Northborough relies on skills, expertise of community media channel through the pandemic

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Photos/submitted
NCAT Volunteer Jeff Ellis covers a girls basketball game at ARHS.

By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer

NORTHBOROUGH – Community events and celebrations have been impacted over the last year due to the pandemic. Northborough Cable Access Television (NCAT) staff is dedicated to meeting the needs of the community and keeping residents connected in uncertain times. 

Director Kathleen Dalgliesh and Production Supervisor Dana Volke have been instrumental in making this happen as a true community media station providing quality, positive on-air content and being a resource are their priorities.

The last year has put a spotlight on NCAT as the public sees the moving parts and complicated pieces behind the scenes that go into covering and broadcasting an event successfully.  

“Our motto through this whole thing…is, when people ask if it is possible to do something, we will figure it out to make it happen,” said Dalgliesh.  

NCAT pushes forward with dedicated team

NCAT has a professional staff of two full-time and two part-time employees. The studio is based at Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) with three channels dedicated to public access/community, education, and local government content. 

Programs can be viewed on Charter Spectrum channels 191, 192, and 194 and on Verizon channels 29, 30, and 31. Recorded events and meetings can be viewed at the Northborough Cable YouTube channel.

Community media seeks solutions for the community

Through the tumult of COVID-19, staff are proud of what they’ve done.

“We are able to adapt to the world situation right now quickly and it has worked out well,” said Volke.

Photo/submitted
NCAT Production Supervisor Dana Volke sits while hard at work editing video content.

The NCAT team assisted town committees and boards transition from in-person meetings to Zoom remote meetings. They continue to monitor the Board of Selectmen, Planning Board and school committee meetings and optimize the audio and visual for broadcast.

NCAT works closely with Senior Center

Many seniors may not be able to access Zoom fitness classes or other remote options during the pandemic. They may, though, be able to access NCAT stations. As a result, staff have shared everything from exercise classes to information and resources that matter the most to those seniors. 

“We are doing everything we can to get the word out about anything that might be important to our seniors,” said Dalgliesh.

Staff live-stream youth sports

Meanwhile, NCAT is also live-streaming school sports games as spectators have been limited or not allowed. 

“For parents, it is gut-wrenching,” said Volke. “For many, their kids are [high school] seniors and this is possibly the last time they compete, and they aren’t there to support their kids.”

“I believe families truly appreciate having the opportunity to watch their children,” said ARHS Athletic Director Mike Mocerino.

Certain events require special approach

The 2020 town meeting required an untold amount of hours of planning for the feasibility of the technical capability for multiple scenarios that were brought forward.

The school district relied on NCAT as school reopening plans were formed. Staff and faculty specific videos were produced and parent informational videos were created.

NCAT also assisted churches to broadcast worship services for community members unable to access the internet or attend in person. 

“Kathy Dalgliesh and Dana Volke have been nothing but supportive and accommodating,” said Trinity Church Pastor Rev. Valeria Schmidt. “Northborough is truly blessed to have them!” 

Due to gathering restrictions, the community could not participate in Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Applefest and holiday events. These were professionally captured, edited and shared. Other events went virtual such as the Northborough Cultural Council’s CultureFest, Northborough Library’s Bear Hunt, and a town-wide holiday decoration contest. 

NCAT lends a hand for Class of 2020 graduation video

As the Class of 2020 reached the end of its time in high school last year, NCAT staff worked with the school administration, teachers and music department. 

They produced a final video incorporating individual student photos, the traditional tassel turning, drive-up diploma distribution, speeches, and musical performances. 

Volke said it was one of the most complex projects in his eleven year career and took well over 80 hours to edit and produce, all within a strict deadline and while having a newborn baby at home.

“There is a misconception that editing video is done overnight,” he said. “The reality is it’s a time-consuming process and it takes a lot of skill to do it right.”

NCAT will continue to immerse itself into the community where technical help is needed and to assist students explore skills in the field. 

“Our model is changing and evolving as the industry is changing and evolving,” said Dalgliesh. “Our job is never the same every day.”