Starting Sunday, public access station Berkeley Community Media is inviting city residents to “come on down” to share stories, jokes, songs and more.
“We really want to give Berkeley residents a voice,” said Michael Vaughn, an operations manager for the station, Channel 28 on Comcast. (It also streams live online.) “We want to know: what’s going on? What is their concern? They may have an idea about the community. They may have an idea for the world.”
“Story Sundays” will run Sundays through November, from noon to 3 p.m. If the effort takes off, it will continue on a monthly basis in December, said Vaughn, who also teaches world literature and composition at Berkeley High School.
The public access station has a membership program, but participation in Story Sundays is free and open to the community, no membership is required. The station has been around since 1994, and offers workshops and events, along with studio space and equipment use. (Community members maintain the copyrights to their own work, but grant the station first-airing rights.)
Vaughn said BCM programming coordinator Arielle Krnich came up with the idea for Story Sundays. The concept was somewhat inspired by StoryCorps — a national program “to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives” — but also just a way to let the community know the station is open Sundays.
In addition to individual storytelling or sharing, Vaughn said community members are welcome to bring in “someone who has been important in their life: their child, their father, their mentor, their guru… or if somebody’s rented a room in a house for 10 years and their landlord has been particularly kind.”
BCM reps will handle all the technical details, including lighting and sound. Vaughn said participants can use a real name or, if they prefer, a stage name (or, “whatever they want to be called”).
As long as content is family-friendly, and not a “call to action” or advertisement, it will be aired on television and on the station. Some of the details remain to be determined, but Vaughn said many of the segments likely will be bundled together to run, though others may run individually.
“When our middle name is ‘Community,’ it really has to be all about you: your skateboard video, your video when you’re just talking into your built-in screen in your Mac. Or: You’re coming out of the closet, or you’re ranting about your life. You’re telling a secret, whether you’re 19 or you’re 90. We’re asking people to come do that,” said Vaughn.
He noted several other oral history and storytelling projects around the city, from the South Berkeley Legacy Project in the Lorin District, to the Elder Voices open mic series at the North Berkeley Senior Center, both of which may offer some possibility for collaboration.
Vaughn said he expects to hear a wide range of stories.
“It could be about ‘Why I love the world,’ or ‘A great place to go for a hike is this place.’ Or: ‘It’s gonna be time soon for your bulbs, so here’s how to plant your bulbs correctly.’ ‘My Thanksgiving wish for everyone is…’ ‘My new year’s resolutions are…’” he said. “It’s almost like the sky’s the limit. I would think that there would be a lot of optimistic people coming in, wanting to share something for the future.”
The fine print
- No vulgar or threatening content, no ‘calls to action’
- Time available will depend on how many are waiting
- Minors under 12 must be accompanied by a parent
- Minors 12 and older must bring a signed permission slip. (Include language granting permission to be at Berkeley Community Media to record a story; include permission to air the recording; include a printed name and signature; include contact phone number)
- Find Berkeley Community Media on Facebook
- Who: Berkeley residents
- When: Sundays in November, noon to 3 p.m.
- Where: 2239 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (between Bancroft and Allston in “G” Building of Berkeley High)
- Cost: Free
- Questions? Email Mike Vaughn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out about more events in Berkeley and nearby, check out Berkeleyside’s Events Calendar. We encourage you to submit your own events.