4 Reasons I wish I volunteered more in college

4 Reasons I Wish I Volunteered More in College

Ah yes, it’s another bitter post grad here to tell you what you should be doing with your life. As double humanity major in college I had plenty of people and think pieces giving me advice, some of it good, some not so much. But for all the Forbes articles I read about the top 20 companies I should be applying for internships with, volunteering was never really on my radar. Now two years out of school and two years into public service, I’ve come to see how valuable volunteering can be for college students, and young people in general (current self-included). Here are four reasons why you should consider volunteering:


It’s an easier time commitment than an internship.

In a world where student loans are common and paid internships are rare, it can be hard to commit your time to an unpaid internship over a part-time job while you are in school–I worked all throughout my college years and didn’t have the time for an internship until my last semester. Volunteering is a great alternative way to experience different organizations and learn about the jobs that are out there without overloading your schedule.


It gives you an in for jobs that are not posted yet.

Oftentimes jobs will be posted internally before being listed publicly. This is especially true if you’re volunteering for a political campaign and looking to get hired as a legislative aide or other government position post-election or post-graduation–something I learned when I finally got around to phone-banking for a campaign my senior year.


It will give you a well-rounded CV.

Part-time jobs and internships are standard for college students these days, but volunteering experience outside your major or industry focus is a great way to showcase your other interests (and skills) to employers and grad schools. A unique volunteering experience can be the thing that sets you apart from the other piles of candidates.


Volunteering matters in the nonprofit world.

If you’re looking to go into Americorps like me, or the nonprofit sector in general, volunteering experience not only looks good, it gives you something to talk about in job interviews. Many nonprofits engage with volunteers in some form, so it’s not hard to see how it can be a pipeline to employment. I have personally recruited multiple volunteers who then ended up getting jobs with the organizations I worked for later on.


Interested in volunteering at CTV? Visit our volunteer page to see what opportunities we have coming up!

A Guide to CTVs New Mission

A Guide to CTV’s Mission

Okay, there have been a lot of changes at CTV. The budget has changed, leadership has changed, the organization has been restructured, and now we have a new mission. There is a lot going on at CTV, and we are excited you are here for the ride.

The North Suburban Cable Commission adopted CTV’s new mission on October 25th at the NSAC meeting. Now that it is in place, we are inviting our community members and volunteers along to help move forward in this new direction.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the mission itself. We’ll break down the language to understand how this will impact our volunteers.

We Produce Community Focused

Digital Media for the Purpose

of Education and Engaging our Citizens.

Group shot, Dale Irving, Maureen Anders, Mike Freeman, Dana Healy, Pat Cook, in front of TV

We Produce

“We produce” means CTV is taking ownership of the programs being produced in the facility. CTV is moving away from the traditional public access model.

The traditional public access model allowed for any community member to come into the facility, take courses, and create any kind of programming they wanted within the nonrestrictive policies.

Don’t get me wrong, WE LOVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH! We also love CREATIVE PEOPLE MAKING CREATIVE PROGRAMMING! But, unfortunately due to drastic cuts in our funding, we had to make difficult decisions.

Since the technology to create video content is so much more advanced than 30 years ago, we believe the need for the community itself was not in the actual equipment usage, but rather in creating quality local programming. By eliminating public access, we will have more tools to create programming for our communities.

“Great, but what about my show? Can I still make it?”

With CTV taking ownership of the programs, we can decide to continue your show. Many of the current volunteer shows are perfectly aligned with our mission. We will continue to work on those programs. For future program, we are asking volunteers to pitch proposals to us, just like a Hollywood studio would! So keep those pitches coming, so we can keep making great programming.

Community Focused

“Community Focused” means we are producing content related to hyperlocal events and relative content pertaining to our 9 cities: Arden Hills, Falcon Heights, Lauderdale, Little Canada, Mounds View, New Brighton, North Oaks, Roseville, St. Anthony Minnesota.

Content you will see from us will be coverage of our city parades, state of the city addresses, public service announcements for fire or police departments, magazine shows like North Suburban Beat, concerts, sports games, LIVE studio shows enriching our community, as well as paid-for productions.

Things that we covered in the past that is outside of our 9 cities, will not be covered now unless it is a paid-for production. For inquiries about our video production services, check out our services page.


