WYOU community television station goes worldwide via Web

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Posted by madcityradio.com on March 06, 2009 at 10:16:28:

WYOU community television station goes worldwide via Web

Jane Burns — TCT 3/06/2009 9:59 am

No matter how much money is raised during this week’s WYOU fund drive, executive director Barbara Bolan sees this as a start of something new for the community television station.

For as much as the news has been bleak since it became official that the station would lose its local funding, a non-financial boost came this week when WYOU’s programming went worldwide. Viewers can now see the channel’s unique programming well beyond Madison as it is streamed at wyou.org. So yes, that means the iconic "Cooking With Bob" is about to have a worldwide audience.

"There’s nothing that the online world loves better than unusual, some would say eclectic, some would say incendiary, type programming," said Barb Bolan, WYOU’s executive director. "Bob could become a phenomenon and bust way farther than Madison and Dane County."

The world will get its first chance to see Bob Swokowski whip something -- anything -- up on his grill on Saturday at 1 p.m.. As part of the pledge drive, "Cooking With Bob" will be broadcast live from the WYOU parking lot at 609 E. Washington Ave. It’s not just Bob doing the cooking, however, fans are encouraged to bring their own food and cook with him.

The pledge drive began on Sunday. As of Thursday morning, the station had raised $3,200, Bolan said.

"That’s modest, but it’s the first time ever for this station," she said. "Success is measured in more than just dollars. It’s also about profile. We’re certainly raising the profile."

The fund-raising became necessary when a change in state law affected the cable fees WYOU had gotten. Now, all financing for public, education and government channels will end by 2011.

This pledge drive is one of four fund-raisers Bolan plans for this year. Not all will be pledge drives. Another might be a video installation to tie in with Gallery Night, and hopes for having a bigger "Cooking With Bob" event in the summer when people are thinking more about cooking out.

So far, Bolan said, country musician Jesse Walker has been the "MVP" of this pledge drive. For two hours on Tuesday, he took requests for songs in exchange for a pledge. Most of the programming all week long is live, which has created a buzz at the station, Bolan said.

"It’s as if the station is breathing and the heart is pumping," she said. "You can feel a pulse here, which is great."

As important as the fund drive is, Bolan said the live streaming is "huge." The station was able to do so because of services and products provided by 5 Nines Data, Supranet and ResTechServices.

"The switch actually got turned on on Monday, and then they’ve been working with us to keep tweaking it," Bolan said. "It’s a new opportunity. We’ve had pledges from California, New York, further out in Wisconsin and the Milwaukee area."

Bolan truly got a sense of the reach the streaming provides via her own e-mail.

"I got an e-mail from my mom in Prescott, Ariz., who is 84, saying, ‘Wow, could I have a WYOU cup? I tuned in on my laptop,’" Bolan said. "It was so awesome."

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