Stone age of Video-- DCTV was founded in 1972 in the stone age of video. Working odd jobs as waitress and taxi driver, Keiko Tsuno and Jon Alpert were infected with the video-bug when they first took their video cameras in the streets of Chinatown. They also began teaching free video production workshops in their loft on Canal Street. "We had minimum materials and maximum enthusiasm."--Keiko Tsuno
1/2" Color Portapak--Every Sunday, DCTVwould organize a baseball game in
When they showed the footage to NBC, "...the engineers guessed it was 16 mm, then 35 mm, then two-inch, one-inch until they ran out of guesses....That afternoon NBC called Sony and ordered 100 machines. It was NBC's first step into
The baby carriage--The next generation of "portable" video equipment consisted of a large camera, a control unit, a recorder and a heavy battery belt. The whole setup weighed 50 lbs. and required 2000 watts of lighting equipment. To remain portable Jon and Keiko needed to come up with some means of transport. "A baby carriage we thought! It's good for carrying something delicate and at the same time it is rather disarming. People will look at it and start laughing and while they are laughing at you, you start taping"--Jon Alpert
"Fidel Castro noticed us at the end of an entourage of reporters. He must have thought, 'Who are those strange looking people with the baby carriage?'. So he came over to us and asked, 'What is that?' and Jon said, 'A baby carriage'. Fidel gave us a look like 'Duh! I can see that'. Jon was too scared to ask any questions and Fidel just smiled and walked away. Jon couldn't sleep that night because he had let us down. We said we wouldn't work with him again if he didn't show some courage. The next day, Jon almost tackled Fidel to get an interview"--Keiko Tsuno
Commitment to Youth--in 1976 DCTV started its first high school program for "at-risk" youth. Since then they have been teaching the television arts to hundreds of inner city youth who have participated in video production workshops, media literacy programs, and the annual Youth Video Festival. These productions, conceived and created by the teens, have won numerous national and international awards and spurred the kids onto higher education and employment.
NBC-- In 1978 Jon and Keiko went to
The Abandoned Firehouse--The heat and the noise in the little loft on
At Home in the World--Throughout the 80's with the support of NBC, DCTV's camera and crew went wherever there was war or a need for honest reporting and sympathetic hearts; The Phillipines, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Angola, Chiapas, and Iraq. Often, they were the only reporters observing events affecting the lives of millions of people.
Cyberstudio for the Arts-- DCTV build its interactive television studio on the third floor of the firehouse. A marriage of Cable TV to Internet Broadcasting. We aimed to change the nature and intensify the impact of public-access television. The Cyberstudio will take Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) ﾗ the nation's premiere and largest cable network with 500,000 subscribers ﾗ to a new level. MNN chose to make DCTV a satellite studio site because they knew that we are devoted to facilitating the production of high-quality documentaries, cultural programs, and public-service news coverage. By combining cablecasts with simulcasts on the web, we began to attain high-quality programming and excellent interactivity for all our programs.
Cyberstudio for the Arts--Live from Downtown had its first successful season which featured 12 artists from lower
Although segments of the program were shown on channel 13 and CBS, no American network would air the entire video.
Democracy Now - DCTV invited Amy Goodman and her team at Democracy Now to set up shop on the top floor of the firehouse. They are here from dawn till dusk, shooting their radio/TV program or preparing for a broadcast. It's no longer surprising to see Amy or one of her crew, gracefully sliding down the fire pole on their way to the third floor bathroom. To learn more about democracy now, visit their website at www.democracynow.org.