Nancy Edmonds Hanson
If you watched the Moorhead Spuds play Elk River in their season opener on your Smart TV or laptop last Friday, you already know the big news from MCAM: The city’s public access television channel has begun livestreaming to viewers via the Internet.
“Streaming has been a goal for a long time. We got a new server several months ago that can finally handle it,” says Tony Tilton, manager of Moorhead Community Access Media. “We actually got it up and running the night before the game.”
He adds, “We’re also hoping to be able to livestream hockey and some girls’ sports events.” MCAM’s programs are going out in standard resolution right now, but with its equipment, it will be able to move up to high-definition as soon as Midco and CableOne, the two cable companies that carry its channels, are ready to step up sometime this fall.
Until now, MCAM’s noncommercial public access channel has only been available to cable subscribers on channels 99 (Midco) and 69 (Cableone). In addition, city council meetings are broadcast live on channels 12 and 58.
Now, thanks to its newfound ability to stream online, fans can also watch the next three Spuds home games live on any Internet-connected TV or device. That opens the door to viewers who use satellite services, as well as those outside the Moorhead city limits, the area to which cable service is limited.
Streaming is available at www.moorheadaccess.org, MCAM’s website. City and county government meetings are streamed and archived on the city and county’s own sites; visitors to the MCAM page can click through to view Moorhead council and some public service commission sessions live or view past meetings. Clay County Commission meetings are posted after their conclusion.
MCAM’s 24-hour schedule includes a mix of locally produced events, classic movies and TV programs from days gone by, all now in the public domain. The content includes the makings for “Matinee at the Theatre,” late-night weekend blocks featuring movie-house cartoons, short subjects and serials like “Flash Gordon.”
Three-hour blocks of themed programs from the 1950s and 1960s are scheduled each evening from 4 to 7 p.m., then replayed from 11 to 2 a.m. and 6 to 9 a.m. They include Mystery Mondays, Tearful Tuesdays, Western Wednesdays, Thriller Thursdays, the Theatre of Fantastic (Saturdays) and Sagebrush Cinema (Sundays). Sunday evenings are saved for a classic movie double feature.
Some live programming is produced by MCAM despite its limited budget, which comes from a portion of the two cable companies’ franchise fees paid to the city. “Moorhead Talks” is a monthly program that brings area leaders and executives into the studio in its Moorhead Center Mall, including Mayor Del Rae Williams and Derrick LaPoint of Downtown Moorhead Inc.; a new episode is planned later this month. In the future, Tony says, the channel hopes to record and livestream from other sites, including the Moorhead Public Service building, the Hjemkomst Center and the Moorhead Library.
He expects a forum for local mayoral candidates to be on the schedule in October; candidate events may also be added.
“Our goal is to give Moorhead a little bit of voice in a medium where we don’t get heard much,” he says. “We’re the lowest budget station around, but we’re growing.”