Central New Jersey Network to be Headquartered in Montgomery Township, Opens June 22
By Melissa Drift | Posted June 8, 2023
Princeton Community Television has relaunched as Central New Jersey Network (CNJN) in a bid to expand its focus beyond TV, and also beyond Princeton to the wider central New Jersey area. The network recently announced it will be headquartered in Montgomery Township with a satellite office in Trenton.
The Montgomery News Publisher Norman Silverstein is also the vice-chairman of CNJN. He says the nonprofit network, which was started as a public-access TV station in Princeton in 1997, now will produce live streaming of local news, locally produced documentaries, and entertainment programming. CNJN will act as a community center for citizens to produce and broadcast their own shows, films, videos, commercials, and more. They also will provide camera equipment, TV studios, and training.
"Community members can now create their own television program," Silverstein says. "The voiceless will have their voices heard, and the dreamers can share their vision."
CNJN will host an information session for those interested in getting involved or just learning about CNJN. The session will be held in its new headquarters at 23 Orchard Road in Skillman on June 22 from 6 pm to 8 pm. Members of the public are invited to simply drop by the studio and check it out.
CNJN Board Members— Standing from left: Norman Silverstein of Montgomery Township, Ed Zimmerman of Rocky Hill, Tony Jackson, Gabi Johnson, Jim Monteforte, Deborah Frazier, Jim Parker, Tom McManimon, Erik Kent of Belle Mead, and Kamal Bathla. Kneeling from left: Mark Sterling of Montgomery Township and Devin Moran. Not pictured: Peter Crowley, Bryan Evans, and Anthony Carabelli, Jr. Photo taken by George McCollough, CNJN executive director.
The CNJN management is composed of local business leaders from Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset counties, reaching across various municipalities. With local programming as its bedrock, CNJN is one of the largest public producers of original content in New Jersey, delivering programs featuring local business, education, nonprofit, and legislative leaders delivering perspectives on important, timely topics while answering viewers questions.
A major component of CNJN is to act as a forum for citizens to produce and broadcast their own shows, films, videos, commercials and more, providing camera equipment, TV studios, and training. CNJN's Skillman studio on Orchard Road is located across the street from the Montgomery Township Municipal Building. It is also just down the road from The Montgomery News office. CNJN recently opened a station in downtown Trenton.
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CNJN moved into the former Johnson & Johnson building at 23 Orchard Road in Skillman in May. Its new Trenton studio opened May 17 on the second floor of 1 West State Street, where they recently hosted a grand opening. For now, CNJN is using the Trenton facility to shoot programming, but they hope to also run classes there in the future, as well. The Trenton space was generously donated by a board member who owns the building. CNJN has no affiliation with the former NJN, (now known as NJ PBS,) or the Public Broadcasting Service.
There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Skillman studio soon.
The sign at 23 Orchard Road, home of the new Central New Jersey Network headquarters, is visible from Route 206 in Skillman.
The Central New Jersey Network studio is located on the first floor.
Once funded by Princeton tax payers, CNJN is now a fully independent station. It is a non-profit, supported fully by donations, grants, and sponsorships. In the near future, CNJN will offer monthly memberships and classes .
The bright, spacious new Montgomery Township location features a television broadcast studio where interview style shows can be filmed, a new podcasting studio, a large chroma key wall, and editing facilities. A variety of classes for adults and teenagers will be offered. Topics will range from starting your own podcast to beginning field camera, learning studio production, and editing. They hope to add an acting class to the lineup at some point. Participants in these classes will be charged a minimal enrollment fee, to cover the cost of the program.
CNJN is run by Executive Director George McCollough of Griggstown, along with Business Director Mark Sterling of Montgomery, and Technical Director Devin Moran, who are the only paid staff members. All others who work for the station are unpaid volunteers, including their 12-member board of directors, comprised of local business leaders.
CNJN staff from left: Technical Director Devin Moran, Executive Director George McCollough, and Business Director Mark Sterling.
McCollough, who refers to himself as a "media activist," has been with the station since 2005. He is passionate about CNJN's mission to provide access for people who normally would not get the opportunity to produce TV content and have a voice in the community.
Before coming to Princeton Community Television/CNJN, McCollough ran the public access station at Drexel University for many years. There, he was well known for the popular documentary, Prison Dialogues, which he produced along with inmates at the former Greatorford Correctional Center in Pennsylvania. The hour-long program featured interviews with inmates about why they ended up where they did and was meant to serve as a teaching tool for at risk youth.
>> A still from Prison Dialogues.
"Trying to get the public who couldn't get on TV or anything like that, to be able to provide them with an opportunity is what I like about doing this kind of work," McCollough said.
Programming on CNJN includes new talk shows and a lineup including: The Gab; R & B Bistro; Open Source; The Geeta Chopra; Cafe Improv; Empathy in Action; New Beginnings; Positive Energy; I Am Not Cancer; Storyline; Back Story; Profonde TV; Clear Speak; The Tom & Doug Show; Eric Mintel Investigations; and Real Talk on Racism. There is also a program on wealth management and one on local, national, and international news.
A new show called the "Quantum Healer" will cover alternative medicine and healing practices. The first show features a wellness business in Hillsborough, the only business on the East Coast to have something called an harmonic egg.
"You sit in the egg and they put on music and you're in there for an hour and you're supposed to manifest thoughts and stuff like that. It's real interesting," McCollough explained.
Though CNJN is not allowed to run traditional advertisements—because they are a non-profit organization—the station does offer promotional opportunities for local businesses and other non-profit organizations.
They air several different programs that highlight local businesses and non profit organizations. For one of these programs, called "The Mercer Buy Local Connection," entrepreneurs Daisy Newson and Gabbi Johnson interview business owners in the Mercer County area. They will soon be expanding their focus throughout central New Jersey. The 28-minute program usually highlights two or three businesses per episode and can be easily shared on social media, as all of CNJN's programming is posted on their YouTube channel.
This program is free for the businesses, but contributions would be welcome. "The Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce sponsors the program because they see that it's a good economic development issue and especially a lot of the small businesses were hurt over the last three years so that any way the station can give back to the local business community, we plan to do that," said McCoullough. "If there's a business that wants to be highlighted in Somerset County, they should contact the station, I'll forward it along," he added.
Local businesses can also sponsor individual programs for a nominal fee. They do promotional announcements, similar to the ones found on public broadcasting stations and NPR. The main difference between one of these spots and a traditional advertisement is that it not allowed to have a call to action. "It's an underwriting spot and it's very reasonable. I mean, considering how many folks we reach," said McCollough.
CNJN has partnered in the past with The Montgomery News to run meet-the-candidate forums. "When there's a local election, we hope to have forums where people can debate the issues. When we go live, we normally go live on Facebook and our channel," said McCollough.
All CNJN programming is featured on its website and may be accessed over Comcast Channels 28 and 30 in Princeton and Channels 43 and 45 on Verizon FIOS throughout Mercer County and parts of Montgomery Township and Rocky Hill. Programs are also carried by streaming organizations Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire, reaching a potential audience of over 100 million viewers. All programs are also posted on the station's YouTube channel by the same name, CNJN, which can be seen world wide on the internet.
CNJN is always open to suggestions for new classes and programs.
"If you have ideas for shows or classes, or if you own a business anywhere in the Mercer or Somerset counties and would like to do a buy local segment, or sponsorship, contact me," he says.
George McCollough: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information and to inquire about programming, visit www.cnjn.org.