WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — The man who has helped Community Access Television grow over the past 24 years is ready to retire.
Robert “Bob” Franzoni, 70, announced he is retiring from his position as CATV’s executive director next May, handing off leadership of an organization he helped shape into what it is today.
CATV is a nonprofit public access station airing on local channels 8 and 10 that serves the towns of Hartford, Hartland and Norwich in Vermont, as well as Hanover and Lebanon in New Hampshire. First located in nearby Hanover, CATV relocated to the Tip Top Building in downtown White River Junction in 2005.
“Channel 8 is for public and select board meetings and Channel 10 is for education, arts and school board,” Franzoni said. “CATV provides community members with an outlet to produce their own content, as well as to view meetings that they weren’t able to attend, such as school meetings or select boards.”
The station’s recordings also are backed up on www.archive.org.
The organization’s philosophy is centered around community building — that facilitates open public dialogue and government transparency by providing access to the expanding world of media.
“We all have the same mission here at CATV: creating community,” Franzoni said.
Franzoni first began with the organization in 1993, when he was its technical director, and he took on the executive director job in 2005.
“Bob has been a staple here,” said Sophie Bodnar, the station’s production coordinator and educational outreach assistant. “CATV has been a staple here in the Upper Valley. He has been here since the start — when people think of CATV, they think of Bob.”
Through his background in education, Franzoni brought a multifaceted, hands-on, educational component that led the organization to expand. Franzoni taught at Thetford Academy in Vermont for 15 years prior to his position with CATV.
“I’ve always loved telling stories, yet education is where my passion lies the deepest,” he said.
One of the initial programs he began was teaching video production to students at the Hartford Area Career Technology Center. Franzoni also pioneered a video studies program for Hartland students.
“It helps break up their day and takes their minds off of the stress of the classroom and homework,” he said. “It promotes creativity and excitement. Recently, some even took part in the Alliance for Community Media Conference in Boston.”
With the move to White River Junction, the expansion allowed for Franzoni to expand on implementing educational programs, including in-school programs, annual video competitions, video camps and more.
Through the rattle and the horns from the trains passing near the Tip Top Building, Franzoni painted a verbal picture of what the former space of their current multi-use newsroom looked like when they first moved in.
“It was an old furniture-making shop; we couldn’t even hear ourselves talk to one another before the soundproofing took place,” Franzoni recalled in an interview on Tuesday. “Reflecting back over the last 24 years, it feels good to look around me, to see where we are today as a nonprofit. I was going to retire last year, but I just wasn’t ready. I now feel ready. The organization is in good hands — Sophie and the other staff members are fantastic.”
The board’s search to locate successor has already begun. Franzoni stated he will be actively involved in the transition process, but he will also know when it’s time to back away because, “change is important. The growth of the organization today will be with a new ED — a hands-on ED that has attention to detail, a visionary, a sounding board. The ED will ultimately guide the organization away from becoming stagnant to allow it to continue evolving.”