PhillyCAM: City’s first public access channel gets new studio

PhillyCAM, the city’s first public access television station celebrated its grand opening in Center City today. After a 30-year-fight for funding and broadcasting everywhere from City Hall to the Painted Bride, the studio finally has a state-of-the-art, permanent home.

“This is a special and personal moment for me,” said Mayor Michael Nutter, who fought for the station for years. “It’s a way of giving everyone the opportunity to participate in civil and public discourse.”

“We wanted to create a space to show you we’re more than just a television station, but a community center,” said Director Gretjen Clausing. The age of YouTube only means that people are more willing to share their ideas and opinions and communicate with diverse communities, she said. “Public access is still incredibly relevant.”

The building, whose equipment is completely digital, features a media lab, community space, classrooms and offices. Designed by Metcalfe Architecture, the studio’s bright color palette is based on the test patterns of a classic television, said Alan Metcalfe. “We had a low budget, so we put a lot into paint and nice, bright finishes.”

“The most important aspect was to be accessible,” he said. “People gravitate to people, so you can see the sets on the street. We wanted to create curiosity so people come in.”

The station’s programming currently includes shows such as “Crosstalk,” featuring crossword puzzle hi-jinx at a corner coffee shop, drag sketch comedy show “The Dumpsta Players Presents,” and talk show “Celebrities in the Basement.”

“Scrapple News” and “Termite TV,” show unprocessed, alternatively-framed current events and “Unsolved: Philadelphia,” our city’s own “America’s Most Wanted,” has already led to one suspect turning himself in and several tip phone calls.

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