https://www.eventbrite.com/e/somerville-museum-firehouse-reels-curator-tour-tickets-359981001867 Somerville Museum
1 Westwood Road
Somerville, MA 02143
Art, History, Kid Friendly, Lectures & Conferences
Firehouse Reels documents a local community television channel that has been in operation since 1983. The station was called Somerville Community Access Television (SCATV) and was an essential contributor to local culture.
The station was born in controversy: In exchange for using public rights of way, cable company Warner Amex was to give space and equipment to Somerville residents who wanted to create their own television programs. After bad feelings on both sides ended in a live, on-air arrest for trespassing, it was decided Somerville’s producers needed their own place. Somerville Community Access Television was then born as a non-profit organization, and they were given space in a rehabilitated firehouse that is still known as the SCAT building. SCAT, the first public access channel in Massachusetts, evolved into the Somerville Media Center, a consortium of podcasters, internet radio enthusiasts, and children and adults getting an education in digital production.
This exhibition presents the digitized collection of talk shows, musical performances, political forums, and art videos broadcast over the cable television channel 3 through the decades. The goal of this project is to give insight into the concerns of Somerville residents at that time. The collection of media is presented with monitors, projections, and sound throughout the Museum, combined with a few documents collected over the years: Flyers, letters of protest, and photographs.
Firehouse Reels helps educate the community on how public access became federal law alongside the narrative of Somerville Media Center’s unique regional and local contributions to that history.
Curated by Kat Powers, Executive Director of Somerville Media Center along with Somerville Museum's Asst. Director, Alison Drasner, and Art + Culture Asst., Laidy Saenz.
Kat Powers was a journalist at the Somerville Journal when SCAT was churning out debates and call-in shows, often finding her stories to be fodder for discussion programs on Channel 3. In 2003 she moderated no fewer than three debates in the main studio at SCAT, but she was probably best known in the studios as the person who edited SpeakOut, a column where residents anonymously left hilarious messages skewering local institutions and politicians. After a stints in a few high-profile roles, a book and leadership of a scout troop, Powers returned to Somerville to become executive director at SCAT — now called the Somerville Media Center, but still at home in Union Square. She is quite surprised to find the old tapes that became The Firehouse Reels feature her younger self.
Admission: $10; Museum members free*
Tickets must be purchased in advance
This program is supported in part by a grant from the Somerville Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
This program is made possible by a grant from Mass Humanities, which provided funding through the National Endowment for the Humanities via the American Rescue Plan.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.