CTN Studios wins three more national awards

CTN Studios, the city of Coon Rapids’ cable television department, has won more national awards.

It is the recipient of three first-place awards in the 2012 Alliance for Community Media Hometown Media Awards.

That matches the three awards that CTN received in the 2011 national hometown media awards and since 2001, the studio has garnered more than 30 regional and national awards for its programming.

This year’s first-place honors came in the professional news category, professional sports entertainment category and professional live format category.

“These awards are truly an honor,” said Production Manager Eric Strouse.

What makes them even more special is that there were more than 1,000 entries from community cable channels across the country and in terms of programming, these are the best of the best, according to Strouse.

“The awards are important to staff who work very hard to produce top quality programs for the residents of Coon Rapids,” Strouse said.

The hometown media awards will be presented at the Alliance for Community Media’s national conference, which will take place in Chicago, Ill., in late July.

In past years, no member of the CTN staff has been to the national conference to receive its awards because of the distance involved, Strouse said.

Chicago is a lot closer so it’s possible a CTN staffer will travel to the conference this year for the awards presentation, he said.

“But that has not yet been decided,” Strouse said.

The news category award was for a compilation of segments chosen by News Director Steve Ericson that were cablecast in 2011 by CTN’s weekly news program, “CTN News.”

Some of the stories included school food shelves, spring  flooding predictions, Riverview Park meeting, former Viking Esera Tuaola’s visit to Anoka-Ramsey Community College and a feature on a Coon Rapids firefighter and his rehabilitation following a stroke, Ericson wrote in an e-mail.

According to Strouse, the judging criteria was two-fold – first, how the news stories related to and impacted the community and second, the technical side of the program – writing, editing, lighting, sound and production values.

The professional sports entertainment category award was for CTN’s “Sportsnight” program, which airs live from the CTN studio during the high school sports season.

The half-hour show is anchored by Joe Yund, who also does the writing and helps coordinate the show, and Howie Shapiro with Neil Hennen handling the technical/editing duties.

“The show keeps viewers up to date on the Coon Rapids High School sports teams and also shows video from recent games,” Strouse said.

Hennen, who is known as “Highlight,” shoots the video and edits the content for the shows, he said.

Indeed, through streaming Hennen can send the edited video to Yund at his home for him to be able to write the script without having to come to the studio, except for the live show, according Strouse.

The professional live format category award was for a cablecast of the Coon Rapids versus Blaine girls’ high school hockey game Jan. 29, 2011.

Not only was it the first live outdoor broadcast of a hockey game undertaken in  the middle of winter, it took place in St. Paul, not in Coon Rapids, Strouse said.

Besides the cold weather, the cablecast presented some challenges for the CTN crew, who had to link up with St. Paul Neighborhood News cable studio to provide the cable access from Lake Phalen, where the game was played, to the Comcast fiber ring and then to CTN, he said.

And St. Paul had not used a cable drop for an outside broadcast before, Strouse said.

As it was, the ability to link up with St. Paul Neighborhood News enabled CTN to show activities of the St. Paul Winter Carnival that were taking place the same weekend as the Saturday hockey game, he said.

And several other cable television access stations in the Twin Cities carried the Coon Rapids-Blaine girls’ hockey game live along with the Winter Carnival events, according to Strouse.

“It went over very well and despite the cold, the crew had a lot of fun,” Strouse said.

And when Coon Rapids girls hosted Blaine girls in  what has become an annual outdoor hockey game earlier this year, this time at the new outdoor refrigerated sheet at the Coon Rapids Ice Center, CTN was there to televise the game live, he said.

CTN Studios has five full-time staff and 20 part-time workers.

In the last week, “CTN News” recorded its entire program on location at Sand Creek Park to promote the city’s 4th of July celebration, the first time the news show has been recorded outside the studio using the mobile truck.

In addition, CTN cablecast the 4th of July parade July 2 live for the first time, using wireless transmission equipment it has been testing over the past few weeks.

The city began producing cable TV programming in May 1986.

At the beginning of 1997, Coon Rapids pulled out of an eight-city cable commission and became a single cable TV community television entity.

This allowed the city to expand programming to three separate channels, Channel 15, 16 and 19.

Channel 15 has community programming including news, sports, concerts and feature shows; Channel 16 focuses on government programming including city, county and state issues; and Channel 19 showcases programming from other access stations as well as other professional programming emphasizing education and wellness.

CTN Studios moved into a new state-of-the-art facility on the campus of the Coon Rapids City Center in November 2001.

The building is over 8,000 square feet and has two studios with a central control room, master control, a voice-over room, tape storage room, four edit suites and an office area, as well as garage space to protect its mobile trucks and equipment.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]