Digital Media

“Digital Media” is a beautiful blend of technology and content that is created or digitized on a computer. Prior to the internet (can we even think back that far?), information was delivered to audiences via print, then radio, then television. With the rise of computers and technology, the power to distribute content is accessible to almost everyone.

Although we have a responsibility to deliver content via cable to our residents, we understand the trends of technology and are moving in the digital direction.

Whenever available, we will be creating content on high definition equipment and moving our volunteers in that direction as well. This will include our production truck usage.


For the Purpose of Education and Engaging

“for the Purpose of Educating and Engaging” helps define the type of content that is important to our community members. We want to deliver content that will be consumed, watched, and shared by people. In order to do that, we need to inform and teach people about things going on in their community.

For example, we provide a platform for candidates running for office to appeal to their voters and talk about their platforms during our Speak Out series. This type of education and engaging aligns with our mission.

Another example would be municipal meeting coverage of your government meetings. CTV covers many of our 9 cities meetings. If your city is interested in our video services related to municipal coverage, check out our service page.

We also offer coverage of local sports, and community events that wouldn’t be covered by network news station. We are your hyper-local source for community information.



Our Citizens

“Our Citizens” means we are here for the citizens located in our nine cities. We need to hear from you the content that educate and engages you. We need you to share our content with your friends, so we can help all of our community be informed about local happenings. Let’s start here, SHARE THIS ARTICLE with your friends, council members, coworkers! Let people know the awesome changes happening at CTV, and we look forward to experiencing those changes with you.

WATCH our Mission Video

7 Things to Look fo rain a Social Media Manager

7 Things to Look for in a Social Media Manager

A social media presence is a necessity for businesses. For a lot of businesses, there is a lack of strategy behind their social media posting. “Hey, take a picture, put that up! Looks good!”

The truth is, to be successful at social media strategy, there needs to be an actual strategy, a plan, and someone who can design or communicate that plan to you.

Are you ready to engage with a social media manager? Here are some key things they should be bringing to the table to successfully guide your business’s’ social media campaigns.


1. Communications Strategy

A Social Media Manager needs to have a strong understanding of your core competencies and services, as well as your intended goals. They can map out how your social media strategy will support those goals and bolster your services.

2. Metrics

Clearly defined goals and timelines can help convert leads and expand your social media fan base. SMART goals, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely, are helpful for defining your social media metrics. When engaging with your Social Media Manager, ask for specific goals to measure success to be defined. Social media comes with a battery of analytic tools.

3. Graphic Design Skill

Many Social Media Managers utilize graphics tools like Adobe Photoshop or Canva to create eye-catching content that represents your business. Skill in graphic design is a necessity to engage the customer. If posts are not composed properly, it can reduce engagement or follows.

4. Customer Service Orientated

Social media is now the go-to option for upset customers. A customer-first attitude is important to mitigate any situations quickly, and moving any problems offline. Your brand is represented in every comment and post on social media. A poorly thought out reply to an upset customer can devalue your brand. Ensure that doesn’t happen with a customer service orientated person in place.

5. Writing Skills

The majority of social media interaction is written. Whereas there are plenty of photos and video to strengthen the message, it is important for your Social Media Manager to be able to articulate your brand message accurately.

6. SEO and Marketing Knowledge

SEO, Search Engine Optimization, and marketing knowledge are necessary to drive visitors to your website from your social media accounts. They may not be an SEO expert, but they should have an overall understanding of how social media content fits with blog posts, and how both of them support your business’s marketing funnel.

7. Paid Advertising

Your Social Media Manager should have experience with developing audiences, designing ad campaigns, and executing the ads. Paid for advertising needs to be specifically targeted to the correct audience based on behaviors. Ask them about their experience with designing ad campaigns to your particular audience.

Social Media Coordination is an aspect of your business that will enhance your communications to your customers and clients. If you have more questions about Social Media Coordination, check out our service page to see what CTV can offer you.

What other aspects do you find important in a Social Media Manager?

4 Tips for Using Your Youtube Channel

4 Tips for Using Your YouTube Channel

YouTube channels are as popular as ever and many times the first place people look to watch content.  Here are a few tips should you decide to start your own YouTube channel.

