Best Public TV Channel

People, Politics, and Media

What is essentially a hands-on process looks like hands-off at the Seattle Channel: Producers make a well-plotted effort to fill SC's 24-hour schedule with impartial programming. Actually, the channel's most concerted struggle to stay in balance might be to keep from becoming the All Greg All the Time Channel. Mayor Greg Nickels seems to show up around the clock on City Hall's public TV outlet (Channel 21 on the Comcast and Millennium cable systems), especially in this election season. Here's Greg stalking the neighborhood for voters, here's Greg announcing another giveaway to Paul Allen, here's Greg barging into the middle of a day-in-the-life profile of police Chief Gil Kerlikowske. But like nonprofit C-SPAN and other government TV channels, the Seattle Channel does give viewers an up-close look at the sausage-making, sometimes-snoring process of government and politics with live broadcast and replays of City Council (and council committee) meetings. There's also a mix of public hearings, community events, and Town Hall presentations. Interspersed is a variety of truly watchable TV, such as the occasional short biopic on such memorable Seattleites as martial arts film star Bruce Lee, pioneering KJR DJ Pat O'Day, and the venerable Blue Moon Tavern. Overseen by General Manager Gary Gibson, a former KCTS-TV producer, the Seattle Channel also showcases independent filmmakers profiling political and civic figures, neighborhood projects, and music and arts events. Gibson has assembled a solid, eclectic lineup of serious-to-funny interview shows and regular reports hosted by C.R. Douglas, Mike James, Eric Liu, Karl Krogstad, Kelly Guenther, Lowell Deo, Nancy Guppy, the eccentric-seeking J. Kingston Pierce, the history-linking Walt Crowley, and, of course, the book-lusting Nancy Pearl. Gibson also hosts interviews, such as his chat with Jim Compton about the City Council member's 77-year-old Alaskan-built wooden boat that he called "the joy of my life." SC has

a hip and interactive Web site, as well, with streaming video, a synopsis of current city issues, and a live scroll of the latest local headlines. There are background and in-depth reports on the monorail project, South Lake Union development, broadband technology, viaduct replacement, and the financial struggle of the Seattle Public Schools. It's so well done, you have to wonder: How could this possibly be a government project?

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