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Professor Plans Public Access TV Station

July 12, 2010

By early next year, West Chester Borough should have a new public access television station courtesy of the Mayor’s office and West Chester communication studies professor Michael Boyle.

Under the Borough’s contract with Verizon Cable, the cable company is required to provide for up to three public access stations. Since WCU students already run a campus-only station (the studio is in the basement of the new Brandywine residence hall) and the Borough has no equipment or other resources to operate a TV studio, Borough Council agreed to let the University establish a public access station. The target launch date is Jan. 15, 2011.

Boyle, who teaches video production, called the progression “a natural step” for the University to produce programming that would interest audiences beyond campus.

“It will be an opportunity for us to present things we’re doing on campus … and to make things intended for the community as well,” he told the Daily Local News.

He’s interested in improving community relations, in particular town/gown relations, through television. A public access channel has the potential to strengthen civic and cultural ties between students and neighbors and connect various segments of a community as more local voices get on the air.

Boyle sees opportunities for students both in and beyond the classroom, including internships and student involvement through various student-run organizations that might oversee the shows. Students in his introductory and advanced video courses will be able to showcase their content on the channel and gain hands-on experience with all aspects of video production.

“The goal is to create a model much like the Quad or WCUR [the student-run newspaper and radio station],” Boyle continued, “whereby students oversee the operations of the television station taking on the many different positions needed to keep a real television station going, ranging from day-to-day productions to marketing to management.

“The bonus is that they will now have a larger audience for their productions.”

Michael Boyle researches mass media and social protest, news coverage and implications of social conflicts and controversies, information seeking, and emotional responses to media. His teaching areas include quantitative research methods, mass communication theory and effects, television and video production, and mass media practices, including professional and broadcast writing. He received his bachelor’s degree from East Stroudsburg University, his master’s from the University of Delaware and his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Prior to his joining the WCU faculty in 2006, he was an assistant professor at Wichita State University.