Andre Cormier is the new executive director of Mt. Blue Community Access TV. He is seen adjusting one of the cameras used in the studio located on the ground floor of Roberts Learning Center in Farmington. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

FARMINGTON — Until now, there has been only one executive director at Mt. Blue Community Access TV since its inception almost 21 years ago.

Last week Andre Cormier became executive director after JP Fortier left to take a position with Bee Line Cable. Cormier did freelance work for the station prior to becoming its production manager in 2020.

Cormier, who lives in West Farmington, graduated from the New England School of Communications (NESCOM) in 2002. He has worked for WABI Channel 5 in Bangor, WGME Channel 13 in Portland, for the Mid Atlantic Sports Network in Baltimore, Maryland, and ESPN. He currently is the director of broadcast operations for the Maine Celtics, formerly the Red Claws.

“I moved here, turned on the television and asked myself ‘What was going on over there?'” Cormier said. “I popped in for a meeting, had a conversation with JP (Fortier) about maybe having some freelance opportunities. I worked doing live sports for the station a few years.”

Cormier’s family moved to Canaan from New Bedford, Massachusetts, when he was two and a half years old. He lived there for 30 years before moving to this area. His family includes a 14 year old stepson along with almost four-year-old and almost 10-month-old daughters.

“It’s been nice to discover the community and have all these opportunities along the way,” he said. “I was thinking back, I actually started in video production in high school. I thought I would be a business major, missed the day a representative from NESCOM came. A pamphlet from NESCOM got left in the classroom, that’s how I ended up finding that school, finding my way into video production.”

Advertisement

It’s important to acknowledge that JP was the station’s only executive director for 20 years, starting in a half time position, Cormier said.

“I’m trying to build on the successes and progress he made and created along the way,” Cormier noted. “One of my big goals is to expand our ability to get out and cover local community events. It’s still a struggle in terms of funding.”

MBTV live streamed an ArtsFarmington youth concert at the Meetinghouse Park Gazebo this week. It is collaborating with Washburn Norlands Living History Center to launch a Lillian Nordica concert.

“A lot of non-profits may not have big budgets, we don’t either,” Cormier said. “I’ve said to people, ‘If you don’t have gum for everybody, you don’t give gum out.’ Well, we have some gum. I don’t want to get into a position where we don’t cover some things because we can’t cover everything.”

There are a lot of natural partnerships, collaborations that have been mutually beneficial, he said.

“Every organization in town has something unique they offer,” Cormier said. “The station is a rare thing, a gem to have in the community.”

Advertisement

Another goal is to continue expanding the opportunities for people to engage with the station, he said.

Currently selectboard meetings from Farmington, Jay and Wilton plus county commissioners meetings are live streamed. Other live local programming includes high school sporting events, Talkin’ Maine, Telling Tales, and community events such as the Chester Greenwood and 4th of July parades.

“The pandemic didn’t really make it easy for anyone to get out and do much, but part of community access’ mission is for people to have access to training, be able to volunteer and gain some video production skills,” Cormier said. “That’s another initiative we’re looking to take on and through that hopefully allowing us to cover more community events if there’s more volunteering.

“Our other big initiative is creating more content so that the station has more unique, locally produced projects that highlight what’s great about this community,” he continued. “There’s a lot of talented people and there’s a lot of things in the community that people don’t know about even after living here for a long time. We’re trying to give a voice to those things and also celebrate things traditionally celebrated.”

MBTV has two other paid staff members. Victor Cormier — there’s a relationship far down the tree — is the assistant to the director and Tom Martin who worked eight years as a freelancer before being brought on board this year, Andre Cormier said. Abbie Cramer volunteers for the station doing the Jay board meetings and sporting events, he noted.

A board of directors has oversight of the station. Board President is Stan Wheeler. Other members are Kymberli Bryant, Jeshua Souci, Morgan Spencer, and Bobbie Wheeler.

Advertisement

“They’ve been a good partner in terms of allowing the station to have its own functionality for the most part on a day to day basis,” Cormier said. “They give that sort of space to make decisions and operate, to be there for support and oversight, make sure the station’s meeting its goals and staying viable.”

“JP was the face of MBTV,” Wheeler said recently noting he’s been on the board a lot of years. “Wherever I go people know, recognize him. He’s seen us through a whole lot of growth, changes in technology.”

In response to the pandemic, MBTV expanded its live streaming, Wheeler noted. It required new equipment, new ways of thinking about what the station does, he added.

“We have expanded our understanding and what it means to be MBTV,” Wheeler said. “We no longer just focus on the channel. Media services, video services are provided. Community access television is still the heart and blood of what we do.”

Fortier did not wish to be interviewed.

“We wish him the best in his new career,” Wheeler said. “Andre can move us forward.”

Advertisement

Cormier is appreciative of the station’s supporting members which locally include University Maine Farmington, United Way of the Tri-Valley Area and Farmington Rotary. He is building relationships with UMF’s creative writing program and Foster Career and Technology Education Center programs.

“It’s the community’s station,” Cormier said. “You’re going to see more of us out in the community. Come say hi. If you have ideas, reach out to us. We can’t do everything, may figure out a way. If we can’t produce it, we can connect people with resources so maybe they can.”

There are opportunities for young people to get involved and perhaps discover they have a passion for video production, Cormier said.

“I’m just really grateful for the opportunities I’ve had,” he said. “Those JP (Fortier) and the station provided me, the support from my family.”

MBTV is located on the ground floor of Roberts Learning Center, 270 Main Street, Farmington.

Cormier may be contacted by calling 207-778-8146 or emailing [email protected]

Comments are not available on this story.