County residents to become stars of new cable lineup

HANCOCK COUNTY — Local historians, business owners and residents are now the stars of a new lineup of TV shows broadcast to homes across the county.

Local cable provider NineStar Connect has launched several new programs highlighting various aspects of the community. Topics include cooking, county history, high school sports and more, with Hancock County residents serving as the experts. The programs are broadcast to about 4,000 subscribers on NineStar’s channel 9.

Hancock County historian Joe Skvarenina’s show, “Step Back in Time,” premiered in August and focuses on historic people, places and events in the county’s history. The first episode highlighted the history of Nameless Creek campground. Upcoming episodes will feature stories about famed local artist Will Vawter and the history of the county jail.

Opinions about certain historical events often differ from person to person, but Skvarenina said he hopes the show gives him a chance to share a broad perspective.

“There are lots of books written about certain historical events, but sometimes there are different interpretations,” he said. “This gives an opportunity to tell the different sides about the exciting things that have happened here.”

It’s important to look to the past and learn from it, Skvarenina added.

“It’s a good way for people to appreciate the past and look to a brighter future,” he said.

“Renaissance Chef,” starring local chef Ian Harrison, debuted in June and has developed a following.

“I’ve had a lot of people … say that they saw my show and loved it,” he said.

In the first episode, Harrison, owner of Carnegie’s restaurant in Greenfield, showed audiences how to cook asparagus risotto using fresh ingredients. In the second, he shot his own footage during a fishing trip to Minnesota and demonstrated how to prepare and cook fresh fish as well as the best summer salads to pair it with.

He said NineStar producers have given him free rein over the content of his program.

“It’s nice because they let me be as creative as I want,” he said. “I come up with all the ideas for my shows, which is nice because it stretches me to try different things.”

David Spencer, marketing director at NineStar, said the company is making the push to provide local content to stand out from big-name cable providers.

The goal of the shows is simple, Spencer said.

“We’re just hoping to tell the stories of who our locals are, what they do, where they came from and what the community is all about,” he said. “We want something that our audience will be able to relate to.”

The new shows are funded through NineStar’s existing funds and from revenue generated through DVD sales of the programs, Spencer said.

Dave Hill, former editor of the Daily Reporter, is hosting a 30-minute program called “NineStar Newsroom,” which premieres at 1 p.m. Saturday. He said he hopes to provide a fresh take on community issues in a program that’s thought-provoking and entertaining.

“There’s nobody telling community stories in long-form video, so this gives us a chance to explore a different way of telling stories,” he said.

The first episode will document the toll the emerald ash borer has taken on community parks, Hill said. The second will take viewers through the new cancer center at Hancock Regional Hospital and will examine what it means for the community, he said.

Hill hopes the show attracts a wide range of community members.

“Ultimately, our goal is to appeal to a broad audience, anybody from grownups to kids who are interested in what’s going on in the community,” Hill said.

NineStar also is covering high school sports with its programming and is taping a community football game each Friday, which will air on Saturdays. In all, five cameramen and two sideline reporters will be involved in the production, Spencer said.

Tonight, producers will film the football game between Greenfield-Central and Mt. Vernon High School.

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Daniel Morgan is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (317) 477-3228 or