Small television station makes a big impact in Meridian Township

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HOMTV is located in Meridian Township’s municipal building. Photo by Katherine White.

Its control room is very small, its set is small, but the news it produces is big. Located in Meridian Township’s Municipal building, is HOMTV, or Haslett, Okemos, and Meridian Township Television, reports on anything that has to do with Meridian Township.   

The station has four channels, one for its productions (HOMTV), one for public access (CAMTV), and both Okemos and Haslett high schools have a channel.

HOMTV has a daily show, “Meridian News Now”, which is a 10 to 15-minute show that reports on everything in Meridian Township. “Meridian News Now” used to be a 30-minute show that was aired once a week, but was recently changed to a 11:30 a.m. daily show that is not as long.

“We’ve talked about a daily newscast for years. There was a lot of consideration going into it, but so far we have seen positive effects from it,” said HOMTV executive producer and communications specialist Brandie Yates.

“It has been a change, and a little overwhelming. Mornings are more hectic as we try to get everything together before the show,” said HOMTV studio production manager Roy Kellerman Jr.

Besides “Meridian News Now,” HOMTV re-airs government meetings, produces a sports show, an entertainment show and other shows tailored to Meridian Township.

CAMTV is a public access channel, meaning that residents who produce their own shows can submit it to HOMTV.

“The residents can fill out an application for us to broadcast their show. As long as they have a ‘PBS standard’, so no swearing or nudity or anything like that,” said HOMTV video programmer and studio producer Ben Makulski.

“Most of those programs are talk shows, but it’s really interesting because people can create whatever they want. There are two political talk shows with opposite views and it’s really cool because people can get both sides,” said Makulski.

The high school channels are produced by the local high schools, but they are broadcasted by HOMTV.

Everything on HOMTV is government funded. Funds are provided through franchise fees. HOMTV has a deal with Comcast, so Comcast takes a part of the subscribers’ fees and provides HOMTV with that portion.

However, television is not the only way that HOMTV streams.

“We’ve been streaming to Facebook Live, and keep updating our social media, especially during the township meetings,” said Kellerman. “We just got new technology to Skype people during our shows.”

HOMTV is composed of a seven person crew and 18 interns. The interns are able to sharpen their skills in different aspects of a news station, including reporting, production, and social media.

Most of the news packages are shot and edited by interns. In addition, they are the ones producing, directing, and being on air for the shows. The staff is there to help the interns learn, but the interns get a lot of hands on experience.

“I give out topics at the beginning of the week, and then the interns will pick two to cover,” said Yates. “We try to make this similar to the real world as much as possible. We want to make sure it is a learning environment for them.” 

Yates likes being able to see where HOMTV alumni go. In their studio, there is a map with all the past alumni that have gone to other places.

“It’s always really cool to see where people end up. It’s really rewarding knowing that I have helped others achieve their dreams,” Yates said.