New leader steps in at Community Television for the Southern Berkshires

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LEE — An award-winning videographer is looking to enhance the quality and quantity of content at Community Television for the Southern Berkshires.

Richard Frederick, a Pittsfield native, wants CTSB-TV to go beyond covering town government, school boards and long-standing events, such as Fall Festival of Shakespeare and the Hometown Parade in Lee. A veteran of television news in Albany, N.Y., Springfield and Boston, he wants more community members to take advantage of the resource that is CTSB.

"I'm looking to have members go out and shoot photo essays or learn how to approach a positive public event," he said, "but I'm not making CTSB `newsy.'"

Frederick is looking for CTSB to be a training ground no matter the skill level of the people who enter the studio complex in the Quarry Hill Business Park off Route 102.

"We want to offer free classes on editing, shooting and show it's less intimidating than people think," he said. "I think there is creativity in everyone."

Frederick outlined his goals in a recent Eagle interview, five months after the CTSB board of directors hired him to succeed Leo Mahoney, who left the position last fall. After nearly 17 years in charge, Mahoney left behind a legacy of building a new studio, installing state-of-the-art equipment and expanding programming beyond the studio. CTSB serves Lee, Lenox, Stockbridge, Great Barrington and Sheffield.

Aside from the four paid staff, CTSB has 135 members who help cover municipal meetings, produce weekly shows and work in front of or behind the camera, or both.

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Frederick's broadcast career began in 1996, working at WWLP-TV (channel 22) in Springfield. He went west to shoot video for WTEN-TV and WNYT-TV in Albany. In 2002, he joined the staff at CNN-NY, winning a Peabody and DuPont awards for his coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

Frederick moved onto WHDH-TV news in Boston, before returning to WNYT for a five-year stint, winning an award for investigative journalism.

He considered a career change working in forensics — he even had interviews with the FBI and New York State Police. But then community television came calling.

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In 2017, he became the day-to-day leader of Dalton Community Television, guiding the station into the 21st century.

Frederick says he rebuilt the entire studio, making it all digital. He drew in more members to create local programming, replacing the canned material, and created a Facebook page. The experience gave him the confidence to handle multiple tasks at CTSB.

"It gave me the ability to create my own world," he said. "I did just about everything. I literally washed windows in the place."

Nevertheless, Frederick had some learn-by-doing at CTSB, overseeing the budget — he admits not being a numbers guy — and hiring a staff member under pressure.

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Two weeks before CTSB recorded the four-day Fall Festival of Shakespeare of high school performances at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, the operations manager left for another job. The vacancy jeopardized CTSB's biggest fundraiser, selling DVD copies of the shows to the general public.

Frederick was fortunate to find Nate Haney, a graduate of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, who was looking to move on from ESPN.

Haney had a lot to quickly learn about the logistical and technical end of CTSB, but it was worth it.

"I got my start in community television," he said. "Personally, I like Shakespeare, so it was fun right out of the gate."

The staff situation stabilized, Frederick's to-do list for 2020, includes launching a new and improved website, get more community members involved at CTSB and remain fiscally sound.

"We need to keep moving forward," he said, "like we'll be around another 50 years."

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com.


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