A live TV broadcast takes place in downtown St. John every Tuesday and Friday at 11 a.m.
It’s time for the news. For SSC TV3 that means its time to go live on the air twice a week from downtown St. John.
David Cutright, news producer, is in charge of this operation that broadcasts to St. John on Cable Channel 3. Operating out of Sandyland Shepherd’s Center, SSC TV 3 is hitting the airwaves with local news and events that are important to the community. The show airs at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays.
When the St. John News editor Terry Spradley died, there was no one local all the time to cover all the local happenings in the community. The St. John News was not able to provide the same amount of coverage it could when Spradley was alive so Cutright decided to do something about it.
The Sandyland Shepherd’s Center had been operating a very basic broadcast program out of their building. They were actually using equipment Cutright’s family had sold them when they got out of the local cable business. The Cutright family started their own cable network in 1978 and were in operation until 1988. The business started in a garage on his dad’s land and they were broadcasting from their own tower using their own equipment.
It was the early days of cable broadcasting and the Cutright family were truly pioneers. Their story was featured on Channel 12 and Channel 2. They were called a “phenomenon.” In the early days of cable, things were run much differently. They didn’t have to pay the fees or contracts. The only thing they had to pay for was copyright material they down loaded.
But times change and after 10 years of operation, Cutright’s parents were ready to retire in 1988. They also saw the changes coming in the cable industry. The bigger stations were taking over and Cox was gobbling up the mom and pop operations.
“We could see our life cycle going down. It just made sense to sell it at the time,” Cutright said.
So they sold their equipment to Sandyland Shepherds Center and they kept it going on a very limited basis for many years. Then Spradley died and the St. John News just wasn’t able to cover the area like it used to so Cutright decided to take action.
“There were lots of things not being covered,” Cutright said.
He had professional equipment in storage and the knowledge to rework the little studio in the Shepherd’s Center. So he went to work. He pitched the idea to the Shepherd’s Center. They liked it and Cutright started upgrading the studio. He was putting features in the fall of 2017 and they began to see an increase in viewership. It was a small increase but when they got over 50 views on a program, it was clear people were interested. It wasn’t viral but it was better.
“Anything over 50 views we call bacterial,” Cutright said.
He put his plans together in January and went on the air with the new and rejuvenated SSC TV 3 the second week in February. The community response was very positive and the Shepherd’s Center was thrilled.
Cutright took over the news, did the editing, directing, producing and all the jobs the big stations do, he was doing in a small place.
While Cutright does the lions share of the work, he has some help. His Tuesday Anchor is Jim Lakey, director of the Shepard Center.
His Friday anchor is St. John High School Senior Jeffrey Lyon who has a number of duties at the station. He does live video on location, edits and produces features. He uses Cutright’s equipment and gets class credit for his work.
Lyon wants to be in the entertainment industry and saw SSC TV 3 as a perfect way to get some valuable experience for his future.
“I was able to come over here. It was right up my alley,” Lyon said. “It’s like informing people and I am definitely into it.”
He spends a little over an hour at the studio putting the show on the air, running the controls, showing features and running commercials.
For Lyon, this is an interactive learning experience. He said he would rather do things than work in a textbook or fill out a work sheet.
When he started this project, he was excited and a little nervous. He still gets nervous but its kind of exciting to cover the activity in the town. Whether its covering a school event, a council meeting, whats going on at a greenhouse or interviewing a political candidate, there’s lots going on in St. John.
“There’s always something new going on,” Lyon said. “There’s lots of different stories. It’s great stuff.”
And that stuff gets on the air quickly and into social media as well. Within about 20 minutes of broadcast, the recorded show is featured on their Facebook site and on UTube as well.
So when it’s time for the news in St. John, that means SSC TV 3 is on the air.