Education Channel "EDtv" is Officially "On The Air"

Posted on  01/22/2013 10:00 am

Red Clay Consolidated School District Superintendent Merv Daugherty and Wilmington City Council President Theo Gregory today launched Delaware’s first 24-hour educational cable access channel which began airing programs this morning at 10 a.m.

EDtv, as the new cable channel is known, is on Channel 965 on the Comcast system and is available to ALL Comcast customers—residential and businesses—in the City of Wilmington and throughout New Castle County. Comcast subscribers are able to access EDtv regardless of which tier of service they purchase from Comcast.

In addition to information about area schools, EDtv will offer educational, entertaining programming created by staff, students, young people throughout Wilmington, local filmmakers and national institutions such as NASA and the Annenberg Foundation.

The development of the new channel began several months ago as Red Clay was in the process of building an expanded communications center at Thomas McKean High School while, at the same time, the City of Wilmington expressed public interest in activating an educational channel that it controls as part of its franchise agreement with Comcast.

“We are very proud of the City’s role in creating the opportunity for a new television channel that is devoted to helping children in Wilmington and throughout New Castle County learn more and grow as individuals,” said City Council President Gregory. “I express my appreciation to the Red Clay District for all of its efforts, and extend special recognition to former Council President Norman D. Griffiths, who, along with Council Members Hanifa G. N. Shabazz and Justen Wright and other Council Members, decided it was time to take a bold step and provide new options for our children to learn more about themselves and the world. The Council President also thanked the Leased Access Producers Association (LAPA) for its role in supporting the establishment of an educational channel.

“We view the channel as a public service,” said Red Clay Superintendent Merv Daugherty. “Red Clay was deep into the planning stages for a communications center at McKean when the opportunity with Wilmington became available. Giving young people a chance to work on videos that will be broadcast brought our idea for the communications center to a whole new level. We are grateful to the Wilmington City Council, which has entrusted Red Clay with this community asset.”

The City of Wilmington sought organizations that could build and manage a television station through a “Request for Qualifications” issued in early 2012. Red Clay submitted a proposal to manage the channel, based on the expansion plans at McKean, which were paid for in large part with federal and state career and technical education grants. After hearings before Council subcommittees, the full Wilmington City Council unanimously approved a two-year management agreement with Red Clay in April 2012.

The communications center at McKean also contains a long-running radio station whose reach will soon be increased from five to 15 miles. FM station WMHS 88.1 will retain the same call letters but will be renamed “The EDge” to reflect an emphasis on new and shared programming with EDtv.

Red Clay’s management of the City of Wilmington channel will be reviewed annually by an advisory board as stipulated in the agreement between the City Council and Red Clay. The board, which is comprised of representatives from the City as well as charter and private schools, is in the formative stages and is currently drafting by-laws and procedures. Once fully established, the advisory board will hold public meetings on a quarterly basis to review upcoming EDtv programming and provide a forum for comment and input from the community.

Red Clay will also seek feedback about the new channel through a new website dedicated to the communications center at McKean that was launched today with the new education channel. Community input is one of several Red Clay goals for the channel as outlined in the proposal submitted to the Wilmington City Council.

The first priority of the station is to provide opportunities for young people to create, shoot, edit and produce high-quality programming.

Students enrolled in communications courses at McKean and other high schools will work at the station as part of their course work. Young people from Wilmington will be encouraged to create broadcast-quality videos through workshops and clubs offered by community groups. Students throughout New Castle County may also submit videos to be considered for broadcast.
A second major goal of the channel is to provide entertaining, informational programs that help educate children throughout the area, focusing on universal educational targets such as reading proficiency by the end of third grade and lowering the drop-out rate.

Red Clay also intends for the channel to become a central place for parents and community members to find information on education, wellness, issues related to raising children and community organizations dedicated to helping children and their families. The organizations and all area schools—including other districts, charters and private schools—will be invited to submit information to a community calendar.

Parents will also be informed of community resources and programs available to their children and families, with an eye toward increasing awareness and involvement.

Red Clay and Wilmington officials gathered this morning at McKean High School to “flip the switch” together and usher in a new era in educational communications throughout the state. While numerous school districts operate cable access channels in neighboring states, EDtv is a first for Delaware.

“We are excited about this opportunity to encourage our young people, and give them a chance to shine,” said Dr. Daugherty. “We look forward to sharing their work with the Wilmington community and all of New Castle County.”

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