Under City Hall, in the bottom of the basement, there's this weird warehouse room that feels like someone's garage, but with lights and fans and black curtains—it's the Seattle Channel studio. And in that cramped bunker, producers and technicians and people wearing foundation are doing two things that seem impossible:
1) Producing government TV that isn't banal.*
2) Beating local television at its own game.
Case in point: The Seattle Channel won four Emmys this weekend. Four. The fucking Seattle Channel. The political interview program City Inside/Out, hosted by CR Douglas and produced by Susan Han, won in the politics and government category and in the interview category. Meanwhile, Art Zone with Nancy Guppy won in the arts feature category; and in the category of community reporting, the station got an Emmy for a story on women firefighters. (All the winners are here.)
Of course, the local network affiliates won several awards too. But they have big studios, huge staffs, fleets of hi-tech vans. The Seattle Channel runs on a comparative shoestring (funded largely by Comcast subscriptions as part of a deal to do business in Seattle). But in the political category, the Seattle Channel beat KING 5's signature political show Up Front, which wasn't even nominated.
The elected leaders upstairs have no say in what goes on the air. Sometimes those folks refuse to even come on the shows because—unlike the softball questions you'd expect on state television—the Seattle Channel actually gives them hell, challenging their positions. It used to be that former mayor Greg Nickels wouldn't even go on City Inside/Out.
So three cheers (and four Emmys) to the Seattle Channel!
* I hear you, sometimes the Seattle Channel is pretty dull. But it's a million times more interesting than King County TV (no offense). More to the point, it drives lots of political discussions by fleshing out and flushing out debates. And—and this is huge—it's beating mainstream media at its own game. So huzzah!