Producers Producers relish giving everyone a chance to have a say on TV

Emily Vidal and John Lugton, producers at MetroEast Community Media, recall their brush with fame when the producers of the TNT series “Leverage” decided to film an episode at their studios.

In addition to meeting such TV stars as Luke Perry and Christian Kane, the producers also played small roles in the 2009 episode.

“I stood at a camera,” Vidal says, while her colleague had an even more significant role.

“I think it was a shot of my sleeve,” Lugton says with a chuckle.

The two producers clearly enjoyed playing with the big boys and girls in commercial television, but they wouldn’t trade their roles as community media advocates with any fancy schmancy Hollywood or Big Apple TV types.

“I really like the noncommercial aspect,” Vidal says. She and Lugton say they’ve seen a wide variety of interesting shows come to fruition at MetroEast, from quilting programs and comedy sketches to discussions of local political races and ballot OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Native Nations, one of the country's longest-running TV shows about indigenous peoples´ issues, tapes a segment about Native American dancing at MetroEast Community Media in Gresham.

In the coming weeks, Lugton says, MetroEast will broadcast shows on East County’s political races; broadcast holiday greetings from the area’s nonprofit groups and schools; and work with Center for Advanced Learning students on youth-oriented programs.

“They’re things that mainstream media almost doesn’t deal with,” Lugton OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Emily Vidal, left, and John Lugton are award-winning producers at MetroEast Community Media in Gresham.

The verdict is in

Vidal and Lugton are proud of their Gresham-based outfit, which recently won government programming awards from The National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, which recognizes excellence in broadcast, cable multimedia and electronic programming product by local government agencies.

MetroEast, in partnership with the Multnomah Bar Foundation, co-created a civic education video series designed to demystify the legal system. In the category for public education, “The Court System” won first place from NATOA and in the community awareness category, “The Courthouse” won second place.

“It’s pretty dry material, so we tried to make it as accessible as possible,” Lugton says. “Loren Coulter created all the animations for the programs, plus most of our production staff got involved at some stage.”

The two videos use animated graphics, simple yet active language and light humor by costumed actors to explain the court system.

Jim Westwood, a member of the Multnomah Bar Foundation’s board, played a bow-tied professor of law in the series, and praised Vidal and Lugton for their work.

“John Lugton and Emily Vidal are professionals from the word go” he says. “They know how to organize and orchestrate a production, but more than that, they’re warm people who collaborate with, more than direct, their actors. The result, in my opinion, is a personal-level production that viewers immediately relate to. With a subject matter of how people and their government fit together, MetroEast’s video works at many levels to educate and involve people in society.”

The people’s platform

In addition to their own work, Vidal and Lugton note that MetroEast serves as a stage for folks to produce their own shows.

Take “Native Nations,” one of the country’s longest-running programs devoted exclusively to Native American issues. David Liberty, the host of “Native Nations,” says his show has highlighted such topics as Native American dancing, the role of sweat lodges in Indian spirituality, tribal casinos and the reintegration of indigenous inmates back into society after release from prison.

“It would be nice to think it could be a commercial success, but we serve a small community,” Liberty says. “We’re biased, and we present the native issues from the native perspective.”

One of the show’s volunteer producers is Jim Lockhart, who’s also worked on many other shows for MetroEast, including ones that have covered such topics as clear-cutting in forests, political rallies and politicians’ speeches. Lockhart says MetroEast has allowed dozens of folks a chance to talk about everything from senior citizen issues to their own personal philosophies of life, in front of a camera.

“It allows anyone who just wants to take a little bit of their time ... to provide their opinion on any of the number of the issues that aren’t covered by the corporate media and not covered in depth,” he says.

Liberty and Lockhart add that their work at MetroEast has changed the way they watch television.

“I don’t look at TV the same as I did before,” Lockhart says. “I kind of giggle when the big boys (on commercial TV) make mistakes. It might be there for only half a second, but I see it.”

Meanwhile, Liberty says he barely watches mainstream TV, save for sports, preferring educational programs.

“If I can get away from commercials I’m happy.”

Archie Washington produces Part Time Playhouse, a program that showcases live theater, and voiced similar sentiments about MetroEast.

“I keep coming back each season because community access has been a terrific, supportive home for a variety of programming ideas I’ve wanted to try out, and everyone at MetroEast collaborates in a friendly atmosphere,” he says. “I’ve learned so much and continue to do so.”

Laos meets Gresham

Vidal traveled to rural Laos in February 2011 and worked on the documentary “Stories from Khoun Community Radio,” about a pioneer community radio station.

The program earned a third place award for documentaries this year from NATOA.

You can watch the video at

Your channels

MetroEast is located at 829 N.E. Eighth St.

Its channels can be found on Comcast Cable at 11, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29 and 30; and on Frontier FiOS at 22, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 and 38.

MetroEast also operates KZME 107.1 FM, a non-commercial radio station dedicated to broadcasting local music, supporting local arts and culture, and sharing information about East County public affairs.

You can learn how to produce a show, shoot footage and edit your footage into a completed program that will air on MetroEast channels 21 and 11.Workshop registration begins at 9 a.m. the first working day of each month. To register or ask questions about workshops, call 503-667-8848, ext. 300, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Basic workshops cost $10 each or one volunteer shift. You also can pay $25 for “All You Can Eat,” which pays for all your basic workshops for one year.

For more information about MetroEast, visit

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