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From the Vaults: 'Viewers Like Us'

It's always time to celebrate Austin's community television

By Marjorie Baumgarten, 2:30PM, Fri. Aug. 2, 2013

From the Vaults: 'Viewers Like Us'

This weekend, channelAustin – the city's public-access TV station that's been a template for the rest of the country – celebrates 40 years of operation with a series of special events. Although the Chronicle hasn't been around quite that long (we'll mark our 32nd anniversary next month), we were around in 1998 when the station had its 25th anniversary.

It was clear to us in 1998 that 25 years of continuous operation was a very big deal for an outfit that's often the living embodiment of the best and worst of democracy in action. A historical survey of those first 25 years, "What a Long Strange Trip It's Been," ran in our June 5, 1998 issue. The story details the initial legal wranglings and players that got the first signal up and running. It wasn't that long ago that VHS didn't even exist as a format," noted the author Michael Bertin.

Things have gone digital since then, and several name changes have occurred along the way toward channelAustin becoming the entity it is now at 40. "By the People, for the People" in the current issue highlights some of that history. See www.channelAustin.org for a rundown of this weekend's events, which kick off tonight at the Marchesa Hall & Theatre with a double bill of Richard Linklater's 1991 film Slacker and the community remake Slacker 2011.

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