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Examining Volunteerism & A Most Precious Public Treasure

Recently, I was asked to volunteer my efforts on behalf of Dyn. The job? Become a phone receptionist for a live auction broadcast for New Hampshire Public Television (NHPTV), taking place at the University of New Hampshire.

NHPTV has been the Granite State’s only statewide locally owned and operated TV network for over 50 years, offering award-winning, locally focused programs and the best of PBS for television and online viewing. NHPTV has always been focused on community, education and enriching the lives of all people.

Dyn - NHPTV
Mikel and Kelly model during the auction.

The spring auction was a live telethon dedicated to raising funds for the station — funds that typically go directly to “keeping the lights on.” Equipment, programming, events, utilities and the staff to keep those things managed are in most cases the bottom line reason for these types of public television fundraising events.

My wife Lisa and I find that we volunteer regularly. Usually, it is due to a need for leadership, representation or action for our local church, school board, NH Down Syndrome organizations or in our local community of Troy where we represent the Troy Recreation Committee and Samuel E. Paul War Memorial Park Commission.

Being a full time manager of a high-pace technology company, a dad of two boys under the age of two (one of which has Down Syndrome and has been in and out of Boston Children Hospital) and commuting three hours per day, one would safely assume I would have every right to say, “No, thank you.”

However in this instance and without hesitation, I said YES!

Was it because of my love for Sesame Street, Dinosaur Train, Word Girl, Charlie Rose or the PBS Business Hour? Not specifically, even though these are all wonderful programs that my children, wife, parents and grandparents enjoy. The real answer stems from my background and perspective on community and being a commanding and loving, intense and casual, big picture focused and task master Christian, husband, father, manager, son, grandson, and colleague of those I cherish and respect.

I have a television background. I cut my teeth in the entertainment business, performing, filming, editing, creating commercials, directing, technical directing and doing satellite broadcast engineering starting in the late 90s. I went all the way up to managing and engineering featured events like HBO Boxing, Showtime Boxing, UFC, PGA golf and various NBA, NHL and MLB events.

In a world of metrics and team missions to monitor, analyze and report viewership and commercial ratings. I cherish the idea that New Hampshire Public Television (PBS) cares about a different rating: public trust.

This is a concept that seems to have gone by the wayside over the past 25 years with most broadcasters. The very nature of how a modern broadcast entity survives is based on the idea of corporations buying commercial time and sponsorships to package around 18 minutes of specifically produced PG to M rated programs that include violence, sex and topics that I personally would be embarrassed to have on my television while hosting a gathering.

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Mikel looks on while the auction is in full swing.

When people look for shows on statewide events, science, nature, community vendors or people, or even programs their children can watch, they turn first to public television. I firmly believe we would have a different America if public television did not exist. It is widely known (Google it) in the television arena that public television does an excellent job of mixing news and public affairs with a non-bias persuasion.

Rather than debasing life, public television has an ethical commitment to the community to provide thoughtful, intelligent, constructive, awareness or entertainment to the viewership. When you tune in to a PBS station like NHPTV, there is an expectation of a moral transaction between the station and you.

Many, including myself, have been fortunate to be inspired by Fred Rogers and Big Bird, Bob Ross and Ken Burns, Charlie Rose and Tavis Smiley. One of my proudest moments every year (which I had the honor of broadcasting to all of America), was America’s Memorial Day and 4th of July Live Concerts, held on the lawn of the United States Capitol and produced by PBS.

I am honored and proud to have been asked by the leadership of this company to help represent Dyn, my family and the communities of this wonderful state to devote my time and energy to one of the greatest mediums — public television — in America today.

It is wonderful to know that our little start-up from Manchester, NH who has scaled tremendously still aspires to be directly engaged in the fabric of New Hampshire’s grassroots and feels a heavy responsibility to be involved with local communities, politics, companies and organizations much like New Hampshire Public Television.


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Whois: Mikel Steadman

Mikel Steadman was the Director of Sales and Solutions Engineering at Oracle Dyn, a pioneer in managed DNS and a leader in cloud-based infrastructure that connects users with digital content and experiences across a global internet.