4VS Finalizes Plans for New Infrastructure, Eyes Teen-Centric Safety Program
With more than a decade of successful local programming under its belt, Four Village Studio (4VS) is in the final planning stages of upgrading its infrastructure from analog to digital. “The [upgraded] infrastructure will set us up so that when we buy future equipment, it can more easily plug into the equipment that we have. …We’re here 13 years and expect to be here another 13 years,” said Operations Manager James Green.
While 4VS has been planning the upgrade for the past two years, “It’s been on the horizon for us for the last five years,” Green said. The upgrade is being financed through a Verizon PEG (public, education, government access channel) grant that 4VS received in 2008. The studio’s original infrastructure equipment was a “contribution” from Cablevision in 1997, Green said.
“When Verizon came onto the scene carrying cable television, the Public Service Commission mandated that they do apples-to-apples, the same exact setup as Cablevision did, for fair competition,” Green explained. What that meant for 4VS is that Verizon had to provide the studio with a channel, in the same way that Cablevision does. In the FIOS system, 4VS is channel 28, and on Cablevision, it’s channel 18.
Four Village Studio serves Bellerose Village, Floral Park, South Floral Park and Stewart Manor. As such, each of the four villages divided the sum that was projected to cover the cost of the infrastructure upgrade, and in their individual contract negotiations with Verizon requested the grant for the studio, Green said. “That ended up getting us a decent amount of infrastructure cash, and we saved a little bit [by spending budget dollars prudently the past couple of years],” which ultimately led to the upgrade.
Armed with a new infrastructure, 4VS looks to add to its programming arsenal by producing a show with the Floral Park Police Department. “A couple members of the police department are going to produce a show on texting and driving,” Green said. The show is scheduled to be produced at the end of March and will likely air in early May. “The Police Department is excited about doing that show and maybe doing subsequent shows,” Green added. Four Village Studio will work with the FPPD to produce one show at a time, based on the police department’s availability and the topics it wants to get out to the community.
The new show will round out the studio’s existing 15 show titles, which range from cultural shows—which spotlight literature and music—to “Story Time” for young children who live within the Four Village area. “We’re a little different from a lot of other government access studios, [which] have a billboard … and do official-type programming, but with a very small staff. We broaden out the kinds of shows that we’re willing to do. As long as they’re informational, educational or cultural, we can fit them into our umbrella of shows that we’re capable of doing,” Green said.
The studio’s longest-running, regularly produced show is Wes Houston Presents. Backed by more than 35 years’ experience leading his own band, host-producer Wes Houston screens thousands of CDs from aspiring musicians looking to land an interview on his show. “I listen to it all. I get back to everybody,” Houston said. His musical guests hail from various states, although the majority are from surrounding regions. In determining who makes the cut, Houston admits much of his decision stems from his own musical preference, although he does seek out professionalism in his candidates.
While focusing on keeping up with cutting-edge technology and diverse programming to best serve the community, “Our highest calling that we’ve had from the very beginning is the educational opportunity that it affords students in this area who are interested in media. There’s a lot of transferrable information that you can get out of joining our staff,” Green boasted. Four Village Studio uses the same software that is used in high-level network television shows and movies. Student volunteers also receive audio training, thanks to the music shows the studio produces. “This provides a link between kids who have a passion for media and finding a job in the industry,” Green said. “We teach them the stuff that will give them a little bit of an edge and make them rise to the top. We help them choose colleges, classes, internships. We teach professionalism,” he added.
Students can become volunteer crew members at the age of 15, and many stay throughout college. “We’ve been very successful at feeding the industry entry-level professionals. We have 11 people out there working professionally that basically can trace the benefits of their career back to Four Village Studio,” Green said. He cited entities such as Rainbow Networks in Bethpage, ESPN and Fox Sports that have recruited 4VS alumni.
With the exception of Green himself, nearly the entire staff works on a volunteer basis. However, the studio recently started to offer paid summer internships for exceptional student volunteers. Sewanhaka graduate Veronica Venturi was the first recipient of such an internship. Venturi started working at the studio in January 2008 and elevated to a paid summer intern in 2010. Now she juggles approximately 15 hours of volunteering at the studio with studying editing and filmmaking at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. Veronica credits the learning curve she received at 4VS with what gives her an edge in college. What’s more, “It’s fun being here! It’s my home away from home,” she said.
As for Green, “After 13 years, I love coming to work every single day,” he said.
Four Village Studio’s program schedule appears each week on Page 2 of The Floral Park Dispatch.