by Ron Cooper

Reno/Sparks, Nevada – John Asquaga’s Nugget Hotel welcomed 120 conference attendees for an information-filled two days (Oct. 15 & 16). The ACM Western States Region was joined by regional leadership from the Northwest, Southwest, Central, Northeast, and Mid-Atlantic regions. Access Sacramento Board and staff helped organize the event by serving as the “local” planning committee. Unfortunately, the Reno public access center closed about six-months ago due to a loss of funding.

Sylvia Strobel, ACM Executive Director spoke to the group in Friday’s opening plenary session, described her vision for the future of the ACM, and addressed questions from the attentive audience. National Board members Sue Buske, Kathy Bisbee, Todd Thayer, and others challenged the organization to redouble ACM efforts in support of our public policy and new membership efforts at the local, state, and national levels.

Vendor spokespersons introduced themselves at the extended lunch period. Representatives from Tightrope, Panasonic, TelVue, Sony, JVC, Broadcast Pix, Clear-Com and NewTek invited attendees to visit their booths and test their latest equipment – camera, switchers, and program management systems. Tom Walsh of Media Control Systems was honored by Region Chair J Robertson. MCS was the Gold Level conference underwriter and is a long standing supporter of regional activities. Ron Cooper, Access Sacramento Executive Director, moderated the vendor showcase.

Friday evening, conference attendees welcomed program producers to the beautiful poolside Terrace Room. Attendees cheered and applauded the 150 finalists in the Western Access Video Excellence (WAVE) awards ceremony. WAVE plaques were awarded in more than fifty different categories. Host of the event, J Robertson, thanked Xoe Huffman and Dan Vilalva from Community Media of the North Bay (Santa Rosa), for coordinating the WAVE event. The event organizers and conference track leaders included Sue Buske, Jan Janes, Autumn Labbe-Renault, Ericha Hager, and Ron Cooper. Access Sacramento staff, particularly Amy Lawrence and Michelle Barbaria, helped with the planning and registrations for the conference event.
Access Sacramento WAVE award winners included: Michelle Barbaria for the “Haiti Relief Telethon”; Frank Casanova for “Beatrice and the Bike Thief”; Laura Tapia for “11 Bravo Diaries”; and Jessica Vazquez for “Nightmare on K Street”. Finalists (top three in their categories) included two “Listen Up, Sacramento” episodes, an episode of “Livewire”, and “Playday” by Carrie Stroud.

In addition to the WAVE award winners, Access Sacramento Board Chair Carl Burton was honored with a “Brian Wilson Mentorship and Leadership Award”. The Wilson honor celebrates select folks in the Western region who demonstrate vision and leadership in the field of community media. Mr. Burton has served as Board Chair and active leader and spokesperson for Access Sacramento for more than nine years.
The Saturday keynote speaker was Gerry Lederer, the ACM voice at the FCC and in Congress. He emphasized serious damage has impacted hundreds of PEG channels around the country due in large part to the state-by-state Telco lobbying efforts implementing statewide cable franchises. Attendees were encouraged to continue to speak out to leaders at the local, state, and national levels. He then conducted a workshop with specific strategies and statistics designed to impress elected leaders with the value of PEG Access in communities throughout the nation. His workshop was one of sixteen panels in four different tracks. Many attendees remarked on the quality and breadth of information offered by the more than 40 panelists and individual speakers. Access Sacramento Board and staff participated in several workshops including “How to Improve Audio and Video in Your Access Productions” with Dev Singh and Clayton Moore and “Community Reporting in Diverse Communities” with Kristian Manoff, George Hall, and Ron Cooper.

Feedback from attendees was positive and planning was initiated for the National Conference next July in Tucson, AZ and then the next regional in San Jose CA. in October, 2011. The ACM Western Region appreciates the vendors, attendees, speakers, and the many individuals and organizations who contributed to the success of the conference including the help and assistance of Access Sacramento volunteer producers, staff, and Board members. For details, go to