You know what it’s like. Sometimes you go to a party, mingle and swap a few stanzas with strangers. Sometimes the people you meet like to embellish their achievements, and their enthusiasm can be grander than actuality. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing. Heck, I’m the queen of playing down what I do. To meet who can big themselves up like a party balloon with a few pumps of hot air, always leaves me wanting to inact a one woman Mexican wave on their behalf. Bravo for bravado. This wasn’t the case recently when I embarked upon a conversation with a man of middle age, sporting a baseball cap with the word CREW stitched on in white lettering, and an easy manner.
Bill Smith, introduced himself to me not via a handshake and the decanting of a business card but a friendly drawing in of conversation and a seemingly genuine interest of those milling around the room. In fact, he let me prattle on for ages and it took him a while to share with me his passion for Brighton. This man is a visionary, led by a huge pride in the City in which resides, and a community spirit I guess is of a bygone era. ‘I run a TV station in Brighton’. he told me quietly (or words to that effect). ‘We’ve just been accepted as one of 20 local terrestrial TV stations to launch in 2012’. He told me of his burning desire to have the world see Brighton as a jewel of a City that hosts legendary arts & music festivals, superb theatre, sporting events, brilliant Universities and diverse and thriving businesses. Oh yeah, and a brand new football stadium that I hear hosts quite a good team (yawn).
I will be honest. My past experiences of local TV have been those with huge gratings of CHEESE. I’d seen public TV in Australia and California and my expectations were ground level. But a surf on internet www.thelatest.tv got me genuinely excited. This is TV sans cheddar. Fun presenters. Local news. Mini factuals about local business owners. Coverage of events and laid back chats with celebrities, come down to massage their soles on the pebbly beach, and bang out some tunes or stomp the boards. Think The Culture Show with a sprinkling of T4. The station has a political channel too. Local stuff. Stuff that I’m sure would make citizens of the town feel like they could have a say in. Not coverage of something going on in another country, which to watch just feels the opposite of empowering. I’m excited. This is the future of TV.
Bill ever so kindly put me down on the guest list to www.thelatest.tv’s launch gathering yesterday at The Latest Bar, another feather in his baseball cap (this man is an Action Man). The wine flowed, dainty canapes where doing zig zag circuits of the room. Lynn Ruth Miller, an American OAP, with a bag full of gags opened the show and loosened the crowd of Press people, local business and the wizards that craft the TV show. In October 2012, www.thelatest.tv, Bill’s brainchild, funded currently by advertisements by estate agents, who sell and buy the homes for the multicultural, transient population of Brighton and Hove, will be live on Channel 6. There was mention of apps too but I’ll gloss over that as not being an owner of an i anything I don’t really know what one is! The show will still be available on the web, but soon also at the end of 250,000 (give or take) residents remote controls. Ah, beautiful, bawdy, brilliant Brighton.
Bill Smith is one of those people who has a vision. He’s a new generation of humans who are moving things forward with quiet determination, I suspect a LOT of hard work, and a kind heart. In a current environment where change is being forced, and readily available information is making many institutions naked to our scrutiny, and banks and media’s walls are being stripped bare, it is refreshing to find someone who is walking their talk with integrity and a burning desire to make his town thrive inclusively and through collaboration via use of it’s populations talents. A centre for business and media. Not a wannabe London but an individual, forward thinking city, that emulates no one. Though, Mr Smith did have a twinkle in his eye when he offered leanings for us to think not of Hollywood but of Hollingbury as the centre of the West!
I for one will be watching.