QPTV celebrates rich history with new exhibit
by Salvatore Isola
Oct 02, 2019 | 1750 views | 0 0 comments | 55 55 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A new exhibition at Queens Public Television’s (QPTV) Flushing headquarters celebrates the history of the network, highlighting the respected history of QPTV and its significance to the borough.

In chronological order, the exhibition details groundbreaking programs, awards won, and moments the station made the news.

One notable event occurred in 1993 when QPTV tested the limits of free speech by airing a program on race produced by the KKK and white nationalists. In response, the station was met with protests and graffiti outside the office.

It also shows how QPTV was nominated for three New York Emmy Awards this year.

The collection is meant to be a permanent installation, with the possibility of being amended. Television displays and removable frames can be amended when needed.

“If the content ever becomes stale or dated, we will do it over,” said Patrick Dimotta, chairman of QPTV’s Board of Directors. “There is room to expand.”

It took six months to research, design, and install the exhibition. One of the highlights is the bedrock of QPTV’s mission: the First Amendment inscribed in its entirety.

“We were the social media aspect back in 1982,” Dimotta said. “It gave everyone an opportunity to present a voice, their opinion. Of course, it is rooted in protected speech, so you are able to come to QPTV and exercise your First Amendment right.”

Stuart Domber, the founder of QPTV who was honored at the exhibition’s unveiling last week, said that when he created the network, he organized it differently than other public access networks in the other boroughs by focusing wholly on free speech.

“We were able to do what we needed to do without politics getting in the way,” Domber said.

QPTV debuted its first program in 1988.

“It took off almost immediately due to the combination of the right people in the right place at the right time,” Domber said

QPTV grew to four channels over the years, presenting up-to-the-date information and producing valuable programming pertinent to people inside and outside Queens.

Knowing the great diversity that characterizes the borough, QPTV dedicated an entire channel to foreign language programming.

“There was a need,” Domber said. “There’s over 100 different languages and dialects that are spoken in Queens.” Domber said.

Domber said that QPTV was free to do whatever it wanted because it didn’t rely heavily on outside funding streams.

“We had enough funds,” he said. “We weren’t beholden to anybody.”

Dimotta discussed some of the programs that distinguished QPTV as a top-tier, community-based service. One he recalled most fondly was a series about mental healthcare in the borough and the avenues available for anyone who might seek help.

“We wanted to raise that awareness and try to have everyone understand that it is an illness and there are opportunities for treatment,” he said.

The six-part series, titled “Understanding Mental Illness,” won the national Hometown Media Award for Informational Talk Show.

Dimotta said facts and statistics alone are important, but what really resonates with viewers are the personal stories.

He recalled doing a series on a local hospital interested in showing off its new technology. Instead, QPTV focused on specific patients, the care they received, and the organizations that aided them.

“They weren’t too interested in telling the story of how to be a patient advocate,” Dimotta said.

As for the future of QPTV, Dimotta hinted he would like to dive deeper into some of its better programs. For instance, he mentioned a spin-off of the health care series.

And with the rise of streaming platforms, Dimotta said that QPTV is already moving in that direction by retooling the facility to meet those needs.

“Without media outlets like QPTV,” Dimotta said, “the community will be fractured.”

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