I've volunteered for Cape Ann TV for years — working behind a camera or in the control room, and for the past five years, producing and hosting "Cape Ann Conversations," a monthly show concerned with local and national issues.
I've enjoyed working with present and former staff members Sinikka Nogelo, Donna Gacek, Tony Ascenso, Bob McGlinchy, Andrew Love, Lisa Smith and Jennifer Lee Levitz and other volunteers, especially Lois Budrose and Rich Sagall.
I did a few "out of studio" shots in the beginning, but, in spite of Bob McGlinchy's patient efforts, never mastered the art of editing. I preferred working the studio cameras for Sinikka's live "Cape Ann Reports" each week.
Tony Ascenso first suggested a show of my own but it wasn't until I watched Democrats and Republicans exaggerating our differences in the 2004 presidential campaign that I considered it. I firmly believe that ordinary Americans have much more in common than political partisans and believed that showing various sides of issues would be something worth doing.
In April 2005, Rockport considered allowing alcoholic beverages to be served in local restaurants and hotels. I did two separate interviews that month, one with the "drys" and one with the "wets" presenting their case. Both were broadcast several times before residents voted to change Rockport's long-lasting dry status at Town Meeting that year.
During that meeting, a few residents told me about We the People, a local group involved in getting people together for civil discussions on a variety of issues and after talking with Nancy Goodman, one of the founders, it seemed to be the perfect beginning for my show.
The first "Cape Ann Conversations" was broadcast on May 18, 2005, on cable Channel 12. The topic was "respectful dialogue between people of opposing views" featuring Judy Wallace, a founding member of We the People and Walter Donnelly, a dialogue participant.