Parsippany-Troy Hills may not have its own television station, but it does have a TV presence, thanks to Video on the Go. The service shared and funded by the township and the school district showcases the community and allows residents to see and be seen.
Video on the Go produces a wide range of original programming of, by and for Parsippany. Content ranges from a half-hour talk show about local theater to full-length Parsippany and Parsippany Hills high school sporting events to short clips of local school and municipal happenings. These programs are delivered to the public in three ways: via Cablevision, on DVDs and in steaming-video form on the Internet.
The VOTG studios are found at Central Middle School. The primary staff there is made up of producer Jeff Coviello, director Brian Satch and production technician Greg Loughlin. The rest of the crew consists of student volunteers from both of the high schools.
Coviello, as the producer, deals with logistics.
"I handle ordering and budgeting," he said. "I also teach TV production classes at the two high schools. It's a pilot class right now, but we're seeing a huge interest in getting beyond the pilot and having an actual class."
The volunteers, according to Coviello, come from his production classes.
"The goal is to teach them how to use technology to inform the public and to learn to use the equipment. They run cameras, deal with audio, and learn skills like switching between cameras," he explained. "Video on the Go gives the students really useful experience. "
Brian Satch was one of those volunteers not so long ago. Inspired by what VOTG taught him, the 2004 Parsippany Hills graduate went on to study film at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Satch completed his degree in 2008 and returned home to Par-Troy, where he was hired on a part-time basis to work with Video on the Go.
Greg Loughlin as a teenager volunteered alongside Satch for VOTG and he also discovered a passion for television production. After his 2005 graduation from the High, Loughlin began working part-time for the service.
Naturally there has been a lot of change in equipment, methods and philosophy since Video on the Go was founded in 1978. But change comes fast in television production: The analog systems that Satch and Loughlin learned as high schoolers are now digital.
"As media changes, we're changing with it. We want to stay ahead of the curve," said Coviello.
The studio space in the back of Central Middle boasts cameras, lighting rigs, computers and more--even a small set with chairs and a backdrop. All that's missing is a smiling host and his or her nervous guest.
"That set is used for a lot of different types of shows," Satch said. "This is a real frugal setup. We are able to do a lot with a little by being really creative."
Despite evolutions and thrifty upgrades, Coviello says one thing has not changed.
"This has always had its focus on the schools and the community of Parsippany," he said. "The programming roughly breaks down to about 80 percent geared to the schools and 20 percent to the town."
That translates to a lot of content.
Video on the Go covers just about every school event that happens in Parsippany. Special municipal occasions such as the town's 9/11 anniversary ceremony, the Summer Concert Series, the Memorial Day parade, Taste of Parsippany and the Pride Tournament are recorded and aired or streamed, giving residents who missed an event the opportunity to see it.
And then there are the full-blown programs: "Pride in Parsippany," an interview show hosted by Mayor James Barberio; "Behind the Curtain," a talk show about the performing arts hosted by Barbara Krajkowski of the Women's Theater Company and "Inside Our Schools," which features Superintendent LeRoy Seitz and school board members.
"My biggest challenge is to make things as picture perfect as possible, but there just isn't time," said Satch. "There is so much content."
And apparently, there is demand for it.
"You can tell when we get the most traffic [to the VOTG website]: Board of Education elections, graduations, major sports games," said Coviello. "Video on the Go is a useful tool for the district and the town to give people the chance to see their neighbors and family members and to see what's going on in the town."
VOTG has another benefit, Satch said. He pointed out a huge computer monitor in the studio where women are shown in black and white footage competing in an athletic pursuit.
"That's from 1978," he said. "We're burning it onto DVD so we can archive it. One day the town will have a historical record through these videos."
The content can be accessed via the VOTG website and its streaming video player for free. You can also purchase programming in DVD form for $20 per disc. Or you can watch the service's offerings on Cablevision of Morris channels 21 and 77.