July 10, 2019

“Fistful of Popcorn” Veterans Want To “Keep the Lights On”

To the Editor,

We’re Princeton Community Television veterans of long-standing who have a few words to say about the disturbing news that the lights may go out in the studio.

Let’s be frank: Princeton Community Television is not necessary. It’s not a school, or a bridge, or a municipal building. If it didn’t exist tomorrow, Princeton Township would not dry up and blow away. But as we’ve come to realize during the 21 years we’ve been producing and hosting A Fistful of Popcorn, our movie-discussion show, this small station has been a large part of the cultural mélange that makes Princeton unique.

Our main focus has been the small-budget independent features that are the bread and butter of the Princeton Garden Theatre and other local art cinemas. But we’ve also featured guests: local and international filmmakers have sat with us to talk about their work, discussions that had no other platform. We’ve promoted film festivals on the Princeton campus and in town, as well as the Trenton Film Festival, which has a growing worldwide reputation. In addition, we’ve been excited to promote each year several of Princeton Public Library’s film festivals, including its acclaimed Environmental Film Festival and its Student Film Festival.

We’ve heard it said that our show and others could simply be produced cheaply, in our own homes, and posted on YouTube. Technically, that’s so. But unlike YouTube, Princeton Community Television is a place with an identity. At a time when community get-togethers and face-to-face interactions are dwindling, the station is like the old general store with a cracker barrel around which the neighborhood gathered. It’s where life happens. It’s where Princeton assumes its real nature, beyond what the rest of the world thinks we are.

No, Princeton Community Television is not necessary. But it is vital. And without it, a light goes out and further dims the sense of community that binds us together. We need to keep the lights on.

Marilyn Campbell
Hamilton Avenue

Janet Stern
Monroe Lane

Bob Brown, Carol Welsch
Popcorn Vets