For nearly 20 years, channel 972, Riderwood's in-house cable station, has been an invaluable resource for residents, providing information on all aspects of daily life at the Erickson Senior Living community in Silver Spring, Md. Known as Riderwood TV, the station supports resident-driven programming with the help of more than 20 dedicated resident volunteers and three full-time staff members.
"Riderwood TV is more than just information," says Christopher Taydus, manager of Riderwood TV. “We are also an outlet for creativity, as we showcase the wealth of talent and experience of our community members. Our residents are involved in all stages of program creation, from conception to production.”
At the heart of Riderwood TV’s program lineup is the live morning news show, Riderwood in Focus. The show is produced Monday through Friday and airs multiple times each day and on weekends. The program features a variety of guests, including Riderwood staff members, local and regional politicians, experts in the fields of safety and education, health and fitness professionals, media representatives, and residents with unique talents or stories they wish to share with the community.
Wide range of programming
Riderwood in Focus is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the station’s programming.
“The sky’s the limit,” says Taydus. “We cover everything and anything having to do with daily life at Riderwood. We film and air live events, lecture series, campus performances, recreations of favorite game shows, and even a trivia show.”
In addition to airing live, most Riderwood TV original programming can be seen on-demand on Vimeo at RiderwoodTV.com.
To ensure that Riderwood TV meets the needs of the whole community, a second station, channel 974, airs daily exercise classes—including stretching and yoga, chair Pilates, and silver sneakers—and all of Riderwood’s on-site religious services.
“As a team, we get out into the community and capture the wonderful events and activities happening every day,” says Taydus.
Taydus joined Riderwood TV as manager five years ago, following nine years at the television studio at Oak Crest, an Erickson Senior Living community in Parkville, Md.
“I love my job because I am able to take part in all the different aspects of television production,” he says. “When I finished college, I thought the position would provide me with the flexibility to figure out which side of the field I enjoyed most. Instead, I fell in love with our residents. This is such a unique job and it’s the best. My favorite part is teaching our volunteers new skills, whether it’s how to conduct an on-camera interview or how to operate a camera.”
And it’s the unwavering dedication of Taydus’ team of volunteers, who provide numerous hours of service, to meet the needs of the station’s 3,000-plus daily viewers. These volunteers coordinate audiovisual requests, support lighting and sound needs, operate cameras, and serve as hosts and guest speakers.
“Our volunteers are the heart and soul of programming,” says Taydus. “Almost no one arrives with any experience in television technology, yet everyone is eager to learn something new and help our station run in a variety of ways.”
Community member Shirley Dearfield had never worked at a television studio before walking through the doors of the Riderwood television station in 2009.
“I was the newly elected chair of the Resident Advisory Council (RAC), and in that role, I appeared on the station to inform residents of what was going on with the RAC. From there, I was asked if I would be interested in serving as a television host. I jumped right in.”
Thirteen years later, Shirley is glad she did.
“I enjoy working at the station very much,” she says. “For something I had no experience in, I am very comfortable now. I currently host a number of programs, including a monthly interview with Executive Director Gary Hibbs and interviews with Riderwood’s new hires. I’ve met so many wonderful, interesting people in my role as a host.”
Community member Levern Allen also hosts a variety of Riderwood TV programming. “I’ve been hosting since 2004 and I enjoy it very much,” she says. “Sometimes I interview residents and sometimes I interview people outside of Riderwood. I once had the pleasure of interviewing Burg Turner who, as a youth, worked for and learned from W.E.B. Du Bois.”
In addition to television programming, Taydus serves as editor-in-chief for The Riderwood Reporter newspaper, a collaborative publication between residents and staff.
“Not long after arriving at Riderwood, I recognized the beneficial partnership between the two vehicles of communication,” he says. “We now work hand-in-hand to provide and support information for our residents. Often, a story leads to a program, or vice versa.”
The residents who volunteer their time to support these communication efforts say their time is well spent.
“Riderwood has so much talent and experience, and as a host, I love to share it,” says Levern. “I have lived here for 18 years and have seldom refused to share my gifts.”
“It is just such a pleasure spending time in the studio,” says Shirley. “We tease each other and make each other laugh. I even refer to the staff members as my grandchildren. We are that close.”
To learn more about the engaging, vibrant lifestyle at Riderwood, request a brochure or a visit now!