Until March 2009, the only way you could watch a meeting of the Riverside Village Board was to sit down in front of the TV — if you had cable, that is — and flip to Channel 6 at 7 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of the month.
And in 2012, even though meetings were available on the Internet video website YouTube after the fact, not many people bothered seeking them out. According to Trustee Joseph Ballerine, in 2012 the village’s YouTube channel, Riverside TV, had just 380 views.
But on Jan. 15, the Riverside Cable Commission fully entered the digital age. That night’s village board meeting was streamed live on the commission’s website, riversidetv.us. It allowed anyone with Internet access — not just those with a subscription to Comcast cable TV service — to watch the meeting as it happened.
“Our goal from the very beginning has been, the more people know, the better,” said Ballerine, who is the village board’s liaison to the cable commission.
In the past couple of years, the Riverside Cable Commission has added broadcast coverage of Riverside Township Board of Trustees and Riverside District 96 Board of Education meetings. While those are not streamed live yet, Ballerine said, that’s the goal.
“We want people to see where their money goes,” said Ballerine. “I’m excited about that more than anything else.”
And people around the village have taken notice. Views of the Riverside TV YouTube channel now stand at more than 32,000 and the largely volunteer, student production crews have filmed more than 100,000 minutes of video since 2012.
Since that time, the Riverside Cable Commission and its production supervisor Karina Koncius transformed Channel 6 from a station whose programming was powered by four DVD players — the channel went blank after the DVDs played through — to one that has diverse programming.
The commission in the past year has purchased new digital equipment through the West Central Cable Agency, which is an intergovernmental group that oversees disbursement of cable TV franchise fees.
“Once we switched to all-digital, we were able to load programs in and schedule the whole station,” said Greg Gorski, chairman of the Riverside Cable Commission. “One of our last purchases was a digital switcher, which allows us to do meetings live, actively streaming them onto the Internet.”
Programs now include not only replays of village, township and school board meetings but Saturday morning cartoons and Friday and Saturday night movies.
And once the commission has put the finishing touches on a new website — something Gorski says may go live as early as this week — anyone with Internet access will be able to watch Channel 6 live online.
Until that happens, the channel has links to prior board meetings and special events, like the Fourth of July parade, Holiday Stroll, Riverside Arts Weekend and the Riverside Car Show.
Of the communities covered by the Landmark, Riverside is the only one televising its village board meetings and the only one with a dedicated cable commission. Brookfield has not broadcast video of its meetings for several years, though audio recordings are available on that village’s website.
North Riverside residents do not have access to either video or audio recordings of public meetings.
Riverside-Brookfield High School has its own TV channel, which broadcasts on both Comcast and AT&T U-verse. It also has a website where video, including District 208 school board meetings, is streamed live. The RBTV website live streamed the demolition of Shuey Stadium using a 24-hour “demo cam” last week.