As the governor’s “Safer at Home” order was widely being reported, SPMC director Jeff Robbins made the difficult decision to suspend community access to the Media Center effective on the afternoon of March 23. The KIDS-4 program had already been suspended as of March 13.
While this decision pained the entire SPMC staff – recognizing that the Media Center is built on the idea of community access – it quickly became clear that the step was a necessary one to support the governor’s call to eliminate nonessential travel and to limit community spread of COVID-19.
Since March 23, staff has been working from home to, among many other tasks, program the channels and help produce programming.
Although media outlets are exempt from the Governor’s order, being a community media center means that the SPMC is in a unique situation.
“We are still collaborating with city officials and staff to disseminate vital information to the public during this crisis as well as broadcasting city meetings,” said Robbins. “But since so much of our content is community based, it’s simply not responsible for us to have the constant stream of member producers flowing into the media center and operating shared equipment, even as we had already taken steps to sanitize the center and our equipment as much as possible.”
“Now is the only time in my six years as the director of the Media Center when having such an active, engaged, and dedicated team of volunteer producers could be anything less than a blessing,” continued Robbins.
While the KIDS-4 program will not reconvene this crew year, summer workshops are scheduled to begin in July with registration for those workshops to begin on April 15. More information is available at kids4.tv.
Despite the sadly non-accessible state of the Media Center, there is new programming available on KSUN, 103.5 FM The Sun Community Radio, and the SPMC app, as some producers have been producing programming at home. (Check out this example of our long-running movie review program!) And thanks to the Friends of the Sun Prairie Media Center fundraising group, portable podcast units are being purchased that will allow members to contribute programming remotely.
Staff can also meet members on an individual basis to checkout video equipment.
Any questions about the Media Center during this time should be directed to Jeff Robbins at firstname.lastname@example.org.