Waterloo Community Access TV “WLOO” began its service to the City of Waterloo in 1988. It all started when City Council Alderperson, Wilma Woodruff brought up the subject at a council meeting. Bill Wendt, having done some research on cable access, prior to this time, contacted Woodruff to discuss the subject. An informal committee was formed, made up of Alderpersons, Wilma Woodruff, and Bob Thompson, Citizens, Bill & Carol Wendt, School Representatives, Kathy Knoke and Karen Kavanagh.

Most communities funded their cable access programming with the annual franchise fees paid to them by the cable provider in the community. The City Council approved the use of the franchise fees to fund the operation. After funding was set we contacted the cable company, Total TV, to take the next step. We discovered that when the community was wired, provisions for the access programming were located at the high school. Working with the school district we found some space in a store room to serve as our home base. Shelving was purchased to divide the space and provide storage for both entities. Total TV set up the connections and equipment to cablecast on the channel reserved for access programming in Waterloo. They also provided us with some basic equipment, Camera, VCR, Character generator, Lights and Microphone.

Bill Wendt was appointed as the Cable Coordinator to operate the channel. Now that we had a home, equipment, and some funds we were ready to go. Let’s just say we had a good start. We were able to post some basic announcements, limited to 16 pages/slides with 8 lines per page, and started taping City Council meetings for playback. The only problem was that everything had to switched and played manually. Eventually we found equipment to automate our channel, and increase the playback capacities.

Our first major production was the 1988 high school state football tournament. Lacking enough equipment and experience, we worked with the well established Kids 4/ KSUN channel in Sun Prairie and their “sports group” taped the game at Camp Randall Stadium for us. The board members and coordinator had an interesting week planning and organizing the event.

Our second access channel was first put to use for the cablecast of WKOW TV27 from Madison. It had been removed from the channels line-up in Waterloo. After a survey showed most of the citizens wanted it back we negotiated with the cable company to provide the necessary equipment to accomplish that. A few years later WKOW returned to the channel lineup and we now were able to use this channel as out video programming channel. This allowed the announcements to be on at all times and not interrupted by programs.

With a limited budget and the high price of electronics our growth has been slow, but steady. We attempted to keep up with technology through the years and after a few years of saving we were able to purchase additional equipment to do some of the basic video production. Some of our first productions were school concerts, sporting events and other local produced programs. We also added the regular presentation of the school board meetings and church services.

The Cable Franchise was up for renewal in the mid 90’s and the committee was turned into an official board to represent the City of Waterloo in the negotiations and also operate the two access channels. By now the Town of Portland received cable and our access channels so they also appointed a representative to the board also. A survey was done as part of this process and provided a 50% response. We found out that along with the usual problems with the cable provider, the community wanted to see more local events on the channel.

With the renegotiation of the franchise the cable company would rebuild their distribution system to provide better service. We also requested that access connection points be provided at the library and city hall for future use.

As part of the 2001 remodeling of the city hall/police station we were able to negotiate some space to set up an additional studio there. This would become our new home base and the school studio would be used as a remote location. After a few more years of saving (and a little compound interest) we were finally able to start the expansion of our operations. Although, not without a few problems and failures of our aging equipment at the school studio. Our channels were off line for about a month, due to those equipment failures, as we were setting up the city hall location. Through successful budgeting we came back strong and now are able to compete with technology.

In the year 2008 we celebrated 20 years of service to the city. Our goal to increase our programming was coming into view and we were able to hire a part time Director, Brennon Hechimovich. Bill Wendt could now focus on doing the technical work needed to keeping the station operational.