Longtime Grafton resident’s life in front of the lens


By Joyce DeWallace, Contributing Writer

Longtime Grafton resident’s life in front of the lens
Jim Gallagher takes his regular seat on the set of “Ask the Geezers” where he is a longtime volunteer for Grafton Community Television.

Grafton – In 1978 when Jim Gallagher moved to Grafton, he was a typical suburban commuter.  Over the next years, he became more and more involved with the town, serving on various commissions and committees. He had grown up in Cambridge in public housing and shared that background as the government appointee to the Grafton Housing Authority. Through the many local contacts he made, he became involved with Grafton Public Access TV when it started in 1984.

The station was in its infancy, and he and Dennis Perron tossed around the idea of a show about local happenings that evolved into “Grafton Update,” a monthly community magazine.  Gallagher became the host of that show which was produced by Steve Rybicki and later, Audrey Eagan.

Gallagher feels that one of the best shows was on the topic of Alzheimer’s in the late 1980s, which is still being shown. The hour-long segment included interviews with doctors and nurses from UMass Medical Center, caregivers from the Grafton Senior Center, and a very moving conversation with a man afflicted with Alzheimer’s and his wife.

“This show was so emotional. Both Audrey and I had lost our mothers to the disease, and this was such an important story to share with the community. The intent was to provide resources and information for patients and their caregivers, so that they could access community and medical services that were available in this area,” explained Gallagher.

    Grafton Update covered a wide range of topics, including local events, human interest stories, interviews with community leaders, and fundraisers. The show added a series on Grafton’s treasures and delved into local history and the people who had an impact on the town. The purpose of the show was local information, so debates between local candidates were hosted. If political aspirants were in the area, they were invited to be on the show as well. Ralph Nader and Mitt Romney both had turns on this local program.

Gallagher’s second show was “Ask the Geezers,” sharing the stage with Bob DeToma and Rick Schultze. The one-hour call-in program first aired in January 2007 and is still broadcast live twice each month.

“There is no set format,” Gallagher said. “We have a few ground rules: no politics and no religion. Our catch phrase is, ‘Ask us anything, and we’ll give you an answer.’”

He added that there are three segments. DeToma discusses “This Day in History,” anything that may have happened anywhere in the world on that particular date. Schultze shares funny pictures that have made him laugh out loud. Gallagher’s shtick is his Top 10 List.

“Last Thursday, my top 10 was why men prefer dogs to their wives. The number one was that dog’s parents don’t come over to visit,” he joked.

A mystery guest has been added as a new feature.

The third show that this dynamic volunteer hosts is called “Television Classics with Jim Gallagher.”

“The idea came up on Ask the Geezers. So many trivia questions were called in about old TV shows that Bob decided to create this TV classics show,” Gallagher recalled. “We usually film five shows at a time. In between, I change my sweater. Bob gives me a list of the shows that will be featured, then I do the research and the script.”

The series of half-hour shows features mostly black and white programs from the earliest days of commercial television in the late 1940s, ‘50s and early ‘60s. Gallagher introduces each program with detailed historical and sometimes whimsical information about who appeared in the program and when it ran on TV.

Gallagher has been an unpaid volunteer for over 30 years and has watched the station grow and evolve into Grafton Community Television. He puts in about eight hours of work every week.

“Grafton TV is a love affair,” he said. “I’ve come in contact with community members who share my passion for the town, and it’s given me an opportunity to showcase their knowledge, skills and abilities.”

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