When Steve Kloser abruptly resigned in July as the director of Princeton Community Television (TV30), Princeton launched a search for a replacement with a proven dedication to public access television.
With a background in broadcast television extending back more than a decade, George McCollough hopes to be the leader Princeton has been searching for.
Mr. McCollough comes here after serving for 14 years as station manager for DUTV, Drexel University's cable channel. At his previous job in Philadelphia, where he still lives, he managed all operations for the educational access cable channel, which reached 325,000 homes and operated 24 hours a day.
While the DUTV was run through the University, it was a community station, with programs of varying interests, made in partnership with students at the University, said Mr. McCollough.
One of the station's most noteworthy programs, Marching On, was hosted by a homeless woman transitioning back into society. The show explored the issues of poverty and allowed viewers to see the world through the eyes of the economically deprived.
"I like empowering people to make their own television programs, to find their own voice," said Mr. McCollough, adding that he isn't an enthusiast of mainstream media. He feels that Princeton's station should provide "real, down to earth" programming that really speaks to the people of the community.
Since arriving at the station at the end of July, Mr. McCollough, who has been hired by the Borough on an interim basis through December, said he has already received several ideas from the community about the type of programming the station should offer. One of his missions, however, has been to help those who have ideas for programs to realize what they really want to convey.
The new director also intends to appeal to the Borough to provide funding so the station can purchase new equipment that would improve the visual quality of the shows. He is also looking to hire interns this fall from Princeton High School, and recently met with Superintendent Judy Wilson to discuss the possibility of students volunteering at the station for class credit.
"We're very interested in utilizing TV30's services," said Ms. Wilson, mentioning that there is a possibility that Mr. McCollough will be coming into the high school to teach workshops on video production; the school also may utilize the station to produce some feature programs with students.
A graduate of Temple University with a bachelor's degree in communications and a minor in business management, Mr. McCollough said he got into television "by accident," while pursuing a personal interest. When he first became involved in video production, he thought it would be an easy field to pursue, more fun than work. He has since discovered, however, that it's time-consuming, hard work, and requires many different skills.
Luckily he has been able to meet the medium's demands, making several documentaries on local or national policies and issues, and how they affect communities and the people who live in them. One of these documentaries, Prison Dialogues: A Message To Our Youth, won three awards in 2001, including third place for creative excellence at the U.S. International Film and Video Festival. The documentary describes the lives of inmates serving life sentences at Graterford Prison, Pennsylvania's largest maximum security prison.
More recently, Mr. McCollough finished making Eminent Domain, a film based on the policy that allows local governments to force property owners to sell out and make way for private economic development if it has been shown to benefit the public. The documentary is based on a specific case which took place this year in Philadelphia, and he is now holding screenings in his home city.
He added that he would like to also screen the film in Princeton, as well as on TV30.
Mr. McCollough has also received recognition through his position at DUTV for outstanding achievements in institutional access in 1997, as well as a merit award for commendable community service in 1999.
The new director of Princeton Community Television said he encourages anyone with ideas or suggestions for TV30, as well as those who would like to get involved as volunteers, to contact him at the station, at (609) 252-1963.