1.Check your analytics

You want to create content that is engaging. With an estimate of over 3 billion searches on YouTube every month, it’s still one of the most popular sites that people use to search for information. So watch time will impact YouTube searches and suggested content.

YouTube, just like Google, wants viewers to have a good experience when surfing their site. YouTube tracks engagement and favors the videos that are most engaging at the top of the search results.

To check on how engaging your videos are, look at your channel’s analytics:
Video Manager > Analytics > Interest Viewers > then click on the individual

2. Don’t settle for the default thumbnail

Youtube will pick a thumbnail for you, but you can easily capture the best moment in your video with a screen capture or a photo. Access the thumbnail change area by clicking on Edit Video and click on Custom Thumbnail.  YouTube will ask for you to upload, just realize it cannot be larger than 2 MB.  The thumbnail image can help attract viewers to watch!

3. Create playlists

Playlists are searchable and can show up as suggestions.  CTV’s YouTube Channel features a playlist for each of our nine cities.  By creating a playlist, it’s a great way to get your other videos in front of the right audience.  This should also increase watch-time and creates another way for your videos to appear in search results and suggested videos.

4. Use chapter marks

YouTube allows you to chapter mark events in your video.  For example, if you are posting a full game or concert on your channel, you can mark when certain highlights or events occur in your video.  By going into Edit Video; enter into the Description Field the timecode of the event and then you can enter a brief description after. Below is an example:
00:32               Touchdown Pass Cook to Domke
Viewers can click on the timecode and it takes them right to the highlight.

I hope these hints help your YouTube channel!

5 ingredients of a great cooking vlog

5 Ingredients of a Great Cooking Vlog

Are you thinking of starting a cooking vlog? Whether you want to create a dedicated YouTube channel, or just occasionally share videos through your restaurant’s social media accounts, vlogging is a great way to visually engage your audiences. A well-curated, creative vlog can even attract sponsors! Here are five ingredients that will make your videos stand out:

Use time lapses

Good editing is your friend. Time-lapse is a way to speed up longer processes and keep your viewers from losing interest–this vlogger fit 20 Cheesecake recipes into one video by using time lapses throughout. Add music over top and you are on your way to a professional quality video.

Incorporate graphics

It sounds obvious, but a video is a visual medium, so take advantage. Use graphics to help viewers follow along with your recipes–it will also save you from having to read off all the measurements as you cook! This vlog uses almost no dialogue, letting the graphics speak for themselves.

Pick recipes with a common thread

This is where your personal brand comes in. Do you want to use only locally sourced ingredients in your recipes? Or maybe you specialize in comfort food? Choosing a common thread for your vlogs will help tell viewers who you are, and attract a target audience. My personal favorite is Binging with Babish, who recreates food from movies!

Practice acting natural!

The best vloggers don’t sound scripted (although it is a good idea to have at least a rough script)! Practice speaking in front of the camera until you feel comfortable, and don’t be afraid to add some humor or personal commentary to your videos–this gives your audience something to relate to! Check out the BoxMac guys, whose vlogs are part comedy, part mac and cheese tests

Be consistent

Last but not least, pick a consistent timeline for posting. You may need to experiment a little, but try to give yourself a reasonable amount of time to create new videos, and then stick to it–once a week may be way too much if you run a restaurant full time.

4 tips for instaworthy food photos

4 Tips for Insta-Worthy Food Photos

1. Shoot overhead

This is especially true when you have strong shapes, such as circles or triangles. It is especially good with open-faced food where it can display all its ingredients. When shooting overhead, make sure it is on a surface that is pleasing to the eye. Here, the wood gives the image a nice rustic feel. The surface can say a lot about the kind of restaurant it is made in.



2. Get Closer!

Get close up to your food! This is especially true when you have multiple textures or want to show seasoning on the food. This is also a great time to use portrait mode on your phone, which can give it a pleasing shallow focus, allowing you to see a single point of the food.



3. Focus on One Point

This is especially good to separate the main component of the dish from its other components. Here, the shallow focus allows the olive to stand out from the more colorful toppings around it. The reds and greens draw the eye, but the shallow focus on the olive allows it to stand out.



