Bloomfield public access TV station recognized as state leader, wins awards

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Bloomfield NJ TV, aka WBMA-TV, has been recognized by the JAG Awards for its exceptional broadcasting work during the past year. The JAG Awards are annual awards, facilitated by the Jersey Access Group, that honor excellence in local and regional public education and government cablecast programming. 

“Bloomfield TV is a critical resource for members of our community and I am thrilled to see them recognized for their outstanding work,” Mayor Michael Venezia said. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they have assisted us in getting information out to residents and helping us to keep everyone informed. I look forward to seeing this station continue to be at the forefront of local government programming.” 

WBMA-TV, located on the second floor of the Bloomfield Civic Center at 84 Broad St., is the township’s municipal access television station. The station is dedicated to meeting the community’s interests in the arts, education, community events, local government and informational programming. Found on Comcast’s channel 35 and Verizon FiOS channel 30, the station regularly broadcasts municipal and school board meetings and offers a bulletin board with Bloomfield information.

WBMA-TV Executive Director Bob Duthaler, who is also Jersey Access Group president; Bloomfield IT Director Jean-Guy Lauture; and their operations have become a model for sharing and providing information to Bloomfield residents, according to a press release from the township. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to make changes to provide broadcasting and emergency information to the public. The TV station along with the IT Department stepped up to the plate and implemented a state-of-the-art system that is now being looked at as a model for future broadcasting for local stations and municipalities. 

“When I heard about the nomination my first thought was, ‘wow they have done it again!’ Navigating through the COVID-19 crisis and the unique challenges we face, Bob and his WBMA-TV team are instrumental in providing us with informative and instructional programming to help keep us safe,” said Karen Lore, director of Health and Human Services in Bloomfield. “I am thrilled that they have received (these awards) acknowledging all of their hard work and commitment excellence. I am extremely grateful to the township and the station for providing us with this treasured resource.” 

The Bloomfield IT Department and WBMA-TV found creative ways to broadcast live from multiple locations and across multiple platforms, including being able to broadcast hybrid remote and in-person meetings and broadcasting live press conferences from Gov. Phil Murphy on a daily basis.

Not only did WBMA-TV meet the needs of the municipality and community during a pandemic, they also continued to provide award-winning local coverage and broadcasting. WBMA-TV won Awards of Excellence for its stories “Community Development: Pulaski Park Inclusive Playground” and “Public Meeting: Bloomfield Township Council Reorganization Meeting January 2020”; Awards of Distinction for its stories “Ceremonies and Parades: Fiesta Latina Day 2020” and “PSAs/Series: Bloomfield Board of Education COVID-19 Updates”; and an Award of Recognition for its story “Instructional Videos: Bloomfield Township Back to Work Video – COVID Safety.”

“We can not thank Bloomfield TV enough for helping us get the word out during a very crucial time for the Bloomfield schools community,” Bloomfield Assistant Superintendent Joseph Fleres said. “Their staff were always there when we needed them and not only were we able to get the word out there, but we were able to get it out in a concise, professional and timely manner. The videos provided the community with comfort, information and at times great hope.” 

“WBMA-TV has been instrumental in assisting our department in promoting the various programs and events we administer throughout the year,” said Michael L. Sceurman, 

director of Bloomfield Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs. “Bob Duthaler and his crew are great to work with and always go above and beyond for our community. Their professionalism and expertise are evident in the finished product.”