By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
The Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce named Public Access Video LLC as the Small Business of the Year. The company, owned by Jerry Abraham, contracted with the city of Little Falls to run Central Minnesota Access Television (CMAT), channels 6 and 12.
During his time with CMAT, Abraham traveled throughout the community recording huge amounts of programming from festivals, government and school board meetings, parades church services, concerts, sports and more.
As of Nov. 1, 2013, Abraham continued working with a limited contract with Little Falls and as of Jan. 9, he completely retired.
In 1981, Abraham began a job as a math teacher in Bertha.
“I got involved in TV there,” he said. “Bertha had a two-way interactive TV system so when I taught calculus, I had my students plus others from Clarissa and Eagle Bend as part of my class. We could talk to each other via the TV.”
Abraham also advised the school’s Video Club. His employment in Bertha lasted three years.
In 1984, Abraham went to work at Royalton Schools as a math teacher and technology coordinator. He was there for one year. From there he worked at Mid-State Education District, beginning its fiber optic TV system.
“I was there for 21 years. While I loved teaching, I loved technology more,” he said. “I was always impressed with Little Falls being behind the system.”
By law, Abraham said cable companies have to offer at least one channel to each city, but many cities don’t do anything with it.
“In the mid-1980s, Little Falls expanded on the limited cable access available to the city. They had sent a query out to residents who confirmed they wanted it,” he said.
In 1997, Abraham began running channels 6 and 12 when working for Mid-State. It had contracted with Little Falls to run CMAT.
“I left Mid-State in 2006 and formed my own business, Public Access Video LLC. I then contracted with Little Falls to run channels 6 and 12,” he said.
As his company grew, Abraham added more and more programming. First it was the government and school board meetings. Then he had monthly shows with the mayor, county commissioners and superintendents.
“I added the Gary Block Show which talked about the history of Little Falls,” he said. Other programming included the Chamber of Commerce, Great River Arts and sports with Ron Hinnenkamp. Then came the Heartland Symphony, the St. Francis Choir, parades and community events such as the Zoo Boo and the Dam Festival.
“I couldn’t do it all,” he said. “With a limited amount of people, I did the best I could.”
Abraham’s programming ran from 8:30 a.m. – midnight. For a local access company, it was more than any other station within a similar sized community.
“Even though I am retiring, I will continue to volunteer in the office to organize and assist when a new entity takes over,” he said. Currently, Abraham is converting taped broadcasts from VHS to DVD.
“I do still enjoy it,” he said.
When asked if he had any regrets, Abraham said, “I could have finished more projects to improve channels 6 and 12.”
Now retired, Abraham plans to do more volunteering and work around his home. He would also like to start a grass roots organization that provides support for access TV in rural Minnesota.
“I am also a huge baseball fan,” he said. “I have been to all the major baseball parks in the U.S. and Canada except for the two in Florida. I am going this year.”
He has also been to more than 100 minor league baseball stadiums.
Of being named the Small Business of the Year, Abraham said, “This is a great honor. It is nice to be recognized for the work I’ve done in Little Falls. I have lived in this town more than any other city. I now consider it my hometown.”