By ASHLEY HELMS
In 1991, the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Community Televi-sion station aired a segment called “Moon over Mamaroneck,” in which a camera crew broadcast a repetitious view of a full moon shining. Residents were invited to call in and tell personal stories about howling at the moon or other nighttime shenanigans. Some callers even howled into the phone during the ensuing broadcast.
The program ran for hours, and some LMC-TV staff still consider the segment to be one of its wackiest on record. That same year, however, LMC-TV produced 618 other original programs at its facilities.
Wacky or not, LMC-TV has flourished, and, on Oct. 24,, it celebrated its 30th birthday as the Sunny Award for exceptional community service was given to longtime station supporter Elaine Chapnick.
The reception was held at the Beach Point Club on Rushmore Avenue and was attended by virtually all of Mamaroneck and Larchmont’s local community leaders.
The Sunny Award is named after one of LMC-TV’s founders, former station board president Sunny Goldberg.
Chapnick was an outreach coordinator who pushed for local community television since LMC-TV’s inception. She was on the committee that negotiated the original cable agreement that created LMC-TV and served on its first Board of Directors.
Janet Bear, the LMC-TV dinner chairwoman, said that Chapnick has been continuously involved in the organization and it’s that type of involvement that is the essence of the Sunny Award.
“She’s been a super-duper volunteer in all aspects for the last 30 years,” Bear said.
Also, special recognition was awarded to Eileen Mason at the reception for her dedication to LMC-TV for the last three decades. In 1984, Mason produced her first show, called “It’s Your Community,” which can still be seen today with monthly updates.
Before the station was founded in 1983, there wasn’t a channel connecting the Town of Mamaroneck and the villages of Larchmont and Mamaroneck. The idea was to create a unique, tri-municipal cable station that would bring the communities together. Goldberg said it took almost two years to get Larchmont and the Town and Village of Mamaroneck to come together on the idea, but residents were thrilled about having a local access television station.
When the founders were negotiating for a station with UA-Columbia, now Cablevision, they were told that a newly built TV studio in White Plains could be LMC-TV’s home base. Michael Witsch, one of the original station founders, said about 20 other television studios were sharing the space and all of the productions were to be under UA-Columbia’s control.
LMC-TV declined to use the space and, after a series of forums educating the public of the importance of public access television, UA-Columbia offered three public access channels to the station along with an $85,000 grant for studio equipment. LMC-TV eventually settled in Mamaroneck High School, but, according to Witsch, the Mamaroneck Board of Education wasn’t thrilled with the idea.
Witsch was a Mamaroneck High School teacher at the time of the station’s move into the school.
“But I said, ‘this is the community.’ I was surprised by their [feelings],” Witsch said.
LMC-TV leaders understand the importance of community-focused television, with some focused on its ability to allow residents to direct their own programs.
Television is narrowly defined as a world where you sit, watch and consume, said Joe Windish, former LMC-TV executive director. Instead, the station was founded with the idea that it would give the community the ability to control their own content.
“It’s about giving you the chance to produce and consume,” he said.
Today, anyone can pitch a show, series or event coverage idea
Goldberg recalled a show created by local middle and high school students called “A Twist on Trash” in which they made outfits out of recycled material. Everything from municipal meetings and election debates to birthday parties have been broadcast on LMC-TV.
“It’s about neighbors meeting neighbors,” Goldberg said. “If your son has a baseball game, you can watch it at home in your pajamas.”