November 28, 2012 - Say the words 'public access television' and most folks conjure up images of boring government meetings.
But Oxford Community Television (OCTV) knows there's more to local programming than simply broadcasting officials droning on about minutiae for hours upon hours.
That's why the station, located at 1775 N. Lapeer Rd., is proud to offer a variety of exciting and interesting new programs designed to keep viewers entertained as well as informed about every facet of life in the Oxford/Addison area.
"The opportunity to have a network that is strictly dedicated to community is worth it's weight in gold," said OCTV Station Manager Ken LaPlace. "But what we need to do is offer up enough (programming) to get people to watch and do it in a way that competes with conventional television.
"It's one thing to give them content, but it's another (thing) to give it to them in a way that's watchable," he continued. "I think we're getting there. Those that have seen our shows have really been happy . . . But we still need to get the message out. We're not getting nearly the amount of people watching us that I would like."
One of these new shows is "How Great Thou Art" and it airs at 7 a.m, 11:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Hosted by Margot Van Horn, who owned a gallery in downtown Oxford for many years, the 30-minute show features local artists discussing and demonstrating their techniques and mediums, and displaying their works.
"It's basically a platform to present your art," LaPlace said. "That is one of our most popular shows. We have actually garnered a pretty strong following from the art community."
As part of "How Great Thou Art," OCTV will being doing an "up-close-and-personal mini-documentary" about Oxford artist Larry "Sinister" Stephens, whose works have been featured at downtown Oxford's Merge Studio & Gallery.
"That's going to be our first attempt at really doing an in-depth piece," LaPlace said.
Another new show is called "Off the Menu," which airs at 9 a.m., 7 p.m. and 1 a.m. Monday through Friday.
Produced and hosted by Addison resident Teri Stiles, the 30-minute show features frank and enlightening discussions centered around important issues and people affecting the community.
"I did a show similar to it in Lake Orion," said Stiles, who's been with OCTV on and off since 1998 and spent two years working for Orion Neighborhood Television.
So far, the show's guests have included Oxford Township Parks and Rec. Director Ron Davis, Leader Editor C.J. Carnacchio, Superintendent Dr. William Skilling and Oxford Public Library Director Bryan Cloutier.
In upcoming episodes, Stiles plans to interview Oxford Township Supervisor Bill Dunn and village Manager Joe Young.
All of the interviews for "Off the Menu" are taped at local restaurants as a way to help promote them free of charge. Interviews with eatery owners and shots of the food are interspersed throughout the show.
"We've had really good responses from the business owners," said Stiles, who served on the Oxford Village Council from 2006-11.
Vendetti's, Red Knapp's American Grill, Lili's Diner and Ken's Coney Island have all served as locations for the show.
"The venue's different every time," Stiles said.
"Let's Take a Walk" is a new show that features Host David Custer visiting local businesses and learning more about their inner workings by gaining some hands-on experience.
"For example, he went into Mark A. Young Jewelers and Mark showed him how to mount stones and demonstrated all the different ways that they make jewelry," LaPlace said. "He took a class at Bryant Karate. He washed a couple of dogs down at Tender Touch Pet Spa."
LaPlace noted the show, which airs Monday through Friday at 7:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., "gives a more in-depth treatment of who these businesses are and what they do."
"It's really popular," he said. "We're getting a good response from businesses wanting to be on that show."
For music lovers, OCTV is offering two new 30-minute programs, "Take it Live" and "The Garage."
Airing Monday through Friday at 12:30 p.m. and midnight, "Take it Live" is filmed in conjunction with the Oxford School of Music, a local business.
Basically, each show features a different musician or band.
"That show, in particular, (showcases) a little higher level of music," LaPlace explained. "I would say more schooled musicians are on that show . . . They discuss their music and their instruments. You learn about the instruments and you also see them play."
"Take it Live" has highlighted musicians ranging from guitar players to a jazz band.
"On our last show we offered up a lute player," LaPlace said. "On Wednesday (Nov. 28), in the studio, we're going to have a reggae band. That will be a new thing for us."
In contrast, "The Garage," which airs at 1:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, features local bands playing original music, discussing their song-writing process and sharing what inspires them.
"Rock bands are lining up (to be on this show)," LaPlace said. "We've actually got a list."
LaPlace is looking for help and ideas to get two other shows off the ground.
The first is called "Melody Grill." It will feature a host who cooks a dish, while a guest musician creates a soundtrack for it.
"We basically combine (cooking and music) in a way that's a lot of fun," LaPlace said. "As the dish is being built, the musician plays along. The musician's job is to bring life to the ingredients and the dish itself.
"The host will say, 'I'm getting ready to cut up some onions – let me hear the onions talk.' The musician then has to play what he thinks those onions will sound like or how they will (sound as part of) the dish. (For instance,) if it's Mexican (food), he's got to play something really fast . . . . It showcases the musician's virtuosity and it also allows (him) to perform an original song."
"Melody Grill" was originally an Emmy-nominated syndicated show that LaPlace produced and aired in the Mid-Michigan area.
"The show had to end because we simply didn't have enough financing to keep that thing going," LaPlace said. "I would love to bring that show back here, but I need a host who is both a musician and an accomplished chef or cook of some kind. I need somebody who can talk cooking and talk intelligently about music."
OCTV is also in the process of creating a children's show.
"We are definitely working on a children's show that sort of mirrors the old-time shows like Soupy Sales and Bozo (the Clown) where kids can actually come in, interact and have a lot of fun," LaPlace said. "When we produce that show, we're going to need a lot of help from people with imagination, particularly students who want to get into special effects, green screen (technology), acting and performance, and set design."
LaPlace indicated he's always on the hunt for new ideas, suggestions, talented individuals and folks eager to learn and volunteer.
"Knock on my door," he said. "I'm here from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. every day and sometimes on Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m."
LaPlace can be reached via telephone at (248) 628-9658.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.