PIQUA — Come the first of January, WOTVC Piqua Channel 5 is changing its financial structure in order to better make ends meet, as well as calling for a renewed sense of support for the station.
“WOTVC is really a community station and is about providing information and education,” City Manager and WOTVC board member Gary Huff said. “I think that’s the purpose in why it needs to be supported by the community itself.”
Crunching the numbers
The Western Ohio Television Consortium (WOTVC), or Piqua Channel 5, is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization comprised of the city of Piqua, Piqua City Schools, Edison State Community College, Upper Valley Career Center, and the Piqua Public Library. These five partners are where the station receives approximately 60 percent of their funding, which includes in-kind contributions.
WOTVC’s total budget is approximately $112,000. According to Welker, the city of Piqua is their biggest contributor, from whom they receive $60,000 a year. Their four other partners then contribute approximately $3,000 each.
The remaining 40 percent of their budget comes from sponsors in the community. The station needs to be receiving at least $40,000 from sponsors, but they are currently only receiving between $23,000 and $28,000.
“Last year was the toughest year for us financially,” WOTVC Executive Director Jennifer Welker said
Currently, the station offers membership packages to sponsors, and the costs range between $100 and $5,000 annually. The packages include services such as submitting programs for broadcast, using WOTVC’s equipment and facilities, a custom page on their community bulletin board, social media promotion, all the way up to a certain number of hours for video production services.
In 2017, there will still be a variety of memberships available, but video production services will now have fees attached to them.
“The fees are very generous,” Welker said. Those fees break down to about $50 per hour per camera and mic needed for filming and $100 per hour of editing raw footage.
Videographer and Editor Jacob Warling compared these costs to what it would cost at a major television outlet, which would be between $4,000 and $10,000 for a 30-minute program. Warling also emphasized that WOTVC is a fully equipped station and has the same capabilities as major outlets.
“We are on par with the major news outlets,” Warling said. “It’s not your typical access station.”
The community can also get involved, whether sponsoring a program or donating to the station.
“We definitely have to boost community donations,” Welker said. “We need more involvement. We need more support.”
Looking behind the scenes
The station is located at Edison, where they can work with college students as well as students at the Upper Valley Career Center and Piqua High School due to their close proximity. That closeness can come in handy in the form of bringing volunteers, as Welker and Warling are the only paid staff.
“Volunteers are very important to our nonprofit organization,” Welker said.
Warling also reached out to students from the International College of Broadcasting looking for opportunities in an unpaid internship.
“It’s broadened their experience,” Welker said.
“We’re also offering that out into the community as well,” Warling said.
While many of their volunteers can come in the form of teens and young adults, the age range of their volunteers can go up to people in their 60s. In a good month, they will see about 20 different volunteers, but they have five or six steady volunteers.
Promoting the positive
From sporting events to church services, informational program to creative series, and business highlights to local meetings, WOTVC is there to provide the community with a high volume of positive programs with local ties.
“It’s a resource and also a benefit to the community,” Huff said. “It’s a tremendous community resource, and we would hope the community would support it in order to keep it viable.”
“We’re always looking to promote the positive news of Piqua,” Welker said. “There’s really nothing off-limits as far as community programming.”
WOTVC creates programming for the animal shelter, athletic programs, parades, service announcements from government officials, Riverside Developmental Disabilities, and more. WOTVC also has eight church services that they broadcast. WOTVC runs approximately 1,800 public service announcements a year that run on slides as part of their community bulletin between programming.
WOTVC also works with businesses and organizations, creating informational pieces that that they can broadcast.
“We’ve done a lot of work with Hartzell Industries,” Welker said. A couple examples included a history piece that they did on the company for their employees. WOTVC has also worked with them to create instructional videos on their products.
WOTVC is not able to run promotional commercials about specific purchasing deals for businesses to broadcast on Channel 5, but businesses and organizations can still utilize WOTVC’s services to create those commercials that the businesses can then run on different channels and on social media. WOTVC is hoping to reach more local businesses to take part in the variety services that WOTVC can provide them.
“Video marketing is a huge step up for companies,” Warling said.
Documenting the community
WOTVC is also documenting local history, much of which will be archived at the Piqua Public Library. Other pieces become mementos for people in the community who purchase duplications of a program for $15 per copy.
“This is history,” Welker said about their programming.
“It is a voice to the people,” Warling said.
One example is the Miami County Fair, which is one of the WOTVC’s most popular programs as they are the only local access station out there filming. WOTVC does not demographics available through Time Warner Cable, but their most viewed post on YouTube was of a tractor pull at the fair that received 22,000 views.
“They’re not events that can be recreated,” Welker said. “We do tons of recreations … those are keepsakes.”
WOTVC has also been able to impact families on personal level, such as last year when WOTVC had footage of three girls from a dance event — Jakia Jones, 13, Dionanna Bishop, 14, and Dejah Bishop, 13 — who later died from carbon monoxide poisoning at their rental home on Elm Street in Troy in February 2015. Welker said that WOTVC was able to provide that footage to the girls’ families at no cost.
“That was some of the last known footage of those girls,” Welker said.
Welker said that they also hear from people from out of town, including family members in different states and community members far from home.
“We get a lot of feedback from people in the military,” Welker said. For those military service people, the local programming is a “piece of home,” Welker said.
Overall, while facing financial challenges, WOTVC is still optimistic about their future and is encouraging the public to utilize them for the resource they are.
“It’s possible, and I’m excited,” Welker said about raising their needed funds. She added, encouragingly, “Step up. Support us.”
For more information, to donate, to get involved, or to seek WOTVC’s services, contact WOTVC at (937) 381-1546 or [email protected]
Reach Sam Wildow at [email protected] or (937) 451-3336