News you can use: ‘Sierra news and views’ will tackle regional topics | SierraSun.com

News you can use: ‘Sierra news and views’ will tackle regional topics

Renee Shadforth

Imagine watching some of the north lake region’s most influential and opinionated citizens all under one roof to listen to them discuss the area’s most controversial topics – and not having to go to a town council or board meeting to see them go at it.

Channel six’s new live television program, “Sierra News and Views,” should do just that, and give the community a forum to respond via call-in or e-mail.

The show’s first topic – “Affordable Housing: Let’s get Real!” – will air on Jan. 30 at 6 p.m.

“Now people don’t have to yell at their televisions,” said John Falk, the show’s host and moderator, referring to the call-in segment of “Sierra News and Views.”

“Everybody has an opinion, but only a few get to voice it.”

The hour-long program, which broadcasts live on the second and fourth Thursday of the month, features a different topic each show and will be divided into three segments. With the program running without safety net, there’s no telling what might happen, said Co-Executive Producer Gary McNally.

“I’ve been [producing] to tape for so long. Doing it live just seems so exciting,” McNally said. “It’s breaking some new ground, that’s for sure.”

For the first 20 minutes of “Sierra News and Views,” Falk, Truckee Mayor Ted Owens and former Mayor Maia Schneider will present the news in a conversational discussion.

“It’s not your typical broadcaster presenting the news,” said Co-Executive Producer MaryLou Sullivan.

In the second segment, a moderator and a panel will discuss their views on the show’s topic. In the weeks before the premiere, more than 20 people auditioned to be on the affordable housing panel.

“You’ve never seen so much energy in one room,” said Pat Davison, public relations coordinator for the program.

Producers chose four panelists for the first show: Tom Grossman, a local builder and developer; Ruth Frishman, an attorney and affordable housing advocate; Nikki Riley, of the Town of Truckee Planning Commission, and Mayor Owens. Falk will moderate the panel.

“Affordable housing is an interesting way to kick it off,” said Falk, who is the government relations coordinator for the Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors. “The tough issues are the questions that people don’t want to talk about.”

Oftentimes people say they advocate affordable housing, he said, but when it’s proposed in their neighborhoods, people aren’t so supportive.

“We all talk a good game, but when it comes down to it, are we walking the walk?”

The show should also provide for a more heated or lively discussion than the typical town council meeting.

Rules at council and board meetings, Sullivan said, can be so restrictive, so people often don’t get to speak their minds. The views segment should provide a different venue for more engaging discussion.

“[The show] will give [the panelists] a chance to be more of themselves,” she said.

And for those not on the panel, the interactive final segment of the program, “Sierra Talk Back,” will provide an opportunity for members of the community to call or e-mail their probing questions and tell the panelists and viewers what they think. In effect, the caller becomes a member of the panel.

“We’re creating a conduit from the show to the audience,” Sullivan said.

“Sierra News and Views” reaches an estimated 125,000 homes via channel six, according to http://www.sierratv.com, and streaming video from the Internet is in the works, so viewers worldwide can watch.

Channel six will rebroadcast live shows of “Sierra News and Views” on Mondays and Tuesday at 6 p.m., Fridays at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

In February, topics on “Sierra News and Views” will include special district consolidation and health care access in North Tahoe.

E-mail questions or comments can be sent any time to sierranews@yahoo.com. During the debate portion of the show, call 582-1194. “Sierra News and Views” is maintained under the auspices of Sierra Public Media Corporation, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization.

For more information about the show or sponsorships, contact Gary McNally at 587-8306 or MaryLou Sullivan at 587-3322.