ACMi Annual Meeting a Success!

ACMi held its Annual General Meeting on Thursday, November 20. A small crowd of members, volunteers, and town residents came to our main studio at 85 Park Ave. to hear from ACMi President John Leone, Treasurer Kathy Colwell, Executive Director Norm McLeod and the entire staff about the many accomplishments of the 2013-14 fiscal year. Highlights from a very busy year include:

– the birth of the Studio Knights, our prolific production group that meets every Wednesday night;

– the impressive expansion of Arlington Public News, which produced over 200 news segments in 2013-14;

– extensive election coverage that brought more than 40 candidates for state and national office into our studio for interviews and debates;

– new T-shirts that featured the ACMi Soundwave, a distinctive step forward in our branding that has generated a lot of buzz around town.

This news and more was greeted with interest and enthusiasm by those who attended, and the festive atmosphere of the evening seemed appropriate, given the exciting developments that were detailed.

APN Posts Candidate Profiles and Debates for Election 2014

MA_State_Election-GraphicArlington Public News (APN) has just completed a very busy time producing political coverage that YOU can use to make a more informed decision when you enter the voting booth on November 4th! ACMi’s Studio A on Park Ave was the site for 13 candidate profiles and 5 debates over the last couple of weeks.

Watch all the Profiles and Debates right here. The debates involved two political races (Secretary of State, State Representative) and three Ballot Questions (Questions 1, 2, and 5). You can also access more profiles (from the run-up to the Primary Election in September) – including Maura Healy, Deb Goldberg, Ken Donnelly, and Sean Garballey – by going to YouTube and searching APN plus the candidate’s name.

Listen to what the candidates and advocates have to say and make up your own mind,

then cast your vote on November 4th!


Jonathan Barbato runs popular workshop at ACM-NE



ACMi’s Production Coordinator Jonathan Barbato teaching a workshop to a packed house at the Alliance for Community Media’s annual Northeast Regional Meeting. The subject is Mobile Storytelling, or how to pre-produce, shoot, and edit a movie entirely on your smartphone (!), a topic Jonathan has presented workshops on regularly in Cambridge over the last year. As you can see, he is doing us proud!

ACMi adds a THIRD site!

ACMi’s new control room in Arlington’s Town Hall is up and running! As you can see in the photo below, this facility (lodged in a former coatroom!) is fully equipped to cover events in multiple venues within Town Hall. At the project’s ultimate completion later this fall, all the IMG_1142sites in which meetings and events occur (Selectmen’s Room, Hearing Room, Auditorium, and Annex) will be fully wired for video and audio. This will result in more seamless coverage than ever before…and much less shlepping of equipment back and forth between Studio A and Town Hall – YAY!!

The addition of the Town Hall control room marks the next step in ACMi’s ongoing expansion of its reach within the Arlington community. When combined with the existing Studio A in the Heights and Studio B across from the High School, we can truly say that ACMi is all over our town, serving Arlington’s residents by connecting them to important information, services, resources, and each other in more ways than ever. Join us yourself and see what all the excitement is about – membership is just a couple of clicks away! Look for a membership form under the Resources tab on the home page of this website – it’s that easy!


What I learned from our Primary coverage

As you probably know, here at ACMi we have been very busy over the last few weeks with our coverage of the State Primary Elections coming up on Tuesday, Sept 9. We have done in-depth interviews with 24 of the 33 candidates on the ballot, and we also hosted a debate (the one and only one, in fact!) in the race for Governor’s Council. I had the privilege of doing 14 of those interviews, as well as hosting the debate. I am grateful for the chance to participate in this way, both because it is an excellent example of the unique resource we provide for our community, and because the experience offered several revelations for me personally.

