TV technology to teach Tucumcari

By Angela Peacock

Earning college credits by staying home and watching television is soon to be an option for Tucumcari residents.

Mesalands Community College President Phillip Barry was recently granted permission by Tucumcari City Commissioners to manage and operate an educational television station, which the city technically owns through their contract with Comcast Cable, the local cable television provider.

“It’s not uncommon for the Federal Communications Commission to provide these channels for educational programming. The city has had access to this channel for many years, but it has never been used before,” Barry said.

Currently, Mesalands is in the process of purchasing and installing equipment needed to allow Comcast to broadcast the college’s educational material. Barry said the overall cost for the project is an estimated $18,500, and is expected to be accessible to students by the Fall 2004 semester.

“The education channel is just going to be another way of providing residents with an opportunity to further their education,” Barry said. “This is a nice community service because the more instructional modes we have to provide education the better, because not everybody can make it to class at 8 o’clock in the morning.”

For more than 15 years, Comcast subscribers in the city of Lovington have had access to an education station similar to what Mesalands is soon to offer. Dennis Lopez, Comcast general manager for eastern New Mexico, said once Tucumcari’s station is up and running, he’s certain it will be an overall success.

“Just like any business there are people who aren’t going to be pleased, some who don’t like the service, but in large I’ve heard positive things about Lovington’s education station,” Lopez said. “This will be a real boost in the arm for people there in Tucumcari since it will allow them an opportunity to take classes from home,” Lopez said. “Mesalands is in total control of all the content that’s broadcast on the station. It’s strictly an education station and that’s how it has to be.”

Mesalands will set up their own time schedules as to when certain courses will be broadcast and when the station is not being used for class.

Barry said he hopes to offer other educational programming such as a community bulletin board, area school announcements and arts and humanities happenings. In a recent city commission meeting, Barry said replaying Tucumcari High School sporting and performing arts events is also possibility.

“As the college matures, we look for new avenues and approaches to providing education services to the community,” Barry said. “This new education station is really an exciting development for the city of Tucumcari.”