Coworking and Community TV: a Pioneering Workspace Model in Santa Cruz, CA
Becca King Reed spent 35 years as a television producer and executive. Now she’s Executive Director at Community TV (CTV) in Santa Cruz, CA. While there are an estimated 1600 CTV (or public access TV as it’s commonly known) stations, Reed is doing something extraordinary: pairing community television and media with coworking and shared workspace.
A collaboration with the Satellite Workplaces brand, Satellite Santa Cruz offers a full studio, an audio booth, meeting and conference rooms, a Really Simple Video Place (RSVP), edit suites, open workspace, offices and every media-making tool you could imagine, from cameras and boom mics to lights, teleprompters and more.
We chatted with Reed about the unique community the space serves, the broader mission to make media and television creation accessible to the whole community, and how Satellite Deskworks enables her to power the organization with one community manager.
Cat Johnson: This collaboration between a coworking brand and a community television station seems to be a unique thing in the coworking world. I imagine some other models like this exist, but I haven’t seen them. It seems like a great fit to have workspace and media space in the same building and community. What’s the big picture when you look at combining community TV and coworking?
Becca King Reed: If others exist, I am unaware. What happens in television, if you’re making media, is generally you need space for some amount of time because you have a project. It’s all project based. So it might take you three months to produce a show and, during that time, you need a space to be in. Usually people end up renting a production office.
I was in TV for a long time. I’m very familiar with that workflow, so we kind of copied it. What we have is a place where people can come and cowork. We also have a TV studio, and we have edit suites. And we have all kinds of different equipment for producers to use to make television.
Our professional producer community can come in and use all those things. But they can also have an office there during the time of their production. That makes things easy because everything’s there. They’re not going to different places to edit and leaving to go somewhere else to do the sound sweetening. It’s all happening in one place.
That has made it very nice for local producers. Some of them actually come in and rent a space and they just edit day and night. We have very fast internet, so some of them will rent a small suite just to process their footage.
That’s common. We have animation—a lot of animation, and it takes a long time for it to turn over. So usually you leave at night and you leave that going and you come back in the morning. Same goes for special effects and that sort of thing.
What about the space itself? How do you see it supporting creators and producers as they launch and grow?
Sometimes people just want a more professional place. I was a producer for many, many years, and I was freelance for about 10 years, and I never met anyone at my home. I would always go to other people’s offices. Sometimes I would have to meet them in a coffee shop. And that’s just not comfortable with your laptop balancing on a table, trying to show them their video, and there’s noise in the background. It’s just not good.
The idea that people could just get an office when they wanted to show their piece is great. And for that reason, our conference room is set up with a huge—like 80 inch—monitor. A real monitor, not a TV, with a real soundboard. So people can show their clients their work in the ultimate situation where it looks its best. Many years ago, I would have to take a VHS tape into someone’s office and plug it into their little TV. And it would always be calibrated wrong. It wouldn’t be the nice, beautiful picture that took hours and hours for you to make.
Some people eventually grow and need a real office. This is a much better place to meet people than at coffee shops or their office. They come into your beautiful place. And they see there is a TV studio and edit suites right there. It just ups your game a ton. So now you are in this big production facility and you have an office there and you just seem a lot more professional than if you just pop out of your car with your iPhone and show them your video.
Do you have members who primarily cowork and only occasionally use the media amenities?
We have all kinds of people. We don’t say we’re just a producer’s coworking place. That would never work. Producers are a good chunk of our members, but anybody can be there. We have hospital clients, we have architects, we’ve had countless professions and all kinds of people.
In the RSVP, you go and you put your thumb drive in, you press a button, and the lights come on, the camera comes on, and the mic comes on. You stand on the X and you’re right in the place to speak. It works great. We’ve had the police department come in and do messages and things like that because they’re easy to record.
What are some other ways members and the community use the amenities?
Visitors use our rooms for Zoom meetings, interviews and that sort of thing. And they record business explainers for their websites, the kind of message that you might embed in your email or newsletter. Or you can record lectures or do a tour of a website. There’s a dozen ways you can use the rooms. They have a lot of flexibility.
Let’s talk briefly about the CTV broader mission of making video accessible to the community.
We’re a community television station. Our mission for our members is tri-fold: we really want to help people thrive in a digital world. And technology is where we all have to be. We all have to learn some technology, so we help with that. We also support self expression and civic engagement. The idea is, at these stations, that you can come in, we teach you, we offer tools, training and distribution. You will learn how to use the studio, how to use the lights, how to use the cameras, how to use the control room. And then if you have an idea for a show, you can produce it.
So if you have a mission, a hobby, a message, or anything you would like to share with the public, we make that possible. We have programs that have been on for 20 years. A lot of people do things that are very close to their heart—they share their passions. We have a lot of people come in and do music shows. We had a poetry show for a long time where poets would come and read their poems, and the producer got a lot of traction on that show. There were people from all over the world asking to be on it. It can be anything, the sky’s the limit.
It’s a remarkable collaboration, Becca. You’re using Satellite Deskworks to manage all the rooms, the rentals, the bookings. What has that experience been, and do you have a favorite Deskworks feature that makes running the space easier?
Deskworks is the only software I’ve used. For us, staffing is an issue. We don’t have a lot of money for people. So Deskworks makes it pretty easy for us to run the place with one manager—and for a while he wasn’t even full time. He can run the community, the events, the coworking center, the media rooms and rentals, and the webinars we do. Deskworks makes it possible.
Because Deskworks is online, I can just go in there any day, anytime, and see how we’re doing and see how many people are in the space and what’s going on. I can look at the trends and see what I need to see to run the business accurately—from a distance. We know who’s been there, how long they were there, what rooms are being used and which ones are the most popular. We get a lot of metrics from Deskworks that are really helpful.
One really nice thing about Deskworks is that it’s adaptable. We have a separate site we built for rentals that integrates with Deskworks. People can go online and rent a camera and pay for it through Deskworks. They make the reservation for the equipment, they come in and get it. We know when they’re coming, and we can have the equipment ready. And it’s all paid for and out the door.
Thank you, Becca! We appreciate all you do for the Santa Cruz community and coworking.
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