Gators Connect with Community Through ‘Public Affairs, Public Access’
Television Show Providing Civic Engagement Opportunities for UHD
By Mike Emery
It’s Thursday night … a busy evening for Houston Media Source, the city’s public access television station. Pasadena City Council candidates file into the station’s lobby awaiting the opportunity to discuss their platforms on the League of Women Voters’ (LWV) “Public Affairs, Public Access” show.
Hosting the show and interviewing candidates is Dr. Gene Preuss, University of Houston-Downtown assistant professor of history. His co-hosts include another member of the UHD community, student Archie Gayle.
Along with Graci Garces, assistant director of Community Initiatives at BakerRipley, the hosts listen to each candidate and pose questions about their goals for the City of Pasadena; engaging young voters and other subjects.
For the past few months, Preuss and other members of the UHD community have produced this monthly broadcast that spotlight issues affecting Greater Houston. Topics have included education, voting, International Women’s day, women’s health, domestic violence, veterans issues, and conversations with candidates seeking to represent District 145 in the Texas House of Representatives. Guests have included a who’s who of Houston-area advocates, scholars and activists.
UHD’s involvement in the program was made possible through Preuss’ relationship with the LWV. After appearing on the show several times as a guest, he was asked to take over as producer, booking guests and selecting topics. He assumed this role four months ago and regularly invites members of the UHD community to participate as guests, co-hosts and co-producers.
Among those who have appeared on the show have been Dr. David Branham, professor of political science; Richard Selvera, director of Veterans Services; alumna Magge Nuñez; Dr. Alex Bielakowski, assistant professor of history; Dr. Heather Goltz, associate professor of social work; and Dr. Mari Nicholson-Preuss, director of the UHD Honors Program.
“The League of Women Voters does great things in our community and has showcased many important topics with this show,” Preuss said. “I thought it would be a great vehicle for our faculty, staff and students to further connect with our community and to provide helpful information to the public.”
In addition to addressing topics and issues relevant to Houstonians, “Public Affairs, Public Access” is opening students’ eyes to new platforms for community engagement and provides many learning opportunities.
“I had never interviewed anyone on live television before,” Gayle said. “That was a learning moment for me, but it went well. I enjoy writing and journalism, but the experience of co-hosting this program has me considering broadcasting as a possible career option. It’s really just a great experience to participate in this community-focused initiative and learn new things.”
The next edition of “Public Affairs, Public Access” is slated for 6:30 pm Aug. 1. Houston Media Source can be viewed on Uverse 99, Comcast Ch. 17 or via livestream at www.hmstv.org. Past editions of the “Public Affairs, Public Access” can be viewed on Houston Media Source’s YouTube channel.
“It’s a great show for our community, and it’s providing excellent experience for our students,” Preuss said. “I look forward to continued participation from the UHD Community and delivering more shows that promote civic engagement.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.
As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz. Annually, UHD educates more than 14,000 students; boasts over 50,000 alumni and offers 44 bachelor’s and eight master’s degree programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College). In 2018, UHD grew its First Time in College student population by 11 percent and transfer students by 14 percent.
UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston. It also is ranked among 15 U.S. universities with lowest net price to students (according to the U.S. Department of Education). The University is noted nationally as both a Hispanic-Serving Institution and a Minority-Serving Institution. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.