2015 in upgrading WayCAM’s equipment to HD (high definition). Phase 1 encompassed upgrading to HD equipment in the Board of Selectmen’s meeting room, the School Committee meeting room, and the Senior Center. This marked the completion of the first phase of the HD upgrade.
WayCAM’s On-Demand programming has become enormously successful. The new system generated 48,433 loads in 2015 versus 8,967 the previous year. Finally, WayCAM’s Executive Director Jim Mullane’s stellar leadership was recognized when he was selected for inclusion in a book entitled “Legendary People of Wayland.” WayCAM is indeed an integral part of the Wayland community, and Mullane’s part in this was lauded in the newly published book by Wayland resident Evelyn Wolfson.
This past year, a new program was launched, “Wayland Weekly Buzz,” which covers town issues in a news format. It is the most viewed program.
Also new in this most recent year is a college outreach program. Three Framingham State University students completed internships at WayCAM. They produced a 30-year WayCAM retrospective in honor of the studio’s 30 years in town. The May 30th anniversary celebration was well attended and included fun and festivities, including performances by a Wayland High School Jazz Trio.
Student films were once again recognized with three international awards for two of the movies. The annual Film Festival was well attended and showcased student accomplishments and pride.
Social Media Updates. Our website (waycam.tv) was updated and now features live streaming, user friendly menus, and a spotlight video feature. Other social media platforms being used include Facebook and Twitter as well as video-on-demand.
Technological Advances. WayCAM has nine studios with live feeds. This year saw HD upgrades in the planning board offices and the large hearing room. The school committee room has a new HD camera and the high school theatre now has a three-camera HD studio.
Community connections are being strengthened through relationships with Pelham Island Productions, the school district’s Pegasus summer program, scouting organizations, and WayCo Amateur Sports Development, Inc.
High school classes being offered this year include TV Production and the Honors Script-to-Screen class. Last May, two students received $2,000 WayCAM scholarships in honor of their contributions to WayCAM during their high school careers.
We saw a new record for PEG programs with 62 a month, representing 8 more a month from the previous year. In total, 88 taped 745 programs this year, up, and production hours tallied 2,615, up from 888 the previous period.
The Wayland Channels have served the community of Wayland since 1985. We strive to improve our performance each and every year.
WayCAM welcomes the participation of community residents and organizations and encourages anyone with programming ideas or an interest in learning about technical aspects of television production to get involved in this thriving community resource.
On behalf of the WayCAM Board of Directors, I thank you for your interest in WayCAM.
President and Chair, Board of Directors