Texas' First Independent Online TV Channel
by Rick Hoar
April 29, 2011

A few weeks of unusual scheduling have given me the opportunity to reflect on our little webcasting project here at The Lone Star. What you may have come to know as a quirky collection of Internet video shows, actually has a lot going on behind the scenes and some big plans for the future. So, I thought I'd hammer out a blog update to clarify the vision for our regular viewers and for any curious visitors that might drop by.

Today, we're developing to be a vetted broadcast platform in the New Media of tomorrow. While it's hard to say exactly how people will consume electronic information and entertainment in the years to come, it is clear that our conventional television networks and newspapers are quickly losing their relevance at the same time the economic sustainability of the conventional media are in decline.

What's needed now are serious endeavors into the potentials that new technology and global interconnectivity already afford us, and a meaningful establishment of new institutions for the future. The Lone Star will seek to define those institutions while we simultaneously define our own role as a network in the 21st Century.

There is already a great variety of independent content being distributed across the Internet. From simple home weblogs to collaborative research projects; garage podcasts to online corporate communications, the web offers an astounding collection of media with varying levels of craftsmanship. The beauty of this democratization is that *what* one has to say can now be propagated despite *how* one is able to say it. Niche content can find traction in global markets that were once too disparate to merit specific resources.

In addition to enjoying this newfound freedom to create programming for our particular corner of the 'Net, The Lone Star also seeks to aggregate producers and organizations that serve like-minded communities, here in Texas and around the world. We ultimately see this project as a way to bring people together, and the organic growth of an associated producer/consumer ecosystem as an inevitable by-product of the social media platform.

Where a conventional TV channel offers only passive, scheduled programming, we can produce interactive content that viewers can actually participate in during its recording. In web chat, people can talk to our show hosts or just discuss what's being said to each other. So, if life gets in the way of TV-watching, the on-demand nature of the podcasts we produce will make catching up easy, and the community experience therefore that much more durable.

The next major functionality upgrade at the network will be to incorporate an automated playback server that will effectively keep us "LIVE" 24-hours a day. With a schedule of recorded or simulcast content always on-the-air, the shared experience will always be available to our viewers, whether or not a podcast production is in progress. The constant stream will also allow us to simply break-in to cover developing events and situations.

While this devotion to a seemingly conventional format may seem antiquated by today's standards, I feel that there will be an increasing need for "happening" media as more and more of our content becomes downloadable. Our charter is to progress with careful regard for tradition, and real-time programming may very well have been one of the valid benefits of yesterday's TV.

Of course, we'll still support and encourage on-demand distribution to individual viewers on their own schedules, but our on-air product will act like a digital rally point for the people we serve, much the way broadcast radio has survived the .mp3 revolution of the music industry.

So, while The Lone Star's expansion may not seem explosive by any means, we do hope to increase our reach sustainably in the years to come. Over time, we'll hopefully build not only a great outlet for tomorrow's broadcast professionals, but a community of individuals who will enjoy a new standard for responsible collaboration. The future is yours for the taking, and the revolution will be digitized!