LEE -- Community Television for the Southern Berkshires has started broadcasting from its new $1 million state-of-the-art studio and training facility.

And with the onset of those hot summer days, the timing couldn't be better, according to station manager Leo Mahoney.

Not only does the new facility offer more space and upgrades in technology, it also features central air conditioning.

"We never had the luxury to keep the studio cool," he said. "The talent would always feel uncomfortable."

As of Monday, the station was broadcasting from its new home on a two-acre parcel in the Quarry Hill Business Park off Route 102, just east of its current studios along the state highway, Mahoney said.

All new studio equipment has been installed, but Mahoney said production of about 20 shows that are pre-recorded at CTSB won't resume until July 11. He noted live broadcasts of local board of selectmen and school committee meetings will return in mid-July. Currently, the municipal gatherings are only being recorded for playback at later dates.

First signed on in 1989, CTSB broadcasts government, educational and independently produced programs over three channels on the Time Warner Cable system serving Lee, Lenox, Stockbridge, Great Barrington and Sheffield.

The new community television studios are outfitted with $216,000 worth of high-definition cameras and other equipment that will improve the quality of its in-house productions, CTSB officials said.

"We have an all-digital control room which we didn't before -- now we're completely high-definition," said Will Ryan, president of the CTSB board of directors.

The new 4,000-square-foot studio complex replaces CTSB's original 3,000-square-foot building -- a converted garage -- that it rented across from the former Lee Bowling Lanes.

The larger building means more room to train people how to produce local programming created both in studio and on location.

Ryan expects the state-of-the-art facility will add more volunteers to CTSB fold.

"I think we will be completely overwhelmed with people who want to learn," he said.

The nonprofit station currently employs three full-time staff members and has an annual operating budget of $300,000.

CTSB is funding the project with an $800,000 loan from Lee Bank and $216,000 in capital money from Time Warner. The cable company investment is part of the license agreement the five towns recently renewed with Time Warner to continue servicing the South County communities.

CTSB officials anticipate two decades of savings toward the project and a 5 percent take of Time Warner's television revenue will help pay off the loan in 10 years rather than 20.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.