Public broadcasting station, Channel 15, makes upgrades

MORGANTOWN — When the switcher that jumps Morgantown’s government access channel, Channel 15, back and forth between live meeting broadcasts and prerecorded content went down over the holidays, it brought the channel to its own fork in the road.
“It was basically at the point where if we wanted to make significant improvements to Channel 15 we were going to have to purchase a major piece of equipment to update it. We could have continued, which we did for a little bit, going down the road we were on, which, in my mind, it was underutilized,” Morgantown Communications Director Andrew Stacy said. “I don’t think that’s anyone’s fault. I just don’t think people had the time to pay attention to it and that’s not what they were asked to do.”
The major piece of equipment referenced is a $10,598 Leightronix UltraNEXUS-HD video server.
Stacy said that improving the quality and consistency of Channel 15 has been a priority since joining the city late last year. He explained that the new server is essentially an all-in-one solution to a pieced-together system utilizing a range of equipment – for example, a car audio amplifier – that had become antiquated and overly complicated
“With this new box we basically started from scratch. We ran new wires from council chambers up to my office and into the box. Then down in the basement is where it goes out to Comcast. Even still we’re troubleshooting issues, like a little bit of feedback on the audio side. I mean, it’s way better than it used to be, but if you turn it up you can hear it’s not clear,” Stacy said. “I think part of that too, it’s still an analog channel. It’s not a digital channel. I’ve been talking to Comcast about what it would take to get that switched over.”
Stacy said he knows more people watch the channel than you might expect, particularly the live and rebroadcast city meetings. He said he’s also looking to expand the variety of pre-recorded content on the channel.
According to The Dominion Post archive, Channel 15 began in early 2000 as part of a franchise agreement between the city and Adelphia Cable. The city used a $50,000 grant to purchase equipment to broadcast city council meetings.
In 2016, former City Manager Jeff Mikorski said much of the equipment in use was original to when he helped spearhead the creation of the channel while working as the city’s assistant city manager.
Today, live and recorded broadcasts including meetings of the Morgantown Planning Commission, Morgantown Board of Zoning Appeals and Morgantown City Council appear on the channel, as well as broadcasts of special events like municipal elections, a community bulletin board and prerecorded content.