Television news and radio come live to Friday Harbor

Located conveniently across the street from the courthouse inside the Mason building, lights and cameras are ready for action at County News Live 2. This tv and radio station does a deep dive into local and regional news. Islanders can tune in on their computers or phones.

This will be Noedel’s second run at a county news station. Having always had a passion for television, he started CNL out of a small town in Missouri which ran from 2008 to 2014. CNL was also a printed paper. This time around he wanted to focus on television, and be clear with the local papers he has no interest in competing.

“When I got here, [November 2022] I wasn’t sure I was going to do this again,” Noedel said. He had a whole decade to think about what he would do differently, however, and technology has changed dramatically. The learning curve on the technology side has been steep.

“Figuring out what service to use to stream, discovering bandwidth costs. We struggled with the fun stuff, the phone hybrid technology to bring in live phone calls. I wouldn’t have believed this going into it but some parts of this took a half a year to figure out,” said Jeremy Taylor, CNL2’s behind-the-scenes tech guru. “We‘re not broadcast engineers. Nobody here went to school for broadcasting. We learned through photography and videography and editing skills and animation and just life experience.”

Fortunately, Noedel’s past experience in television helped. “I don’t think this would have been possible if I hadn’t worked in television… in the 80s, a long time ago. We kind of mimicked that model,” he said. “I had learned how shows came together, but I never thought I’d build one.”

There have already been a range of guests from San Juan County Sheriff Eric Peter, to Representative Liz Lovelett, artists Maria Michaelson with gallery owner Nate Fihn, and high school Maria Magana-Navarro. Kathy Nett whose Studio Jamm is next door, is partnering with CNL2 on a segment about senior dancing. This show helps bring attention to senior health. Topics in the past have covered ongoing ferry problems, fentanyl and the concerns of today’s youth. The Journal also makes an appearance to talk about their current headlines. They have also been picking away at one of the biggest issues plaguing the county – ferry service.

While he is doing everything possible to keep all content free, there are two pressing needs: revenue and content. “We need people to come to us with their ideas and talent,” Noedel said. Recently, a number of artists have stepped forward to talk about their creative lives and careers, but they are open to more concepts. Financially, to defray the cost of the bandwidth to deliver the signal, there is a subscription. The cost is $12 a month, or for $120 for the year, getting two months free. There is a bonus gift at the $120 level, the subscriber may have an hour in the studio to record whatever they want. To rent the space and equipment would otherwise be $150 an hour.

Working with high school and college students to train them in news and communications is another goal. “We are creating jobs…There could be 10 or 20 good jobs created here. Because this is an island, and because this is a small place, a lot of those will be kids,” Noedel explained, adding that there will be a lot of turn over as those young people graduate and move off the island with the skills they have learned. “We will be very happy to have them here while they are here, and we will be very happy to see them move on from here, graduate on to bigger and bigger things,” Noedel said.

Currently, Noedel and Tyler are working on what they call the 48th parallel news. Thirty years ago, printed local papers began to struggle with ad revenue and readership. Those struggles have only increased as approximately two newspapers close each week, according to the “State of the News Project.” There are 204 counties with no local news outlet. The study adds that of the 3,143 counties in the U.S., more than half, or 1,766, have either no local news source or only one remaining outlet, typically a weekly newspaper. This lack of public access means no one is holding local politicians or elected officials accountable, let alone corporations.

Noedel plans to use the latitude and longitude of the 48th parallel that runs from approximately the Canadian border to the north, down to Everett, then cuts across Jefferson County, picking up Port Townsend and Port Angeles, and across to Victoria. All these communities share countless commonalities. They each share the same water, care about the same whales, and have similar struggles with the Fentanyl epidemic. The total viewership in that could reach one million. How this could help newspapers is television advertising dollars are still strong. If each paper throughout the 48th parallel could collaborate content, he would then share a portion of his advertising funds with them. They help him with content, he helps their pocketbooks. How much time from editors is needed would be up to them, but the more they provide, the larger the share of ads they receive. Local papers also may see an increase in readership that has seen their brand on CNL2’s 48th parallel news.

“Suddenly all these millions of people in the 48th parallel start to see the brands. These little franchises have been around for so long. [Views see] do good work over and over again,” Noedel explained. “I envision [48th parallel] like a rising tide, helping lift up all the boats.”

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