Like many of you perhaps, I have lived long enough to grow quite weary of “politics” as we mostly experience them – from the morass of bickering inertia that is the current U.S. Congress, to the strident caterwauling that emits from the respective ends of the political spectrum, to the persistent disconnect between campaign promises and in-office actions. So I’m very happy – thrilled, even – to report that after taking part (either on camera or behind the scenes) in the vast majority of the 24 profiles we have here on our website, I’ve come away with a certain degree of reassurance. Here’s why…

While the candidates we interviewed aspire to 13 different state and national offices, and they represent a very broad range of experience from neophyte to decades in public service, almost to a person they exuded a genuine sense of commitment, even zeal, for this work. Some were more directly responsive to the questions asked than others, but on the whole the candidates displayed a commendable respect for the process, yes, but even more importantly for their audience. Sitting across the desk from the candidates as the proxy for the audience they were speaking to, I could palpably feel the earnestness with which they were attempting to connect and communicate with their constituents, and I have to say it felt real.

In the end, am I more confident that those we vote into office in this round of elections will be better at genuinely and effectively representing the interests of Massachusetts residents than their predecessors may have been? I wish I could shout Yes! to that…

But what I DO believe is that my own time was very well spent listening to what these folks have to say. On Tuesday, I will walk more confidently into the voting booth to exercise MY right and responsibility as a citizen in a more informed way than I ever have, and with the conviction that I will be choosing among a slate of candidates who have earned my thoughtful consideration, and are not simply faceless politicos.

Don’t forget that you can find all the profiles and the full debate here. If you would like to respond to what I’ve written here, please feel free to email me at, and thanks for listening.

ACMi Swings into Community ACTion

We are very excited to announce the inaugural episode of a new series we’re calling Community ACTion. Every Friday morning we will open Studio A to non-profit organizations in Arlington and the surrounding communities, inviting them to come and tell us what they do and how they do it. At ACMi we are always seeking new ways to foster closer connections throughout our community, and helping Arlington residents become better informed about the important services and opportunities provided by our local non-profits is one of our main goals in introducing this new series.

We filmed our first episode this morning! The Young Adult Vocational Program (YAVP)photo 3-2 is a transitional program that provides daily structure for young adults with psychiatric disabilities. YAVP’s Program Director, Ray Thomas, came to Studio A with a number of the program’s clients. Several of them worked behind the scenes on the production, and two  were featured guests, discussing the success they have enjoyed as YAVP participants and the beneficial effect it has had on their lives. Under the artful direction of ACMi’s Jonathan Barbato and Jessica Barnthouse (gotta love those JBs!), the whole shoot went smoothly and was a worthy introduction to what promises to be an exciting, enriching, and highly informative addition to the ACMi schedule.

photo 2-3

If you are connected to a local non-profit or know someone who is, Community ACTion is for YOU. Make arrangements to join us any Friday morning at Studio A and help us and Arlington get to know who you are. Email us at, and we will follow up from there. Let’s make some community magic together!

ACMi is BUZZING this week!

It’s SummerFun Week, and we’re all having a blast with IMG_0326the dozen students who have enrolled in a week-long television production “camp” at ACMi. All the kids are soaking up information like the sponges they are, from camera operation to sound boards to studio IMG_0321production. They will also be learning about how to film events on location, how to do animation, and how to edit what they have shot into a broadcast-quality program. As you can see in these photos, all of us on staff have been taking part in both the instruction and the proceedings, and we have really been enjoying ourselves in the process! And boy, these youngsters sure do pick things up quickly!! IMG_0317IMG_5290 IMG_0319IMG_0316

iPhone Filmmaking for Boston Herald Literacy Champions

Something special occurred last week at the Boston Herald headquarters. A group of diverse educators from around the state were each awarded a $1000 grant for being recognized as Mass. Literacy Champions. ACMi’s Production Coordinator Jonathan Barbato arrived to spread media literacy through an iPhone Filmmaking Workshop.

“Jonathan brought a special energy into the room with his workshop. Everybody was excited about creating videos on their phones and sharing their ideas with others,” says Julie DeFrancesco, Director of Mass Literacy Foundation.Inline image 2

Everyone has the ability to create beautiful videos on-the-fly with a smart phone. Jonathan’s number one tip is to hold your phone in the landscape position, or sideways (see photo above), as opposed to the portrait position, which is upright.