A familiar face both on the streets of Oregon, as well as on computer and television screens, was honored Thursday, May 12 for producing his weekly documentary series, “Oregon Life.”
Frank Caruso, who is the social media producer for Oregon Community Access Media, was recognized at the Best of the Midwest Media Fest in Madison. The festival is a program of Wisconsin Community Media, a non-profit organization formed in 1998 to bring together Wisconsin’s local access television networks, sometimes referred to as “PEG” or Public, Educational and Government Access Television .
“Frank acts as an ambassador for the OCA, promoting us while sharing stories about local residents with our community,” Zwicker told the Observer.
These PEGs or local access channels began in the 1960s as a means of providing local news and communications, states WCM on its website.
Community media is often funded by local governments, school districts or non-profit organizations to benefit our local communities.
These outlets usually receive channels on cable TV providers and are also published on online platforms such as YouTube.
The annual two-day Best of the Midwest Fest conference is sponsored by WCM and the Midwest Region of the Alliance for Community Media.
“Oregon Life” producer Frank Caruso was one of two people to receive a meaningful community program award.
“These programs exemplify the important role community television plays in meeting critical community information needs and strengthening community identity,” WCM wrote of the award winners.
“Oregon Life” is produced as a weekly social media feature.
“As COVID-19 has limited some of our programming content, short-form storytelling like Oregon Life has been augmented and shared almost weekly in 2021,” said OCA Media Director Paul Zwicker. “Image-heavy feature films vary, but at the heart of these is the interview in which community members inevitably talk about what drives them. Our producer Frank Caruso constantly finds residents whose stories are both uplifting and entertaining.
Some of those interviews have included with Arlan Kay on prairie burns, intended to inspire viewers to reflect on the value of Lerner Conservation Park; Donna Gehin, alterations specialist, on making and fitting people’s clothes; and with Bugles Across America State Director Gene Vanden Bosch, who remembered playing “Taps” at the funeral.
“Each feature is compelling for different reasons,” Zwicker said. “We get to know people and we learn what they like to do.”
He credits the series with boosting OCA Media’s Facebook followers to almost 2,000.
“I’m offering this program for a number of reasons,” Zwicker told Wisconsin Community Media. “Perhaps most important is the impact this program has had on community recognition for Oregon’s Community Access Media. By increasing OCA Media’s audience in general, ‘Oregon Life’ is leading the way to OCA Media to meet the information needs of the community in many other important ways.
WCM’s Best of the Midwest Media Fest has been around for 25 years. It attracted entries from six states and more than 36 media centers this year.
“Our members have come together to collaborate, educate, advocate and share resources to build strong media hubs and create responsive local programming for Wisconsin communities,” WCM wrote on its website. “We encourage the creation of local non-profit media production and distribution facilities where ‘everyday’ people can produce programs on topics that matter to them and their communities”