Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 52
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
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Weather Forecast

Helping People “Find Their Own Voice”: Princeton Community TV Does It Right

Dilshanie Perera

While many residents have probably chanced upon Princeton Community Television while flipping through the channels, most don’t know that they can work on their own shows on site at the station, or take classes there to gain video-making expertise.

Station manager George McCollough said that the best part of his job is being able to say yes to people and help them with the creative process. “I like the idea of giving people freedom, and they have to be responsible for their own actions, but as long as they’re willing to do that, anything is possible.”

Housed in the Valley Road School building at 369 Witherspoon Street, the cable-access station is the town’s hidden jewel where multimedia dreams can be realized. “Our main thing is to let people communicate, and have them find their own voice,” Mr. McCollough explained.

Part of the station’s mission is to function as an educational facility, which is something they have focused on over the past year. “We’ve developed a whole computer lab, and we’ve started teaching courses,” Mr. McCollough noted, adding that he is “looking for feedback from the public regarding courses people would be interested in.”

Community-produced programs that air on the channel include a cooking show, critical commentary about the planet’s future, comedy, interviews with interesting local personalities, musical acts, movie reviews, and others.

In a monthly live show, Adam Bierman and Fahad Javaid team up for “Breezin’ with Bierman” to interview all kinds of people and “do something different, be funny, and think about something with entertainment savvy,” the program’s namesake remarked in an interview.

Mr. Bierman characterized the show as one of “topical talk,” and recent guests have included a realtor talking about the housing market; Tom Nesi, the author of Poison Pills, which is about the Vioxx drug scandal; chef Anthony Pierrard, who makes Gillian’s Gourmet marinara sauce found in local groceries, and a host of other characters including professors, producers, and politicians.

“Breezin’ with Bierman” also features area musicians as live guests in a segment coordinated by Mr. Javaid, who appears on the show as a character called the Captain.

Aside from the interview and musical act, Mr. Bierman and Mr. Javaid offer up commentary about all things contemporary, as well as their own lives. At their last screening, Mr. Bierman took some time to sing to his wife while Mr. Javaid provided backup vocals. “I make all types of comments on the show,” remarked Mr. Bierman, who joked, “It’s very liberating not knowing what you’re going to say next.”

Having grown up in Princeton (PHS Class of ’78), and travelled all over the world (“I’ve been to 44 states and 30 countries”), Mr. Bierman heard about the local cable-access station when he returned home, and thought, “Why can’t I just do a show? I was on WPHS years ago doing a show, so this is like Part II. There’s a second act!

“I think it’s irreverent, and it’s funny,” Mr. Bierman asserted, adding, “I deliver my id.” Characterizing the importance of community television as rooted in its democratic nature, he said that “if TV30 should become somewhat of a force and if it’s watched, it could have a lot to communicate about the town.”

Mr. McCollough expressed similar sentiments, saying “I’ve always been fascinated by the process of regular folks making television.” His own enchantment with the medium happened as he “went to college to study television because I thought it was going to be an easy major … but it didn’t turn out that way,” he said with a laugh.

Having worked at a number of cable-access stations before arriving at PCTV in 2005, Mr. McCollough has also made feature-length documentaries about social justice issues ranging from gentrification to the prison system.

The instruments of video and television were a source of early intrigue for Mr. McCollough, who joked, “I used to fantasize about being a punk rock musician, back when everyone seemed to have a recording studio, but then video equipment started becoming cheap, and I thought … a TV camera is going to become more punk than a guitar, so I decided to start with that.”

He finds “the technology, and how it is that people can use technology to have voice” particularly piquant.

“Breezin’ with Bierman” airs live on the last Friday of every month at 8 p.m. on Comcast channel 30 or Verizon FiOS 45, and is rebroadcast on Fridays at 8. Princeton Community Television can be reached at (609) 252-1963 or at

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