For Tom Hanson and Palm Coast’s TV199, annual awards are the norm, not the exception: Last year Hanson, who heads the city’s video production department, and Jason Giraulo, who handles digital communications, landed three Communicator Awards through the International Academy of Visual Arts, which honors creative excellence for communications professionals. In 2011, TV199 got two Communicator Awards and one Telly Award. And this year, it landed one more, for its production of the video on the December 2013 tornado that tore through the city, an event the city has been calling the “Starlight Tornado,” because it interrupted the annual Starlight Christmas parade.
The city got a second Communicator Award this year for the redesign of its website. The new site was developed in-house by Applications Analyst Doug Akins of the City’s Information Technology Department, with input from the Palm Coast Branding Team, which is made up of employees from several departments. Both awards were given at the Silver Communicator level, and bring to eight the total number of Communicator Awards the city has received.
The City’s website was redesigned in summer 2013 to be mobile-friendly, with cutting-edge responsive design and a look that showcases the City’s coastal location, active lifestyle and commitment to environmental sustainability and a high quality of life. The redesign devoted the homepage layout to showcasing Palm Coast’s best. The functional aspects of the site were also reorganized to make it easier for residents and visitors to find the information they need about Palm Coast’s services and departments.
The Starlight Tornado video’s scripting, storyboarding, filming and editing was entirely the work of Hanson and Giraulo. The TV199 team is part of Palm Coast’s Communications and Marketing Division, which has a $350,000 budget and counts three full-timers and a part-timer.
Narrated by Mayor Jon Netts, the video tells the story of the tornado and the community’s response and recovery. The tornado hit three neighborhoods in Palm Coast on the night of Dec. 14, minutes after the annual holiday parade was canceled mid-parade. Some 240 homes were damaged. The video uses audio from 911 calls, along with footage of the destruction and interviews shot in the aftermath. The Starlight Tornado video was recognized in the Communicator Awards competition’s Government Relations category.
The video can be viewed below.
“The City strives to reach citizens through a variety of communications methods, and we are especially proud of our website and the many excellent videos we produce each year,” said Cindi Lane, manager of the communications and marketing department. “The Starlight Tornado was unwelcome, but it gave us the opportunity to demonstrate how well we can pull together as a community to respond quickly and efficiently, to keep residents safe and to help people recover from natural disasters. The resulting video is a powerful illustration of our resiliency and our community’s commitment to doing all it can to help residents through emergencies.”
Palm Coast’s Municipal Access television station 199 was launched on January 2, 2007 and by December 2011 had already aired 1,000 programs. Hanson said that he is proud of the distinctive and specialized programs the station has offered throughout the years. “The stuff we produce in house cannot be found anywhere else,” he said in an interview two years ago.
Hanson said he thinks the future of government TV is bright, with the internet and new technology laying an ever increasing role in the mix. By mediums working together, all the technological wizardry out there could actually march collectively into the future and improve television all at the same time, he said. ”We have to embrace change and keep on moving. The entire chain of experiences will only strengthen us. We don’t know what it may change into but it’s shared driving going forward.”
Hanson moved his family from Ferndale, Michigan to Palm Coast in 2007 after he was offered to launch TV199. At the time Hanson was working as a recognized producer/director for cable TV in Michigan. “I had won the national excellence of program awards and went to an awards ceremony in Orlando where I ran into the right people,” he said. “We were excited to move to Florida.”
When the 199’s overseer arrived to Palm Coast early 2007 his task was to start a TV station. “All I had in the beginning was my laptop but I had to make it work,” he said. “I slowly build the program on the confidence of the products and I tried my best to be a good steward of the tax dollars and make equipment last as long as we can.”
Hanson got the TV station off the ground solo but within a few months a video production specialist was hired as the demand for programming increased. Giraulo is a graduate of Flagler College and Flagler Palm Coast High School.
Videos produced by Palm Coast’s TV199 can be viewed on the city’s YouTube channel here at and on the channel’s Video on Demand Service available via the city channel website. For more information, please contact Hanson at 386/986-2485 or email him.