Adjust Your Television

The YouTube-ification of public-access TV in S.F. is about to begin – and the old cast of kooky cable programmers doesn’t like it one bit.

No meeting about public access in San Francisco would be complete without a mention of the time-slot lottery, and Miles was happy to bring it up: "How many like the lottery?" Nine out of the 60 raised their hands. Gilomen responded: "I don't even know what the lottery is." Good answer.

Ace Washington stood to address the crowd in his sparkly Obama hoodie, attempting to recruit members for his "transition team": "Regardless of what you hear here and don't know, you can know if you're part of the transition team, because yours truly is on top of this transition team, and is going to be responsible to get the information back to you, the public, and on top of them," he said, motioning at the BAVC reps. "Now you hear they're going to tour the studios, the transition team is going to try to be part of that — document it. You gotta use your cameras. That's your only tool; that's been my tool."

"All I'll say is I'm open to anybody's comments," Ikeda said. "It needs to be organized, and I encourage it."

At a recent producers’ meeting, Labor on the Job’s Steve Zeltzer called for City Hall hearings about the future of public-access television.
Frank Gaglione
At a recent producers’ meeting, Labor on the Job’s Steve Zeltzer called for City Hall hearings about the future of public-access television.

"I'm not talkin' about comments. I'm talkin about act-u-a-lity," Washington replied, and sat down.

At some points, a few producers mulled the idea that things might actually improve under BAVC, which is expected to formally take over public-access operations in September after it finalizes a deal with the city. One producer looked around the room where all but a couple of attendees were under 40 and admitted that bringing in the youth with which BAVC works could be beneficial: BAVC "will bring in new ideas, what I've been asking for a long time." Dee Dee demanded that people snap out of their funk: "I don't understand this fear. It can't be worse. I want some optimism."

After the meeting, producers huddled in the hallway, finishing the snacks and exchanging their still-unquelled concerns about the station. After all the others had left, three icons of the public-access old guard, David Miles, Dee Dee, and Queen Bee (making a surprise appearance after seven years off the air, leaving her bumblebee getup at home, alas), reminisced about the old station. Miles said BAVC seemed like the same old "corporate" strategy as Access SF, and concluded that he was done with his show: "The public access we knew is gone."

Not that the GodFather of Skating really wanted to take over the channel when he answered the call for proposals to run the station on a reduced budget. Last month, after the city announced its intent to hand over public access to BAVC and not him, Miles wrote the city an e-mail. His reaction to losing? "My God, I am so relieved."

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