About VCAM: mission : : history : : staff : : board of directors : : contact
15 began as humbly as any access channel might. A group of concerned
and interested citizens approached the cable operator, at that
time Cox Cable, to ask for equipment and airtime. There was
no equipment, aside from an old 3/4 inch Sony VTR tucked away
in a closet. But, there was channel space available on Channel
8, an ABC affiliate from Poland Springs, ME. Using only time
made available by non-duplication protection, a limited amount
of programming was cablecast. Of course, this sparked some interest
in the community and led to more inquiries and more programming
the need grew, it became apparent to Cox Cable that a more structured
and formal approach would be needed. Studio space was carved
out of a corner of the warehouse and garage and a full time
channel coordinator was hired.
it was built, they did come. One full-time staff person began
work in February of 1985. By March, large-scale productions,
such as the annual Essex Rotary All-Star Hockey Classic
and note-by-note coverage of the Discover Jazz Festival, were
undertaken. In September, the first regular series, Performing
Arts Preview, was produced in the public access studio
and joined the other regularly produced series, BHS HiLites,
which was submitted weekly by Burlington H.S. students. This
was quickly followed by Delaney on Vermont, with State
Senator Dennis Delaney, The VNA Presents, a home healthcare
program, and Movin’ Up the Mountain, produced by Community
volume and diversity of public access programming was stimulating
to other, similar groups and soon Channel 8 had several inspirational
programs, ArtWorks, an art exhibit program as a complement
piece to the Performing Arts Preview, a large amount
of coverage of local political activities and a number of talk
shows, including Loophole, a program that showcased
the work of local filmmakers and video producers.
increase awareness of public access television, build viewership
and stimulate community awareness, the public access channel
teamed up with the Essex Education Center’s student video club
to create the Summer Video Institute. A select group
of students received intensive training in the workings of all
the remote and post-production equipment and then used that
training to create short-form promotional programs for area
non-profit organizations (The majority of the students who participated
in the Summer Video Institute went on to study mass communication
in college and several now work in that field).
a trained core of volunteers and a growing interest in unique
local programming, public access was ready for the next television
challenge—live programming. Teaming up with noted local journalist
Peter Freyne, public access produced a series of live Select
Board candidates forums. Each night, candidates from a different
ward would answer questions from a panel of local journalists
and then field phoned-in questions. Live programming sparked
the interest of many in the community and to this day, Channel
15 boasts of a large number of “interactive” live programs.
next milestone in the history of VCAM came in October of 1987.
As part of the rebuild of the cable system, public access received
a dedicated channel, moving from Channel 8 to Channel 15, which
was made available for public access programs 24 hours per day.
At this time, the channel staff consisted of one full-time and
one part-time employee. The facility was available to producers
12 hours per day Monday-Friday and for 5 hours each Saturday.
Regular training classes were held each month and programming
grew from a nightly line-up of a few hours to a regular schedule
of airtimes from 2pm-11pm.
In the spring of 1993, Channel 15 moved into a new home on Kimball
Ave. in South Burlington. The new studio was twice as large
as the original and was accessible to the handicapped.
in 1993, the playback on programming on Channel 15 was computer
automated, thus allowing for programming to be played even during
those hours when staff was not working. Quickly, an interest
in “late night” types of programs mushroomed and many “David
Letterman” clones appeared.
a concerted effort to be responsive to viewers and the community,
the Advisory Board utilized this technological advance to create
specific times—no earlier than 10pm and no later than 6am—for
the airing of programs that might be questionable for younger
The 90s saw many more technological advances at channel 15 including
the first foray into the blossoming world of digital video.
the spring of 2000, channel 15's first channel coordinator,
Lori Murphy, left the channel to run a statewide tv channel
for Adelphia Cable. Later that year, Rob Chapman, a former channel
15 production technician, returned to Vermont to take the reigns
of the channel.
June of 2001, the channel 15 Advisory Board formed a community
based non-profit called Vermont Community Access Media. In October,
VCAM took over management of channel 15 from Adelphia Cable
and hired Rob and the rest of the channel 15 staff. In December,
VCAM moved out of the Kimball Avenue studio and into a beautiful
new space in the South End of Burlington (click here to view images of VCAM's control room layout).
May of 2003, VCAM began broadcasting government access programming
on channel 17 in the former Adelphia Small Cities communities.