When it comes to telling a story, video offers the opportunity not only to be educational, but also entertaining. That’s why VOP-TV, Oak Park’s government television station, is such an important tool for disseminating information about municipal programs and services.
Now, thanks to YouTube and other social media, VOP-TV programming reaches audiences far beyond local cable television subscribers. VOP-TV’s YouTube channel —www.youtube.com/vopnews— currently hosts more than 150 original videos that have attracted nearly 50,000 views and counting.
Of course, VOP-TV is government-sponsored television under the Federal Communication Commission definition, which means a focus on programs and services that are available to or supported by Oak Park taxpayers.
But that doesn’t mean the information is presented in drab, dry video packages. In fact, VOP-TV programs have won numerous national awards for their creativity and high production quality.
Program topics range from purely government information like explaining specific municipal programs to coverage of special events, like the annual A Day in Our Village festival and the July 4th parade. But VOP-TV videos also feature recycling tips, public art and special Oak Parkers.
A new feature recently created in collaboration with local food blogger David Hammond and oakpark.com, explores a single dish at a different local restaurant each month. Entitled You Really Should Eat This, the inaugural program — corned beef hash at George’s Restaurant — garnered nearly 800 views in a matter of days.
The majority of the videos are short, a format that seems to work best for online postings. But production quality — lighting, sound and editing — are top tier, thanks to the skills of VOP-TV Manager Joe Kreml, who studied television production at Chicago’s Columbia College.
Relying at times on other Communications Department staff for help with script writing and occasional on-camera appearances, Kreml produces, films and edits the videos, many of which feature municipal employees and residents in a wide variety of roles.
VOP-TV is housed near the Council Chamber in Village Hall, 123 Madison St. The station originally was set up to broadcast Village Board meetings, a role that remains an important function. But even the meetings now are streamed live and archived in a searchable database on the Village website at www.oak-park.us/boardtv.
Cable television continues to be an important outlet for VOP-TV programming, including a bulletin board with information about government programs, services and activities. VOP-TV is available to Comcast subscribers on channel 6 and AT&T U-verse customers on channel 99.
Training and equipment for individuals who wish to become public access television producers is available through Comcast, since VOP-TV cannot support private events and activities of not-for-profit or political organizations. Public access programming is broadcast on Comcast channel 19.
Click here for more information on VOP-TV.