The Raleigh Television Network or RTN is a gem in our capital city. Recently a branding company asked whether or not I had skills in producing a video, and answered, yes. Lessons from the city turned us into community producers. To the caller’s surprise and delight they immediately mentioned they would bring this idea to Minneapolis, Minnesota. According to Karyn, the station’s manager for more than a decade, other cities inquired regularly about what was being done at RTN. During my tenure, I learned how to use a professional camera and the painstaking process of editing. Throughout my challenges, RTN’s staff remained cutting edge, moving into new editing software and equipment; they had incorporated smaller and lighter digital cameras.

Karyn Thomas, a Raleigh native, was blessed with a multi-talented mother, who was the first African American secretary hired by NC State. She was a singer. For part-time jobs, she worked as a content editor and proofreader with a reliable reputation amongst doctoral candidates. She had typed thesis papers before Microsoft ‘WORD’! Karyn’s mother introduced her to the joy of reading and writing.

Karyn shared a brief account of her father related to having a family retail corner store business, when growing up, typical in many segregated black communities. This contributed to her awareness of a sustainable community through local businesses. It is evident in her event planner role with her husband, and partner in bringing culturally aware events about African American History and Culture to Triangle communities. Their dedication and passion for educating youth through exposure to the arts has evolved as institutional events during Black History Month and end year season celebration of Kwanza for over 15 years. 

Karyn had enjoyed being a TV producer and manager, at RTN, which included a talented team of staffers, who have provided the whole package. They filmed or photographed events, interviewed in and out of the studio, developed graphics, edited their shows, managed and scheduled airing times. They have demonstrated mastery of their craft! The process involves working with city leadership’s established ground rules, priority programming, city staff outreach programs and initiatives within the community. Karyn’s team in conjunction with leadership has given Raleigh one of the most successful city TV stations in the country. 

Being a producer entailed script and storytelling as essential to good content; Karyn participated in and was responsible for all production aspects for TV programming. Part of her work was to conceive programs, pitch them, establish a budget, and do any contract work with outside producers and other resources. The other part of her work included the implementation of city outreach and engagement. Karyn’s role was to ensure quality, coordinate with leadership staff and give cover to a creative team of technical experts.

The community fellows, of which I was a participant, was and still remains a city outreach program, which was affordable, provided lessons, allowed the use of city equipment, with the outcome for members to produce a show. Fellows were trained to either be ‘in the field’ producers or ‘in-house studio’ producers. Through this program I became a field producer. 

City’s leadership changes in the City of Raleigh sought to update its brand in lock step with keeping up with changes dictated by the regional marketplace. Organizational changes had trickled across the city’ organizations affecting RTN. The quickness of industry changes has required upgrades with new equipment and software, to which I can attest. The ever-evolving work of TV production inside a changing city organization has been impacted by downtown development and space utilization.  Karyn’s decade and more of work, at RTN station as producer and manager, had ensured capacity, got work done with available tools in a friendly working environment. Despite changes abound, many citizens have benefited greatly from the city’s outreach efforts. I have appreciated the encouragement of staff under Karyn Thomas’s leadership role as producer, manager, major steward and influencer for RTN, a city of Raleigh gem.  

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