Channel 10 keeping locals, guests tuned in

— Kelly Anzalone was sitting at Subway three years ago, picking at the remains of his sandwich and talking to his then-fiance, now wife.

He had a degree in communications and video design and experience working for AT&T but was on his fifth year of waiting tables in Steamboat Springs.

"I said, 'Honey. I need to find work in my field.' Then I looked down at the paper and saw an ad for a production job with AT&T Media Services."

Now, he sits in a dark room big enough for a table and a few computer screens, editing eight hours of snowboard and ski footage into a 30-second piece of "eye candy."

This year, Anzalone is busier than ever as the station transitions from hour-long shows, such as the funky "Late Night Cafe" show that he hosted, to quick two- and three-minute clips designed to keep channel-flipping tourists informed and interested.

Channel 10 is operated by AT&T Media Services, the advertising division of AT&T Broadband, which recently merged with Comcast Cable.

On Valentine's Day, the name of the station will change just as its focus has changed to a more visitor-oriented market.

Channel 10 is part of a network of stations including Vail, Aspen and Winter Park, but Steamboat Springs is the only town to have an actual station airing programming and not just commercials, Anzalone said.

Unlike a public-access channel, where no advertising is allowed, Channel 10 is known as a "local-origination channel" that is fueled by advertising dollars. The commercial connection limits in many ways how airtime can be used.

Public access channels are community-oriented, nonprofit television where content is free form, locally driven and rarely edited by management.

Though Channel 10 must operate within the guidelines of a tourist information business model, employees still hope to keep their connection to Steamboat locals.

"We've struggled with our identity for years," Anzalone said. "We spend a lot of airtime explaining what there is to do around Steamboat, but locals already know about that stuff."

During mud season, Channel 10 runs community outreach programs such as the award-winning "Local Portraits," about breast cancer survivors, and "Sober Prom," a video program put together by high school students.

During the busy tourist season, locals David Jolly, Sonja Brown and Andrew Anderson read the snow report. Their alarms sound around 4:30 a.m. so they can make it to the station in time to read the weather reports and put together fresh clips to hit the air for the first time at 6:31 a.m.

They update the snow report every half-hour before the ski area opens and they have to leave the station for their day jobs.

The snow report runs every fifteen minutes until 10:30 a.m. All other airtime is filled with images designed to get people psyched to go skiing, said Debbie Curd, general manager for the channel.

The producers are "always looking" for local footage, Anzalone said.

"Give me your best crash, your biggest air," he said, "and I'll edit it into video."

Anzalone hopes that by putting that kind of footage on the air, "locals will watch to see their stuff, and it's eye candy for tourists as well."

He is also open for ideas, he said.

"I am always open to suggestions," he said. "If we have time, we'll shoot it.

"It could be more of a locals channel, but locals have to get involved."

Airing locals' big air and bigger crashes is not much different than the way producer L.D. Shoffner, production supervisor of six years, got started.

He moved to Steamboat in the early '70s. He was playing bass in a band at night and skiing during the day.

"I bought a Super 8 to film what I was doing," he said. Shoffner would film all day on the slopes, rush off the mountain to splice his footage and have it ready just in time for the apres ski crowd at the bars.

"People would come to the bars to see themselves ski," he said. "The film was free and the bar would pay me to bring people in."

His ski films played at Cassidy's, later known as The Inferno, and at the Steamboat Springs Village Inn, known today as the Sheraton.

In the '80s, Shoffner took a job with Channel 12, before it became the Spanish station. He hosted a morning show called "Good Morning Steamboat Springs" once a week with guests like Dan Smilkstein, Clint Black (when he was still an up-and-coming singer), Banana George and Rod Hanna, Shoffner said.

"I still have all those tapes," he said. "Those were the early days of local TV."

Shoffner took a job with Channel 10 in 1997.

"It was a lot smaller then," he said. All the shows were recorded on 3/4" tape that had to be driven by snowmobile to a tower in Summit County.

"If the tape got chewed up or if the head needed to be cleaned, you had to drive up there to fix it," Shoffner said. Now everything is digitally transmitted on a T1 line.

"It's such a breeze now," he said.

A lot has changed, including the focus of the station, but Shoffner wants to keep the old "see yourself ski" television spirit alive.

"We are always open to local ideas," he said. "The guests are here for a week, but the locals are here to stay."

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