If you’re a high school sports fan, you’re going to love what Jeff Platz has in mind.
He’s the new manager at Amherst City Cable, which runs channels 12 and 95 on Time Warner Cable, showcasing local government, sports, and original programming.
“Right now I’m kind of a one-man band,” Platz said. “But I love being challenged.”
The 49-year-old Amherst resident’s interest in the job was sparked this fall by a story in the News-Times about former director Greg Haney’s departure. Platz was hired at the tail end of October and with the start of the new year is resolving to make big changes.
At the top of his priority list is coverage of Comets sports.
Already, boys basketball games have gone from a single-camera affair to being shot by two TV cameras. Platz said by the end of the month he wants a full three-camera crew and is also working to give viewers instant replays.
Next, he wants to experiment with broadcasting wrestling matches, the Comet Relays, and Amherst baseball.
That kind of coverage is nothing new for Platz.
He’s been in the business since 1986, when he launched a nine-year career with the Cleveland Browns as a video coach. Starting as an intern, by 1992 he was working full-time under then-head coach Bill Belichick.
Longtime Browns announcer Casey Coleman encouraged him to take a job with WJW Fox 8. Platz has since worked for WOIO Channel 19 and returned to Fox, producing coverage of the Columbus Crew and pre- and post-game shows for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Today he is producer of the high school football game of the week on SportsTime Ohio and has been tasked with growing coverage of high school sports in general.
His work has earned nine Emmy Awards for shooting, producing, and editing as well as an Associated Press award.
While athletics are a passion — Platz is also an Amherst football assistant coach — he has other goals in mind for the Amherst TV station.
The first is updating old technology, and Platz is reaching out to Time Warner about breathing new life into old infrastructure.
“What we’re using to transmit out of there, for lack of a better term, is archaic. We need to change the signal,” he said.
The second is fostering a return to quality local programming created and hosted by familiar Amherst faces, especially with the community talk show format.
“I’ve gone back into the archives and there were some older shows that are gone. I don’t know what happened or why they left, but they were great,” he said.
To that end, he’s hunting would-be show-makers with fresh ideas, saying the cable station is a platform for residents to be heard, for health experts to talk about breast cancer awareness and other pressing issues, and for local merchants.
If you have a show idea, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
With help, Platz said he can rebuild television stations that many Amherst viewers have forgotten and others never had a chance to discover.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Jeff Platz zips back and forth in his chair, adjusting sliders for volume control during a Comets boys varsity basketball game against the Avon Eagles.