The History of the Central States Region of the
National Federation of Local Cable Programers/Alliance for Community Media

Written by: Hap Haasch, C/S Region Information Services Committee

It is no mere coincidence that the National Federation of Local Cable Programmers (NFLCP), now known as the Alliance for Community Media (ACM), was formed in the heart of the Central States Region – Centerville, OH to be specific. This region has consistently served the organization with leadership and programmatic support that continues to this day.

    1. Let's get some of the factual details out of the way before we get to the REALLY interesting stuff:The Central States Region did not exist when the NFLCP was initially formed in 1976. However, sometime in late 1977 or early 1978 (our institutional memory is sketchy about this as our founders have reached and/or passed middle age), the Central States Region was created from a geographic reallocation to include its present territory of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.
    2. The Central States Region has been an incubator of sorts for some of the best known talent in our field, including such notable characters as: Ric Hayes - presently Chair of the ACM's National Board of Directors; Dirk Koning - internationally renowned "guru" on things community media; Sue Buske - Miami Valley Cable Council, Executive Director of the NFLCP, and now a leading consultant in our field; Randy VanDalsen – of WELM in East Lansing, MI fame; Carl Kucharski - ACTV-21 in Columbus then on to Somerville, MA and consulting assignments; Greg Vawter - Waycross Community TV in suburban Cincinnati who is now leading a major government access operation in Hillsborough County, Florida; Bob Devine – current President of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH, who provided inspiration and vision from a respectable academic viewpoint in times of crisis and uncertainty; and of course Roxie Cole of Dayton Community Access whose spirit still presides over all that we do. There are many, many others who have been instrumental in making this region a success, including: Bob Mulbach, Steve Fortriede, Martha Schmidt, Frank Jamison, Ross Rowe, Don Langely, Don Smith, Judy Crandall. To those I may have missed, you know who you are and how important you are to us.
    3. The Central States Region has been recognized by the national organization as "Best Region" on numerous occasions, and we haven't let this go to our heads…for the most part.
    4. The Central States Region has annually conducted two regional conferences (Spring, Fall) under a system of rotating the conference sites all around the region and incorporating a variety of access centers into the hosting pool.
    5. The Central States Region also conducts the Philo T. Farnsworth Video Festival (winners recognized at the Fall regional conference) and the Roxie L. Cole Leadership Award (winner recognized at the Spring regional conference).
    6. The Central States Region has frequently stepped forward to serve the organization as a whole by providing: funding for expansion of the Community Media Review; funding for the first membership directory; a loan to cover national office expenses during a cash flow crisis; and management of the Hometown Video Festival when another agent was unavailable (under the inspired leadership of Steve Fortriede and the good people at Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, IN).

The history of the Central States region is far more complicated than any list of accomplishments or chronological review of important moments. Our history is in fact more appropriately described as the "fabric" woven by quite an eclectic mixture of personalities and circumstances, for example:

    1. Monthly potluck spaghetti dinners were the precursor to the formation of the Michigan Chapter.
    2. The Central States Board has met in a variety of curious venues, including: several monasteries, a retirement center for nuns, a Motel 6 located in a rather dubious neighborhood, cabins in a variety of State Parks, and the traditional Christmas Dinner at Lake Wawassee, IN.
    3. With the mantra "work hard, play hard", the region has occasionally been the scene for raucous post conference parties (the list is long, but Michigan City, IN, Troy, MI, Richmond, IN, and Lansing, MI come immediately to mind in "the modern era" -- there's no telling what the venerable ones did in the old days). The names of the culprits responsible for such shenanigans will remain confidential, but rest assured, they are still part of the conference planning process!

Although the Central States Region takes pride in having provided solid leadership and laudable good deeds for our members and the ACM as a whole, there is something far more important about what we are doing. It has something to do with individual commitment to mission and a sense of "doing the right thing". In essence, the Central States Region of the ACM has developed a culture of people caring about mission AND each other. THAT is what makes the C/S Region special to those of us lucky enough to have served in any official capacity. It is also why many of us have chosen to continue to serve on the C/S Board of Directors despite professional and personal challenges that would otherwise turn us away.

One of our many mantras says it best: "What we do is not about technology, it's about people". Roxie told me to say that...

State Chapters

Why have a Chapter?
A Chapter of the Alliance for Community Media provides a localized network of citizens, professionals, and organizations interested in community media issues, technology, and content. The Chapter approach cultivates a cooperative working relationship with neighboring communities and PEG centers to share ideas and solve problems. A Chapter assists the flow of information through regular articles in Keylight, the newsletter of the Central States Region, reports to the general membership at meetings, and with a web site like this one. Typically, a Chapter will meet regularly in various locations across a state or geographic area for workshops seminars.

How does it Work?
A Chapter is governed by a Board of Directors elected by the membership on an annual basis. Although generally granted great discretion in service delivery and style, a Chapter of the ACM must complete an affiliation agreement signifying compliance with ACM policies, procedures and practices. As the services of a Chapter are based upon the needs of the membership, you are encouraged to communicate ideas and opinions.

What does Membership Provide?
A Chapter provides members with a Directory of Access and L.O. facilities, the C/S Regional newsletter Keylight, a Chapter newsletter, discounts on Region and Chapter workshop and video festival registration fees.

More than anything, the Chapter is a grassroots network of community media advocates that provides professional, social, and sometimes "spiritual" support to its members.

Current Central State Chapters:
Indiana Chapter
OK Chapter Ohio - Kentucky
Michigan Chapter


Regional Groups

The Central States Region of the Alliance for Community Media is more than just state chapters. Local communities are involved via their state chapter. Below you will find links to many of those groups.