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Saint Paul Neighborhood Network

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Saint Paul Neighborhood Network
TypeCommunity Media
AvailabilityCable subscribers living in Saint Paul, Minnesota
Slogan"Building Community Through Television"
Launch date
Official website

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Saint Paul Neighborhood Network, or SPNN is a non-profit community media center and cable television station in downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota. Cable-casting on five channels, it reaches more than 52,000 cable households. SPNN maintains an official Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/myspnn.


SPNN was created in 1984 under the name "Cable Access St. Paul" when the city set up its first cable television franchise. In 1995, the station changed its name to "Saint Paul Neighborhood Network." SPNN's channel numbers were changed during St. Paul's switch to digital cable in 2003, and it currently operates non-commercial channels 14, 15, 16, 19 and 20 on the Saint Paul cable system.


SPNN also has credit for producing and broadcasting programs that moved up the ladder to TPT (KTCA), the Twin Cities non-profit broadcast television organization and its affiliated network, PBS. These shows include Mental Engineering, aired on PBS, and Kev Koom Siab, aired on TPT. Currently, several programs on TPT's Minnesota Channel are produced at SPNN.


SPNN, as with most Public-access television cable TV stations, offers the use of its equipment and programs to anyone who wishes to create media. By joining SPNN, members can sign up for instructional classes on studio or field production techniques and practices, become certified to use equipment and check out the equipment through its Access Department. Members can also take advantage of three, Mac-based editing suites, including Adobe After Effects, Final Cut Pro and Adobe Photoshop. Members' finished programs air on one of several Public-access television channels.

We have 11 digital cameras, 3 edit rooms, one studio, several light kits and miscellaneous audio gear available to create a program. Once member media has been created using SPNN facilities, members must share their program on one of SPNN's channels.


In 2007, SPNN's Access Department activated a YouTube account, uploading many of the tutorials offered as classes for viewers to watch at their convenience. Their YouTube channel also includes lessons on white balancing, using the studio's audio mixer, and operating the studio's light meter, all from SPNN's producers. In 2008, SPNN began uploading their in-house series, All Things Access. All Things Access continues the video tutorials while profiling SPNN's members and other non-profit groups operating in the Twin Cities. According to its description, SPNN's YouTube channel focuses on Public-access television and community television.

Community Productions[edit]

File:Mike SPNN redo.jpg
An SPNN volunteer operates the DPS replay deck from inside the SPNN production truck.

In addition to its public Public-access television network, SPNN facilitates a Community Productions Department that airs programming 16 hours a day. The downtown facility has a large production studio that features four cameras, a switcher, an audio board, two DV CAM decks, two super VHS decks, two mini DV decks, 7 monitors (one for each camera plus a CG, Preview, and Program monitor), a Waveform and Vectorscope monitor for white balance and a graphics console computer capable of accessing the Internet.

Production Services[edit]

File:Bob Noel.JPG
SPNN crew setting up cameras for the Rondo Days Drill Team Competition.

Both SPNN staff and SPNN members have access to the production truck is made of two parts, a storage compartment and a "control room." The storage compartment holds 4 cameras and a tripod for each, sandbags, camera cables, headphones for the camera operators, wheel bases to mobilize the cameras, viewfinder case, and mats to assist in holding the camera cables in place. The control room contains a switcher that can take a total of 12 camera outputs, two DV CAM decks, a DPS replay deck, a DVD deck, an audio board, a Waveform and Vectorscope monitor for white balancing, 7 monitors for the director (4 cameras plus a CG, Program and VTR monitor), and a graphics console computer.

SPNN Youth[edit]

SPNN Youth Programs provides Saint Paul youth with the opportunity to create community media with a lasting impact. Through fun and engaging programs, youth develop skills in media production, critical thinking, and community awareness. It is a place for exploration and diverse voices, for artistic vision and award-winning quality. As an alternative to mainstream media, SPNN Youth works to increase youth media visibility on SPNN channels and on the web. SPNN Youth believes in the power of youth media to stimulate dialogue and create social change. Youth are active members of SPNN Youth Programs as participants, mentors, and leaders, and work with staff to create youth-driven programs. SPNN Youth welcomes and strive to be accessible to youth most affected by the digital divide including: low income youth, youth of color, new immigrant youth, differently abled youth, GLBTQI youth, and youth from other marginalized communities.

SPNN's Youth education programs give adolescents and teenagers the opportunity to produce their own television show, Set It Up, which is taped at the SPNN studio and aired on its youth education channel. The Youth Department offers access to MacBook laptops, SD and HD prosumer camcorders, non-linear editing systems iMovie and Final Cut Express, as well as to the studio equipment itself. Those who are members of the Youth Department can also intern at SPNN, where they can take instructional courses offered by the Access Department free of charge and/or volunteer on Community Production cablecasts.

Community Technology Empowerment Project[edit]

In 2004, SPNN became a lead agency in the Community Technology Empowerment Project [CTEP], an AmeriCorps program that builds capacity of Community Technology Centers in Minneapolis-St. Paul and promotes digital literacy. The program places 25 AmeriCorps members at local technology centers, such as libraries, non-profits and schools. Through 2008, CTEP has provided over 170,000 hours of volunteer support to these community services.


External links[edit]

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