Things looking up for GrassRoots TV | AspenTimes.com
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Things looking up for GrassRoots TV

Sarah S. Chung

What a difference a year makes.At this time a year ago, GrassRoots Television was operating with outdated equipment, taking heat for its lack of local election coverage and grappling with a mass exodus from its board of directors. On top of all that, the station was anxiously waiting to learn the consequences of failing to file five years’ worth of federal tax returns.Struggling to raise funds, the community station held its first RootsJam concert. It was a success.Now, a clearly revitalized GrassRoots is planning its second RootsJam fund-raiser.Of the six goals set for the station last November by station manager Sean Sunkel, all but one has been achieved.In the past year, Aspen, Snowmass Village and Pitkin County have all purchased permanent equipment, so station employees no longer have to transport 250-plus pounds of outmoded video equipment in order to air government meetings.In addition, $150,000 worth of technological upgrades will be heading GrassRoots’ way thanks to negotiations between Pitkin County and AT&T.The station has restructured its bylaws, assembled an eight-member board of directors, increased its revenue by 60 percent, hired more staff and resolved its situation with the Internal Revenue Service.The only thing left on Sunkel’s to-do list is improve its programing by creating new, locally oriented shows. Some ideas being thrown around include a cooking show, an entertainment show produced in conjunction with local radio station KSPN, and possibly increasing its coverage of lectures held at The Aspen Institute.”When everything kicks in, people won’t believe it’s GrassRoots television. It’ll be a completely different beast,” Sunkel said.But all the strides made by the station don’t negate its need for continued community support, Sunkel told City Council members this week. Even with all the improvements made in the past year, $100,000 is still needed for equipment upgrades and $50,000 is needed for additional staff and operating expenses.This winter’s RootsJam, scheduled Jan. 14 at the Wheeler Opera House, will be headlined by local John Oates of the pop duo Hall and Oates.


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