Cape Cod's Premier Senior Living Community
(Originally published in Wicked Local Yarmouth)
By Conor Powers-Smith
Cape Cod seniors have a new viewing option, thanks to a local TV series launched this month by Thirwood Place in South Yarmouth and the Cape Cod Community Media Center in Dennis Port. Cape Cod Senior Navigator, a monthly half-hour program geared toward all aspects of senior life, will air Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays on Channel 99, with each episode also available on YouTube and other digital destinations.
Paula Hersey, director of outreach and special projects at the media center, said Senior Navigator fills an important void in Channel 99?s lineup. “We didn’t really have anything specific to the senior population, which is a huge part of our audience,” she said. “The more varied we can be for our audience, the better channel we’ll be.”
The show has been in the works for over a year, with Thirwood staff taking classes in editing and studio and field production provided by the media center, in preparation for stepping into what for them were largely uncharted waters.
“We’re trying to make it look as professional as we can, and I think each one will improve with that,” said Beth Patkoske of the Davenport Companies, which owns Thirwood, and executive producer and director of Senior Navigator. “I think it will just get easier as we go forward.”
Patkoske and Devon Gallivan, the show’s assistant executive producer, have become familiar with the high-tech recording and editing equipment the media center boasts, but still make frequent use of the staff on hand there to answer questions and offer suggestions. “It’s not just the equipment, it’s the people,” said Patkoske. “Everyone here has been helpful with the process. Not only helpful, but enthusiastic.”
The first episode launched recently, featuring an interview with professional organizer Maryann Murphy, who offered tips on eliminating clutter. Each episode will follow a standard format, with a 15-minute interview followed by three five-minute segments, each of which will feature lists of five items; in the case of the first episode, ingredients for creating a quick and easy meal, movies to watch when stuck inside, and winter safety tips.
The first episode was devoted to winter, and each subsequent installment will also be organized around a central theme. February’s will highlight American Heart Month, featuring both an interview with a Cape Cod Healthcare cardiologist, and a nod toward Valentine’s Day with five great love songs.
“We’re trying to do a different theme to keep it interesting,” said Patkoske. “I think for the first six months we’ll focus on this format, then gather feedback on that.” Future themes will include arts and culture, gardening, and technology, the last featuring a segment with Hersey.
Cape Cod Senior Navigator airs three times each week on Channel 99, Mondays at 10:30 a.m., Wednesdays at 8 p.m., and Fridays at 1:30 p.m. Episodes can also be seen at www.thirwoodplace.com, or on the YouTube channels of Thirwood Place and the Cape Cod Community Media Center.
“They’re all targeted specifically to seniors,” said Patksoke, adding that younger viewers will likely find many of the segments useful as well. Suggestions for future themes, segments, and guests are welcomed. “If anyone has suggestions, they should go to our Facebook page, or they can contact us directly.”
Larry Lyford, director of sales and marketing at Thirwood and the host of Senior Navigator, is enjoying his new role. “It’s always been something I’ve wanted to explore.” He’s looking forward to drawing on the varied roster of experts in many fields offered by the local community.
“The show is really about navigating through life on the Cape for seniors,” Lyford said. “Every one is so different, and they can bring so much.” Residents of Thirwood with views and knowledge to offer will be a staple of the show.
Early feedback has been positive, said Lyford, who checked the first episode’s popularity several hours after it was posted online. “The response has been pretty good,” he said. “We had already had 55 views, just in the course of a few hours, just on that one YouTube channel.”
Digitizing Channel 99?s distribution has made all its content much more accessible, allowing viewers to watch Senior Navigator and other shows when and how they choose. “That’s the change in our model, that it’s produced once, then distributed in a number of ways,” said Hersey. “They basically live forever.”
Views and website hits allow the media center to monitor the popularity of its shows to some extent, but there is a surer indicator that a program has caught on. “We don’t have Nielsen ratings in public access,” Hersey said. “I’m waiting for the day Larry calls me and says, ‘Someone recognized me in Stop and Shop.’”