Follow The Wire continues its series of articles highlighting the unique local programming that Armstrong offers. Armstrong Local Programming gives viewers access to local sports, local government and a deeper look at places you may not know are in your back yard. Our second guest writer is Connellsville, PA Local Programming Coordinator, Seth Prentice.
My name is Seth Prentice and I’ve been a Local Programming Coordinator for Armstrong for the last five years. I produce various types of shows for our Southwest Pennsylvania system and have a few favorite shows/events that I’ve been lucky to be a part of since 2009. There have been many events, musicians and celebrities to come to this area and put on something that I felt viewers would want to watch.
One of the great parts of this job is finding interesting shows that are local and get people interested. The two that mean the most to me are “Around The Town with host Marilyn Forbes” and “Hometown Sports with Vern Ohler.” Marilyn and Vern are both from the Southwest Pennsylvania region and spent their whole lives here. They’re very respected in the community and just made sense to bring them in to help host shows that would draw an audience. Around The Town has been on the air since October 2010 and I’ve picked 3 of my favorite episodes to share that meant something to me. Hometown Sports has been around since September 2010 but Vern joined in February 2011 when I needed a play by play announcer for the Connellsville Boys Basketball Playoff run. He jumped in and has been a vital part of the success for the sporting event broadcasts. I picked 2 of the most memorable games we did over the years and will share those as well.
Here are my top 5 memorable shows:
5. Around The Town “Bee Keeping”
Marilyn and I came up with the concept of Around The Town to be about interesting people, places, and events in the local area. The bee keeping idea came up really early in our pre-production meetings for the show as what could we do on camera that people would really want to see. Just so happens she had interviewed a local gentleman who raises bees at a nearby farm. He offered to put both of us in bee suits and we went out to film. Our Creative Service Team was there to capture the event for a promotional mailing that went out to all of our customers to inform them about our local programming. I’m pretty sure I was giving everyone a great laugh that day as I was scared to death of the thousands of bees flying around me but it made for an awesome show. Might be one of the top 3 episodes to our fans of the show!
4. Hometown Sports “Southmoreland Scotties at Charleroi Cougars October 18th
Vern and I have a great time covering the local sporting events and planning the schedule for all of the games that we cover. Since 2010, we’ve covered over 110 sporting events for 5 different school districts and 2 colleges (California High School, California University, Connellsville, Geibel, Mount Pleasant, Penn State Fayette, and Southmoreland). We started off just doing football and boys/girls basketball but we’ve been able to expand our coverage. For the Fall sports we cover football, volleyball, boys and girls soccer. In the winter we cover wrestling, ice hockey, boys and girls basketball. Just a few weeks ago we finally tried our hands at baseball and have now been able to produce 2 high school baseball games for our community. It feels great being able to let parents, grandparents and the athletes the chance to see themselves play on television. The student sections have actually gotten into being on Hometown Sports as they’ve made banners welcoming us and started chants during timeouts.
This game is the prime reason why we wanted to cover sports in our area. Southmoreland and Charleroi had growing pains in 2013 but their rosters were getting much needed experience for future seasons. This game came down to the final 3 minutes as most fans left once an amazing touchdown pass was caught. Too bad they missed what happened next as this was one of the best endings we’ve ever been a part of. Enjoy!
3. Around The Town “Bear Tagging”
This episode actually almost didn’t happen. We tried for 2 years to get a date scheduled to film with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to let us go out with them when they would check the bear dens and tag the mothers to make sure all of their vitals were ok. Marilyn and I went up in March 2013 to the local office and sat for 4 hours waiting for our chance. Here the mother bear ran and they had to track her down to put her back with her cubs. Everyone involved felt so bad that they rescheduled us for later in the week which we were just barely able to fit in our schedule. One of the best experiences in my life going to film with the Game Commission and being nose to nose with a live bear. Needless to say when her eyes stared back at me, I had the near death experience but it was totally worth the wait!
2. Hometown Sports “WPIAL Class A Girls Basketball Playoff Game California vs. North Catholic February 22nd
I haven’t had much success with local area teams advancing in the playoffs but I thought my Alma Mater might be the best chance we have since I started at Armstrong. California was a very young team and one would have thought the clock was ticking on the Cinderella team. They played the game of their lives. California hits a buzzer beater shot before halftime to go in with a lead and then the last 1:10 of the game is what makes high school sports so exciting. California is down by 5 and their hopes come down to missed foul shots, clutch plays, and some lucky bounces. This would be the biggest victory in the history of the program and would cause a town to jump on their bandwagon. What a great group of young women to film and get to know during the season. I wish all of them the best in their lives as they’ll always remember this game!
1. Around The Town “World Trade Center”
This has to be my favorite show that I’ve ever had the chance to film, work on, or be a part of. Connellsville Patriots is a local non-profit organization that sends packages to troops overseas and hosts many events to recognize local Veterans. Linda Shearer, founder of the Connellsville Patriots, approached me about possibly going with a group to film them picking up a piece of the World Trade Center. They were awarded a section as they do so much in the local community and had to make sure that it is on display so that everyone can come see it. Inside this episode, we got to show the entire story from beginning to end. On November 16th
, 2013 the memorial site was finally dedicated inside the newly renovated Connellsville Area High School. It just so happens to be in the most recent Local Programming Spot as well as our Armstrong in the Community spot. Hope you enjoy this and never forget September 11th