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Members of Public Allies pose with their Manchester collaborators Wallace Sapp (center, wearing hat) and Ronald Mallory (far right). (Photo / Henry Clay Webster)
At a launch party last night at the Society of St. Vincent De Paul, Public Allies and quite a few Manchester residents screened the unfinished pilot of a new Manchester TV show to be featured on PCTV, Pittsburgh’s public access television channel.
The show, Manchester Alive & Well, is a compilation of interviews with Manchester residents, who share their love and hope for their neighborhood. Those interviewed, many of which are on the TV show’s steering committee, expressed a similar interest in getting involved with the project.
“The media has very little to do with showing anything positive anymore,” said Wallace Sapp. “Through public TV we decide to do something that Channel 2, Channel 11 and Channel 4 News aren’t doing — to go into the community to squeeze out every positive moment we could find.”
Members of Public Allies, a community action group that trains young adults for the nonprofit and public sector, came up with the idea for the TV show after spending time volunteering in the community.
The pilot features Sapp talking about why he thinks Manchester receives such bad press. “We always have that hood reputation, but that’s because people don’t come to see it themselves.”
Sapp notes during the interview that he lives directly next door to one of the executives at the Heinz Endowment — someone he calls “one of the most powerful men in Pittsburgh” — but that outsiders think the neighborhood is only lower class. Sapp sees the diversity of income levels as an advantage.
Ronald Mallory, also on the show’s steering committee, talks on the pilot about the importance of cleaning up trash and discouraging littering among the neighborhood’s youth.
He cleans it up himself, “because I don’t know who might drive by,” said Mallory, standing on his porch, surveying Liverpool Street, one of the community’s nicer thoroughfares.
After the screening was over, Mallory said his vision for the show is to involve youth by showcasing their talents.
“The kids can see there is something to life other than standing on the corner and doing something unethical,” Mallory said. “What I’m hoping is that not only do people tell their stories but show their talent. There’s a lot of talent in Manchester.”
PCTV, whose headquarters are on Western Avenue, broadcasts to more than 100,000 households in the Pittsburgh region and also places its programs online on YouTube.com to connect to a larger audience.
The channel is available for free to anyone with a digital converter box. Local Comcast subscribers can watch it on channel 21, and Verizon subscribers have it on channel 47.
Once the pilot, about 20 minutes so far, has been reedited, PCTV will then schedule it in the following two to three weeks.
Michael Baltzer, a member of Public Allies, is in charge of editing the film and said he will submit the final product to PCTV by the end of the summer.
“After seeing how and audience reacted, I know how to change it,” Baltzer said.
To get involved, call Ronald Mallory at (412) 613-2447 or email him at [email protected]