Mashpee TV Assesses First Year, Hires New Station Manager

Mashpee TV has been on the air for a year now, and its board of directors delivered a candid assessment of the operation to the town’s board of selectmen this week. It also announced the hiring of Peter E. Zawadzki, former executive director of Brookline Interactive Group, as the organization’s new full-time station manager.

The gist of the 18-page report is that Mashpee TV has been understaffed during its first year, and that its extensive coverage and focus on community events had caused other goals and activities, including training sessions and local origination programming, to be neglected. It also states that the number of volunteers and members from the community has been disappointing.

The organization also hints in the report that it may be seeking additional funding to purchase equipment via an adjustment of the current split of Comcast fees between the town and Mashpee TV. Operating funds for Mashpee TV are currently derived from pass-through funds from Comcast through a contract with the board of selectmen. These funds are based on a percentage of cable television fees paid to Comcast directly by subscribers in Mashpee.

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“My take on the report is that they have been lacking staff and needed to bring in someone to take Mashpee TV to a new level, get it up-and-running, and recruit more volunteers and members. I do want them, though, to be involved in covering town events, and if they need to go in another direction for business interests, we need assurance that town activities and municipal coverage won’t suffer,” selectman Michael R. Richardson said.

Despite some setbacks, James Vaccaro, president of Mashpee TV, remains optimistic.

“Considering we started from nothing, I would consider our first year a success,” he said.

The report also acknowledged that John T. Gamache, who has served as Mashpee TV’s facilities coordinator for most of the first year, had resigned from his position earlier this month. Mr. Gamache had become a well-known “front man” and ambassador for the organization at community events and municipal government meetings.

“I am glad to have had the opportunity to be a part of Mashpee TV for the past 11 months. I’m proud of the work we produced and appreciative of the community support. The time came for me to leave Mashpee TV, but I wish the organization success in the future,” Mr. Gamache said in a written statement.

In an interview at the Mashpee TV studio earlier this week, Mr. Zawadzki, a Sandwich resident who has been a consultant to the organization in the past, discussed some of his plans for the community media center.

“My plans are to get the facility back on track and going in the right direction by being a resource for residents and nonprofits in town, not only for broadcast, but technology, too,” he said, adding that he hopes to open a computer lab in the future for residents to learn digital editing and video production.

Mr. Zawadzki also said that he intends to relaunch Mashpee TV in November with a grand reopening of the studio and meeting space, which he hopes will become a true community media and technology center.

He envisions the Mashpee TV facility on Industrial Drive as hosting film screenings, documentary meetup groups, and generally becoming an open space where people can come to learn. Going a step further he added that he would like to see Mashpee TV offer more local origination programming, a consistent class schedule, and perhaps become a “documentary incubator.”

“It has been difficult to keep a head of steam going with the frequent management changes in the last year. We now need to market ourselves to the community. We have a lot planned,” Mr. Zawadzki said.

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