Taking the Next Step: Sterling-Lancaster TV Partnership Continues Growth

Back in 2009, the towns of Sterling and Lancaster partnered for their cable television. Since then, things have been in constant forward motion.

Executive Director of Sterling Lancaster Community Television, Chris Detsikas has spent the past three years building the company, as well as setting up a studio in each town. Now he has advanced to the stage of bringing together the community in order to make SLCTV the best thing it can be.

When creating partnerships between individual towns, there is always going to be friction. What made the Sterling-Lancaster collaboration so smooth and successful, was how all parties put ego aside. The idea of a mutually beneficial relationship was always the goal, and it soon became universal.

Detsikas was a part of the board of directors that originally created the idea of SLCTV. That idea came about organically. Both towns had a lot in common, in terms of their relationship with Comcast.

“It was really the commonality of things,” said Detsikas. “The more subscribers you have, obviously the better negotiating edge you have. So we took the number from Sterling and the number from Lancaster and immediately doubled our clout.”

Once it was decided that the towns would come together for cable access, Detsikas slid right into his leadership role.

“I just said, ‘well, I know where we want to go,’ and I always had this background,” he said.

A large share of the credit for forming this partnership goes to the governments of each town. According to the executive director, their support was excellent. The governments fully backed their wishes to form the corporation, and obviously are accommodating in providing loads of televised content.

Moving forward, there is still a lot to come with SLCTV. Detsikas and Matt Downing are the lone staff members at SLCTV. Downing is the access coordinator, but the two are now in a search for volunteers. The sheer mass of programming they are hoping to put on will require more hands.

They currently run three constant stations, all of which have their schedules published at www.slctv.us. Channel 99 in Sterling and Lancaster, run each town’s government events on a regular basis. Channel 8 is where you’ll find some of their more open programming. 

“One of our most successful shows is called ‘Faces of Sterling’,” said Detsikas. “It is an interview-based show, in which the town administrator of Sterling talks to different officials from the city to give the community a sense of their job and its effects on the town.”

Their other top show is a bit different in both tone and cast. “Pawdoption” is an immensely popular program on SLCTV. Each week, the station heads to an animal adoption shelter to feature five dogs or cats that are available and looking for a good home. 

Prospective owners can pick up useful tips from the shelter owner, as well as find a new pet. In the near future, they will be looking into other shelters and including some horses.

Coming up will be a show with State Representative Kimberly Ferguson. This will also be an interview-style program, featuring Ferguson, a former member of the Wachusett Regional School District Committee.

“We’ve got a list of proposed shows that doesn’t even scratch the surface of how much there is around here.”

The two towns are so rich with material for programs, Detsikas can’t keep up.

“There is so much great stuff going on in this area, from the libraries to the schools, I wish I could hire a whole crew of cameramen,” said Detsikas.

The next big step on Detsikas’ mind is a news program. Everything broadcast on channel 8 is carefully prepared by the people at SLCTV, however it is all geared at getting the community active in specific events. A weekly news program would provide an outlet for them to give quick hits on a wider variety of topics.

Detsikas and Downing can’t do it alone though, this partnership is only getting bigger.