I braved the unforgiving winds of the Polar Vortex on a recent January afternoon to reach the warm shelter of the Somerville Community Access TV studios. There I was to interview two key staff members of this fine organization: Erica Jones and Gordon Nelson. Jones, an upbeat woman hovering around the 30 year old mark, has a slightly subversive sense of humor, and a knack for snappy dialogue. For the past year or so Jones has been the Program and Outreach Coordinator for SCAT. Nelson, a laid back man, with a graying beard and an avuncular manner, is the Youth Coordinator for this non-profit.
Jones is originally from upstate New York and attended college there, later receiving her advanced degree from Suffolk University in Boston. I asked Jones ,a resident of Teele Square, why she chose Somerville to put down her walking cane. She said: “I love the fact that everyday something is going on here. I also like the accessibility to Boston and the sense of community Somerville offers.”
Nelson, a Pittsburgh native, is an independent filmmaker and although he lives in Malden with his wife, he said: “I feel spiritually committed to Somerville.” He told me that his films have been shown at the ICA, the Mass. Art Film Society and at various venues in NYC.
Since Jones has come on board at SCAT over a year ago she has worked to connect SCAT to the community through social media, and planning events like the “Potluck Lecture Series,” as well as forming partnerships with such institutions as the Cambridge Heath Alliance, and other organizations.
Nelson said of the team at the TV station: “All of the staff at SCAT are involved with all aspects of the operation.”
Under SCAT director Wendy Blom’s steady hand Jones and other staff have updated the website, and started a news program the “Somerville Neighborhood Network.” This nightly news program has a number of rotating anchors and reporters. One reporter of note is state rep. Denise Provost. Jones said the program fills a void for in-depth coverage of local stories. (Of course The Somerville Times also supplies great coverage!). Some of the stories the news program has covered have been the Green line Extension, Homelessness in Somerville, Heroin abuse, Labor Rights issues, etc… The show even has a high school reporter who brings news from the hallowed halls of secondary education.
Another relatively new development at SCAT is “Boston Free Radio.” This internet radio station is open to all Massachusetts residents. Here folks can produce their own radio shows, and there are very few limitations on subject matter. There is one show “Love Scene” that deals with relationships and “healthy” sex. Jones, with a sly look in her gimlet eyes told me it is “Hot and steamy.”
All in all SCAT seems to be a vital organization in the Paris of New England, Somerville, Mass. The staff members I have known for the past 11 years that I have produced my show have been accomplished, and accessible. SCAT can help you realize your personal goals and even your professional.
Check out what is happening at SCAT http://scatvsomerville.org.