Series Feature: Wayback Playback

April 08, 2020

Watch the first episode of Wayback Playback on YouTube

Portland Cable Access, Portland Community Media and now Open Signal has served the Portland community for nearly forty years since its inception in 1981. Wayback Playback is a series that showcases the various programming and events that have aired on our public access channels over the years.

Each two-hour episode centers on a theme whereby programs of similar subject matter are grouped together in a fun and entertaining way. Some examples of the nearly 70 episodes so far tackle subjects such as Portland activism, puppets, houselessness, love, skating, cooking, hip hop, sports, religion, science, belly-dancing and many more.

Wayback Playback is presented in two versions: There is the primetime Wayback Playback, and there is Wayback Playback After Dark, which focuses on more of the artistic, variety, occasionally adult-themed and eclectic programming that public access had to offer over the years. They are both fun windows into Portland’s past and a look at how our community has changed over time while still maintaining that same wonderful weird Portland we know and love.

Wayback Playback began as a digital archiving project in 2017 meant to preserve all the existing analog media that remained within our facility before those formats succumb to the deterioration of time. These include formats such as ¾ inch U-matic tapes, D-9 half-inch, DVCAM, MiniDV, VHS, S-VHS, Hi8, Betacam and basically anything else we can get our hands on.

If it has ever aired on our channels, we want to preserve it! To date, we have digitized and documented over 3,000 videos from our history, but that is only a tiny fraction of what has aired on our channels.

Wayback Playback itself was created in 2019 as a showcase to rebroadcast some of these wonderful programs we have stashed away, and it continues with new programs each week highlighting public access’s history on our Independent Television Network channel (ITN2) and Pulse of Portland channel (POP).

The project has also been successful in attracting former producers who have brought back their old series for rebroadcast. It is always amazing to see just how ahead of the time public access has been, as well as its ability to tap into the cultural zeitgeist of the Pacific Northwest.

If anyone reading this has, or knows someone that has, old public access programs that you wish to preserve, please bring them in! We will happily digitize it to our archive and give you a copy. Please do so before the tapes completely rot away, or the machines that play them breakdown for the last time.

And if you have any old programming you would like to rebroadcast on our channels, we would love to do so. Just email us at playback [at] opensignalpdx.org if you have any questions. We’ve also been able to reunite archived programs with their original creators that were thought to be lost to time.

So, if you want to awash yourself in the soothing nostalgia of Portland Cable Access or just have some fun watching classic public access programming, check out Wayback Playback every week at 7pm Thursdays on Independent Television Network 2 (Channel 23) and Wayback Playback After Dark at 11pm Fridays on ITN2 (Channel 23) and 10pm Saturdays on Pulse of Portland (Channel 29). Experience the magic and community that is public access television.

David Koesters Distribution & Media Services dkoesters [at] opensignalpdx.org (503) 288-1515 x321

I provide technical assistance to producers, monitor and schedule the Open Signal channels, and ensure your shows air properly.

Ask for me when you need help uploading a show, have questions in the studio or about the equipment, or anything regarding distribution or media services. If I don't know the answer, I will do my best to connect you with someone that does.

My background includes broadcasting, the military and law. I also make cartoons; animation is my outlet and refuge.

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