4. Emphasize color

Colors pop! Vibrant colors draw the eye and attract us much quicker than more subdued images. If you have a color plate, really put those colors front and center. You can increase the color of your images by turning up vibrancy or saturation on your images after you take them but beware: overdoing the colors can make the food look unnatural and less appetizing as a result.


IT Intern Experience by Blong Thao

My IT Intern Experience – Blong Thao

My name is Blong Thao and I am a CTV North Suburbs IT Intern.

I love the hands-on environment. By hands-on, I mean that you get to touch the IT equipment such as assembling a Synology files server and making it work or helping to build a rack server among others.

Not only do you get to build machines but you also get to troubleshoot them if any issue arises. Of course, don’t think that building computers will be the only thing you do. There is staff on site as well and sometimes you get to help them with their computers or other technology-related issues.

You will get to know Apple products as MacOS really well. Then there is other CTV’s website. Being given the ability to see how a website works and play around with it, is fun. Ah ha! That’s where the banner is located. How much fun is it to upload content and see it working, doing backups, finding problems and trying to solve it…time sure flies.

Being an IT intern at CTV has taught me a lot of things all the while helping me improve and get experience in IT skills I already have.

5 things every restaurant should be doing on social media

5 Things Every Restaurant Should be Doing on Social Media

More than 200 million posts are tagged #food and 23 million #drinks. Clearly, people love the good old instant-worthy picture of a broken egg yolk or part (latte-art, your welcome).

If you’re a restaurant reading this and you are currently not using social media, let’s chat.

Inactivity on social media means you are missing out on a BIG customer base. According to a report done by Sprout Social 75% of people purchase products because they have scrolled past them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Of that percentage, 60.7% need to see a post 2-4 times from a restaurant before making a purchase or visiting their location. Here are 5 things you should be doing!

1) Don’t Make Your Customers Search Far

This may seem relatively simple but it is so important. Make information readily available and easy to find. Make sure you have your hours and contact information easily accessible on your profile. On Facebook, you can even enter the popular times of the day to visit. Be direct and keep in simple, the fewer clicks they take to find information the better!

2) Encourage and Respond to Online Reviews

This kind of interaction with your customers shows you care about their feedback. It gives your establishment a more personal and intimate relationship with your guests. It also gives you a chance to redeem a bad experience a customer might have had.

 3) Partner with Your Customers

Your customers provide word of mouth advertising. When people are posting about you and sharing pictures reshare and repost! They become your brand ambassadors, and it is essentially free marketing

4)  Focus on Your Location

Use Facebook’s location-based advertising tools. Ads will pop up when people are in a certain radius of your establishment. According to a report done by NinthDecimal’s Mobile Audience Insights Report, store visits increased 80% within the 1st day a mobile ad was served compared to average store visits.

5)  Use Video to Bring Your Brand to Life

Tell your restaurant’s story through visual storytelling. Food video content has grown by 59% in the last year and social engagement on food videos rose 118%. Now more than ever people want to food-related content through video. Video brings customers into your space and makes them feel as if they are there with you, if only they could smell the food through the camera…guess they’ll have to visit to do that!

A Note in Appreciation of Our Volunteers

A Note in Appreciation of Our Volunteers

I recently found out that a long time volunteer producer had passed away.  I found out when his daughter returned some equipment that we had loaned to him for an extended length of time.  His name was Everett LaBuda.

Everett came to CTV in 2006 and produced many mini-documentaries for us about St. Paul’s east side and was working on a video about the makeover of the state capital.  Everett was quite a character that had a love of video production and telling a story.  His daughter told me that he always talked about CTV and how we were family to him.

Everett’s passing reminded me that the value of volunteering, for whatever the cause, is as important for your inner peace as going to church or any other activity connected to your day to day existence.

Think about your cause, how do you feel after volunteering at CTV?  I suppose there are days where it seems it could have gone better but for the most part, you were always engaged with the production, the crew and the content of the program.  The good productions were great to be a part of and the not so good productions were still good to be a part of with your friends!  In other words, it mattered.

CTV is going through a mission change that I feel will benefit the quality of your volunteer experience.  CTV staff and volunteers alike will be able to work together to produce Community Focused content that matters to our viewers no matter the format. Relevant programming matters when it educates and engages.  Working together will only make our communities stronger.

