WNC Community Media Center shuts down studio operations

The WNC Community Media Center has shut down studio operations while it continues to look for funding and production alternatives that would keep public-access television station URTV on the air. 

The nonprofit organization closed its facility at 31 College Place in downtown Asheville on Saturday night, May 14.

“This action was taken to drastically reduce operating cost as a result of severe budget constraints in funding by local government,” announced Bob Horn, vice president of the WNC Community Media Center’s board. The Center has no paid staff at this time: Pat Garlinghouse, the Center’s former executive director and Jonathan Czarny, former operations manager, are no longer employed by the organization, although they continue to volunteer for it, said Horn.

Meanwhile, URTV is using an automated system to continue broadcasting pre-recorded material via its website and Charter Communications Channel 20, he explained. The loss of the facility means that producers will no longer be able to use Media Center equipment and studios, and all classes, training and other services are on hold. However, the Media Center’s board of directors is looking for ways to air new programming that producers create using their own equipment and resources, reported Horn.

“We’ve been thinking outside of the box based on the money we have available to operate it. … We’re looking into a system that would allow producers to upload content online and pull programming on to the channel,” he explained. “It’s nice to have a studio, but when it’s taken away from you, there [are] other vehicles that are available to us as a community. But they take more expertise.” For those with limited technical skills, putting together a show can be challenging but not impossible, Horn explains. “Basically people could submit their information like you can submit to Google or Vimeo or YouTube and it would allow them access to our public access channel. It would be done remotely.”

Meanwhile, the board continues to consider taking legal action against Buncombe County to receive funding it says it’s owed.  And Horn maintained that officials at the state attorney general’s office are investigating the situation.

“It’s very fluid where we’re at right now,” he noted, adding that the board is still holding out hope that it will be able to revive its facility, which he says the landlord will allow them to retain for another month at no charge.


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18 thoughts on “WNC Community Media Center shuts down studio operations

  1. Bjorn

    It’s unfortunate the community has now lost another resource that it never fully utilized.

  2. OK, I’m lost.

    A group that may or may not have an active contract with the city and county have now run out of funding, closed their production studio, are accepting home made content, want to allow that content to just be piped into some stream that will filter it to online and broadcast, and is relying on a board of people who purpose remains unclear and volunteer help.

    Did I miss anything?

  3. Jake Frankel

    Thanks for the comments and questions mat catastrophe.

    One point I think I should address: Horn did say that any content they would accept online for air on URTV would be held to the same standards and rules that applied when they were operating the studio.

  4. Bjorn

    Jake’s correct not all Public Access stations have studio facilities, most are staffed with a coordinator who reviews “home-made” off site programing, programs the system to broadcast various shows that meet community guidelines & keeps broadcast logs.

  5. Big Al

    “…any content they would accept online for air on URTV would be held to the same standards and rules that applied when they were operating the studio. ”

    Translation: the same worthless crap that was on URTV is now worthless crap online.

  6. Illuminatti_01

    Jan Davis (present City liaison to URTV) DID say things were pretty haphazard over there. Still glad to see the high standards of the Monk of Montford, IChing Show and the Glo-lady will still be around for the community.

  7. elaneon

    I was one of the citizens of Asheville/Buncombe who took the opportunity to utilize URTV. I took classes, learned how to use the equipment, and produced the kind of grassroots TV that looks bare bones, and mega-cheesy, and is a thousand times more challenging to pull off than you’d think.

    In the process, I got to meet and work with a lot of great like-minded people, and a lot of great people who have almost nothing in common with me too- people I wouldn’t have met or worked with any where else (even in Asheville!)

    Better than that, I got to watch their TV shows on channel 20. I learned a lot about Asheville, and the art, music, culture, politics, and people here I wouldn’t have known about otherwise, even though I’ve been a resident and active member of the community for years.

    URTV was a fun, educational, life-changing, soul-enriching experience for me. One that I’ll never forget. I’m truly sorry for everyone who won’t have the same opportunities that I had- to use professional studios and equipment that only multi-millionaires can afford themselves- to learn about cameras, sound, editing, lighting etc. – to make home-grown, non-Corporate, free speech, even LIVE tv- and all for free or next to nothing compared to the cost of taking classes/equipment rental/air time anywhere else.

    Asheville/Buncombe has lost a unique, irreplaceable, community resource and is therefore diminished. On the bright side, I now can cancel with Charter since there is no longer anything I want to watch on cable.

  8. Some sitcky wickets here……County Attorney Frue says their contract is no longer valid. Also the interlocal agreement between Buncombe and Asheville has expired and to my knowledge has not been renewed.

    Additionally since the county provides the channel, how can the present management be utilizing the channel, if they no longer have a contract?

  9. Bjorn

    If the people hurling insults really had anything worthwhile to say they’d get off their keisters & make their own URTV programs, instead of persecuting them from behind their anonymous ramparts.

    I’m sure they’d even honor your first amendments rights – regardless of what you said.

  10. I produced and led a live, 90-minute political talk show every week for 5 months at URTV studios. It was fun and challenging. When URTV changed management and drove out good people doing hard work, I retired the show and my membership. I’m not surprised it has come to this.

  11. Watching for all those “hidden agendas” to come to fruition. Why just tonight at the Commissioners meeting, the community was informed by the Mad Monk that the County was actually paying folks to cause trouble.

  12. Aaron Brown

    What -i leave Ashville for a few months to work on a few projects and at the meantime in my travel people would donate funds/barter with me for a copy to see Ashville UrTv/ and instead of playing the blame game or whatever it is poor when you have a number of issue to address becoming more limited,let’s overlook there summer program for the under 18 producers who is in the middle of a War on Art,and who will Pay the Cost? Other than Resident who would like to see Local Issue, Events ,Schools ,Students and More and on that note the #1 place in Asheville that show Diversity is Asheville Middle school than URTV..

  13. sharpleycladd

    I am watching al-Jazeera on channel 20 instead of Brother Christopher and have absolutely no complaints.

  14. Bjorn

    Saving URTV wasn’t about saving any particular program, in fact I felt many shows could’ve been better. However, the producers never had to appease my aesthetics or hold similar social-political views for me to support them. It was about saving the means to ensure that anyone from the community, could produce a show, on any topic they felt important.

    I believe if the will was present, the funding would materialise.

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