March 6, 2017 was just another eventful Monday in Petaluma.
At City Hall, Basin Street Properties’ Northbank subdivision – a 19-lot piece of its huge Riverfront development – was on the City Council’s agenda that evening.
Over at Shollenberger Park, a collection of prominent Petalumans were honoring the late Sonoma County environmentalist, Bill Kortum – a widely revered figure in North Bay history – with the dedication of a new community bench, so that we might pause and enjoy the scenery while visiting the park.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the GOP introduced its alternative to Obamacare that afternoon – the American Health Care Act – and it so happened that Rep. Jared Huffman, representing the 2nd District of California, was holding a Town Hall meeting on healthcare at the Petaluma Veterans Memorial building just a few hours later.
Upwards of 1,000 people had RSVP’d for the event online, and given the extraordinary level of interest, Alexa Shaffer, Huffman’s Director of Communications had reached out to us at Petaluma Community Access the week before to ask if we would like to live-stream this event.
“There is a huge waitlist so we’re trying to figure out how to accommodate everyone!” she wrote.
“Can we do this?” we all wondered.
Live-streaming video was definitely out of the question for a number of reasons. It was just not within reach.
We had just recently launched the KPCA radio station though, and were live-streaming public access radio programming created by and for the community residing in the Petaluma Valley via the KPCA.fm website.
KPCA Radio Manager Rob Tomaszewski thought we might be able to make it happen.
Just days before, PCA Board member Dennis Murphy had tested our live-streaming capabilities at John Crowley’s Aqus Cafe. There were some kinks to work out, but overall the test had been encouraging.
Time was short though. Shaffer’s request had arrived on a Wednesday afternoon. Rep. Huffman’s event was the following Monday, and we had no idea about the setup or capabilities at the Veterans building, particularly what their audio/public address system was like.
But we did make it happen.
Four visits to the site, 15 + hours of setup and preparation over the weekend by Tomaszewski and Murphy, and come Monday afternoon at 4:30 pm, KPCA radio did live-stream Representative Jared Huffman’s Town Hall on healthcare. We had quite a few listeners too! We know because we received numerous phone calls asking what happened the couple of times that the signal dropped. Fortunately the dead time was mercifully brief.
It may not have been an event that’ll ever make the history books, but for us at PCA/KPCA it was an extraordinary opportunity to test our capabilities and see what we could do. It was also an opportunity to be of public service. This was an important meeting on an issue of tremendous significance to a great many of our fellow citizens, and the facility was at maximum capacity. Broadcasting it to a larger audience could have been of great value to the public. We are grateful to Rep. Jared Huffman and his staff for providing the opportunity, and the crew at the Petaluma Veteran’s Memorial for their generous assistance making it happen.
Have your own ideas about what constitutes news, and/or what we should be listening to on KPCA? Come join us and let’s get your show on the air. History is made moment by moment, in the here and now, and the airwaves belong to you.
If you missed Rep. Huffman’s gathering and would like to listen to it, you can find the audio of the KPCA broadcast at the Internet Archive, thanks to Dennis Murphy.
We also filmed the event, so now you can watch a video of the town hall at our YouTube channel as well.
Thanks for reading, and long live KPCA – public radio by and for the Petaluma community.