Thank you, Everett for your work, passion, and desire to educate us on programs and organizations that mattered to all of us.


Tim Domke

How to Choose the Right Camera Angle for the Job

How to Choose the Right Camera Angle for the Job

In this blog, I’m going to give you a quick beginner guide on how to frame a shot properly and what you can do to make your videos more professional. This information is especially useful if you have any interest in becoming a production assistant at CTV *wink*. Now you don’t have to go to film school, you’re welcome.

1.Nobody likes looking at unlevel shots

camera angle






Unleveled shots are what you’ll find throughout all of Battlefield Earth; which is a terrible movie. Unless you want to convey either A) an unnerving scene or B) that your tripod is malfunctioning, avoid them entirely. Use the bubble on your tripod or (if a tripod is unavailable) look for something in your shot that is level with the ground to use as a reference.

2. Focus your shot

camera angle


This is a mistake made frequently by amateurs, I was no less guilty of this myself when I was younger. It can be easy to forget about fundamental steps such as this in the creative “heat of the moment.” (Also, yes, that was me in the gorilla suit. If you want to know the full story behind that video, ask me in person when you get a job as a CTV production assistant *wink* *wink*).

In order to check that your shot is in focus, move the focus wheel in and out to check the clarity of the shot. I’m usually sure to recheck this before each shot. No matter what your eyes may tell you, the viewfinder is very small, so the full definition of the angle can be difficult to gauge with just a cursory glance.

3. Don’t forget composition!

Now we’re getting to the hard stuff. For this, I’ll have to call upon some sacred geometry.

First, look at this symbol. Metatron’s Cube: the flower of life, a shape that reflects power and judgment. Using this archaic geometry, we can deduce the proper way to frame our shot. Use caution, as simply staring at this symbol for too long has been known to induce paralysis, insanity and even death.

With that in mind, this may be too advanced for most of our readers, so I’ll simplify it a little bit.

    Behold! The Grid of Thirds!

Now this involves elements of creative alchemy that can be quite versatile and easily tamed. Thus, it is perfect for beginners. No summoning of eldritch horrors to be found here.

To utilize The Grid of Thirds, place any subjects of interest at one of the intersecting points on the grid. If you’re filming people, it’s important to keep your subject’s eyes in the top row with extra space on whatever side of the frame they’re facing towards.

Por ejemplo, look at this shot of Jim from The Office, that lovable rabscallion…

camera angle

This is a great example of an interview shot format. Notice how his eye level lines up with the top row and is intersected by the rightmost vertical grid line. His whole body aligns with the right third and he is looking off to our left. He also has proper headspace above him and just looks at that cheeky grin.

This principle also applies to film inanimate objects, be sure that your subject is “facing out” of the shot with enough space. Notice how this rubber ducky is facing the empty part of the shot

Even though rubber duckies aren’t alive (or so I’m told), they should still be held to the same compositional standards as something that is.

Now here’s an example without the grid lines.

Notice that while Harold here is looking at the camera, he is firmly in the right third and the laptop he is very convincingly typing on, is in the lower left third. This is a well-composed, perfectly functional shot, which is exactly what you should expect from a stock image lab. However I would recommend googling “bad stock images,” it’s a trip.

Now for a test! How does the image below stack up to our criteria for a good shot?

Really take your time, there’s a cash prize at the end.


Answer: First of all, the shot is level and in focus. The color composition is very pleasing to the eye, but there is a very key component that deviates from our set rules. Notice the location of the dock. The end of the dock is outside of the thirds, plus it’s pointing off to the left of the shot while being located in the left half of the shot. Far too much empty space is shown on the right side of the shot.  This is improper composition and is a severe and punishable offense. Production assistants found guilty of framing a shot in such an improper manner are left for a minimum of two hours in


Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the box on-hand. It was recently destroyed since keeping people in a cramped space against their will is some sort of “workspace human rights violation.”

Anyway, now you know the basics of framing a shot. Remember to keep it level, check your focus, and use the rule of thirds. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to stop by one of our camera classes. These will go much more in depth than I could with this blog post for how to properly shoot a video. Yes, that was a shameless plug, however, I believe that any practical experience with cameras can help any aspiring photographer of cameraman greatly. So stop on by! We don’t bite.

Except for Dale. Dale bites.