Why is NCTV17 a Naperville Gem?

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Spotlight host and Naperville Community Television’s (NCTV17) Community Development Director, Jane Wernette, sits down with Executive Director, Elizabeth (Liz) Spencer, and the 2022 President of the Board, Kader Sakkaria to reflect on NCTV17’s big past year and its steadfast commitment to telling Naperville’s stories for years to come.

How has the station celebrated its 35th anniversary year?

“It’s been a huge year. When I was thinking back on this question, I was like, Oh my gosh. So we started with a proclamation from the city council, which was an honor in January. We held a private TV Dinner event in March with Dave Savini , investigative reporter for CBS2, and Governor Pritzker’s Press Secretary and former NCTV17 News Anchor Producer, Jordan Abudayyeh. We had a Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting and open house in May. Rep. Janet Yang-Rohr delivered a State of Illinois recognition to us in September. And in November, we hosted The Morning Show, which was our big first inaugural community fundraising event. And it was a huge success. Throughout the year we’ve done some great video work too with Kevin Machak producing the Naperville Gems. What a way to have a year,” said Liz Spencer.

What impact does having a local television station have on a community like Naperville? 

“It’s an amazing opportunity, where we as community members can be informed, we can get engagement from them, and also make sure that we are able to highlight their stories. That’s an amazing part that NCTV17 does. You know, for me it’s like, how do you actually showcase our high school athletes? For them we give an ESPN moment, which actually stays with them for the rest of their life,” said Kader Sakkaria.

He went on to say, “we try to get our community connected and engaged by showcasing a lot of the events, primarily sporting events or band concerts, and anything to do with the government as well. It’s an amazing way of trying to present the stories and the information to our community members. I also get excited, like when we have events like CAPS, for example. Where we honor the policemen and fire folks. It’s just amazing how we can represent them and showcase what they’ve done for our community.”

How Important is Storytelling to NCTV17?

“I think it’s huge. I think everybody has a story and Naperville is filled with stories. And it’s important that we celebrate everybody’s story and get that told because we all learn from that. Stories bring us together and that’s so important and it is an honor and a privilege to be able to tell someone’s story,” said Spencer.

How is the station funded and why is it more important than ever the community show its support of NCTV17? 

“You know, we are part of the PEG network and so we’re cable exclusive. And so we receive some of the cable franchise money. It’s a small portion of our budget, but it’s a portion that we need that’s about 35%. People are cutting their cable and they’re excited about that. And I always cringe when people say, I cut the cable,” said Spencer.

She continued, “I’m like, you kind of cut us. So that’s a declining revenue source. Our other sources are sponsorship, production, service, and fundraising. And in all of those buckets, we just need more money in that we have a growing team, and more and more resources are needed. So it is more important than ever that media needs the support.  Local media particularly. We have people on our staff who live here and they have families and we have to support them as they help support Naperville and the stories within it.”

Sakkaria agreed by saying, “we are a not-for-profit organization where we actually get some funding through our cable channels. But the biggest thing is going to be everybody in Naperville. We want them to support us. Specifically, as a business owner, I would love to kind of see all the other different business organizations be able to do some type of sponsorship, do some foundation giving, do some philanthropy for us.”

He added, “we are a great storytelling organization. We tell a lot of the local stories, right? And if you look at what the employees of this organization are doing, it’s a lot with very limited resources. So the more we can get additional funding for this TV station, the more we can tell much bigger and better stories that are very community-related. So I would encourage the business community and the individual citizens of Naperville, to be look at NCTV17 as a philanthropic organization to donate to every year, look at a way to make sure that we are on the top of the list so we can continue to tell the story that you’ve been seeing and enjoying for the last 35 years.”

Do other communities have a TV station like Naperville Community Television? 

“No, no, they don’t. We’re very unique. It started 35 years ago when there were many more local-access cable channels. But now we’re one of the few PEG channels in the state of Illinois, there’s roughly 400 nationwide. So there are not a lot of community television stations left. We hear it all the time, especially from other communities when they come and they watch our sports highlights on Naperville Sports Weekly. They’re lucky enough that they playing one of our teams and so we cover them too, and they think that’s great. So that speaks volumes to me that people need a community television station, the world is visual and we want to capture it,” said Spencer.

What makes NCTV17 special – a gem of the community? 

“You know, from my perspective, it’s itself a gem because we consistently showcase all the other gems.  We tell the community stories. So it’s all about keeping the constituents informed, engaged, and connected. So it is an important pathway for us to showcase the stories both on the air and online so that everybody can enjoy them. Plus also share them with their friends and families who are based in town and out of town and around the world. We also want to make sure to keep NCTV as a gem here. We want to make sure we don’t put them behind a paywall. We want to make sure that people have free access to the stories on-demand,” said Sakkaria.

He continued, “so what I would once again want to remind everybody is there’s an opportunity for you to support NCTV so we can start telling more of the stories of the different gems that are going to keep popping up within the city. So I’m excited for the journey that we’re taking and we want to continue to tell the stories.”

Spotlight Guests

Elizabeth Spencer, Executive Director

Kader Sakkaria, 2022 NCTV17 President of the Board

Naperville Community Television (NCTV17)

Founded in 1987, Naperville Community Television (NCTV17) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to telling local stories on-air and online! The station delivers hyper-local news coverage of the people, places, and perspectives that matter to Naperville area residents. From a local perspective on national news to what’s being discussed at Naperville’s City Hall, Naperville News 17 keeps residents informed about what’s happening in their community.

The television station covers local elections, puts viewers curbside at parades, and showcases a wide variety of community events, performances, and presentations. NCTV17 also produces a wide variety of talk shows discussing social issues, business, philanthropy, lifestyle topics, and much more. And on Naperville Sports Weekly the sports reporters cover both boys’ and girls’ varsity sports from all six local area high schools bringing fans the highlights, interviews, and stories not seen anywhere else.

Tune in to Channel 17 on Comcast and WOW!, or Channel 99 on AT&T. You can also view our programming via simulcast and video-on-demand at NCTV17.org. To stay in the know, sign up to receive NCTV17 News Update or subscribe to our YouTube channels or get social with us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

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