PEPPERELL -- Dave Pease and Richard Potts are used to spending time behind the camera.
Pease and Potts are two of the faces behind Pepperell's Channel 15, which airs town meetings, community events and other locally produced content.
The public access programing, Potts said, provides an invaluable service to residents.
"With the broad and repeated schedule, if you're concerned about something, if you want to follow something, you have access," Potts said.
Beyond simply covering meetings, the channel also shows local events, such as concerts at the library and town parades. A living history series captured the stories of some town residents.
"There are so many things going on in town that are fascinating. People have fabulous stories to tell," Potts said.
A video on-demand service on Pepperell Community Media's website also allows viewers to watch much of the local content at their own convenience.
The channel operates as a nonprofit corporation, funded by a grant from Charter Communications resulting from a 2.5 percent surcharge on the cable television bills of Pepperell residents, Potts said.
Potts and Pease said their involvement began in 2011, when they realized that the existing channel was in need of improvements.
"We started asking questions and found out the license agreement was about to expire," Potts said.
They joined the town's cable advisory committee, recruited volunteers and set out to upgrade the basic content that was already being played.
By using royalty-free music and adding in open source content from other stations, they've been able to move beyond only locally produced content, while still focusing on stories that are of interest to Pepperell residents.
Armed with an office space full of furniture and equipment that was gifted from other town departments and surrounding towns' public access stations, the pair are working with a group of volunteers to provide the best local programming they can.
"There's a wealth of experience and knowledge out there that we're tapping into," Potts said.
The system's set-up allows the station to broadcast live from Town Hall, the Lawrence Library, the Senior Center and Nissitissit Middle School, with the ability for the live content to override whatever is scheduled to play.
"We're interested in making sure Channel 15 has the absolute best quality possible with the infrastructure we have," Potts said.
For both, the public access channel provided a way to spend their time after retirement from careers in engineering and computer science. That experience gave them the technical know-how to keep things at Channel 15 running smoothly.
"We're building this from nothing, so a lot of time is going into just the engineering," Potts said.
Pease, a paid employee whose salary is funded through the grant, has also brought his services to Pepperell's northern neighbor, working part-time in Brookline, N.H., on that town's public access network.
He said he loves the challenges of creating content for the people of Pepperell and surrounding community.
"It's an opportunity to do things you've never done before," Pease said.
Potts said one of his goals is to involve local students more in Channel 15, by streaming performances from North Middlesex Regional High School and encouraging students to get involved in the production side.
Potts stressed that the content is not up to them to regulate -- anyone interested in contributing programming is welcome to as long as someone in town is willing to sponsor it.
"Our goal here is to be a resource to the town," Potts said.
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