Photo Gallery | CTSB Open House in Lee

LEE -- Mike Putnam feels inspired by the Community Television for the Southern Berkshires' new $1 million state-of-the-art studio and training facility.

As president of Northern Berkshire Community Television Corp., Putnam recently toured the CTSB broadcast complex, which could serve as a model for NBCTC's own new studio set-up planned for a former car dealership building on Union Street in North Adams.

"We're trying to get ideas for what equipment we want to buy," he said. "I do like [the CTSB] control room -- ours is cluttered with no room to move.


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Putnam and NBCTC Executive Director Dave Fabiano were among the dozens of people who attended a daylong open house to showcase CTSB's new home in the Quarry Hill Business Park off Route 102, just east of its former studios along the state highway.

Since CTSB made the switch in mid-June, viewers, CTSB members and staff noticed an immediate improvement in the technical quality of the on-air programming.

"I've heard from people in all five towns that they have seen a change in the pictures and audio -- very crisp," said CTSB station manager Leo Mahoney.

CTSB Operations Manager Erica Spizz shows off new studio cameras to Dave Fabiano, executive director of Northern Berkshire Community Television Corp. on
CTSB Operations Manager Erica Spizz shows off new studio cameras to Dave Fabiano, executive director of Northern Berkshire Community Television Corp. on Wednesday. (Ben Garver / Berkshire Eagle Staff / photos.berkshireeagle.com)

"The technology under this hood is on par with what you find in a commercial setting," added CTSB board member Al Saldarini.

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 has boosted the quality of its in-house productions, CTSB officials said.

"Theoretically, we could do a Skype call to incorporate into some of our shows, but we haven't tested it yet," said CTSB operations manager Erica Spizz.

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.

"It's a huge improvement, a custom fit for the Southern Berkshires," said Shawn Sere, CTSB executive director from 1993-1998. Sere, hired as a consultant for the CTSB project, is the education coordinator and chief engineer at Pittsfield Community Television (PCTV).

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

The nonprofit station funded its 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. NBCTC hopes to have a similar agreement with Time Warner for its studio upgrade, as part of a license renewal in North County.

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.