HORIZON AT 20: A PERSONAL JOURNEY IN FRONT AND BEHIND CAMERAS
By Ara Khachatourian
May 20th, 2009
Twenty years ago today Horizon broadcast its first episode in Southern
California on KSCI Channel 18 coming into thousands of living rooms
and becoming a mainstay. Today, as we celebrate this anniversary we
must understand the power of the medium and its relevance in our lives.
My personal involvement in Horizon came early on in its history. As
a college student in Boston who was involved in television production
working at a half-hour Armenian program that aired on local cable in
Watertown, Mass., I was approached by the leadership of Horizon in LA
to provide coverage of events in the Boston-area and ensure that the
tapes that were being dispatched every week were delivered on time to
the various cable operators that carried the program on public access.
With borrowed camera equipment from the TV department at my alma-mater,
Northeastern University, or the local Cablevision offices in Watertown,
three friends and I would pound the pavement to bring a glimpse of
our community into the homes of thousands who were experiencing this
for the first time.
At a time when our community was on the move due to the various
events in Armenia and elsewhere, it was critical to have a bridge
that linked its members together. It was important to realize that
Armenians, be they in Boston or Los Angeles, were actively mobilized
in the pursuit of a common cause.
It was the critical need to build this bridge that led Horizon
to engage in an exclusive deal with Hanna-Barbera productions and
translate episodes of the popular Yogi Bear cartoons in Armenian
to be broadcast here and in Armenia. This became one of the first
groundbreaking ventures that sets Horizon apart from the rest.
After my move here to Los Angeles two years later and working at
Asbarez, Horizon was part and parcel to my every day life. If anything,
Horizon serves as the definitive vehicle to chronicle the growth and
expansion of a community from an emerging force to a sophisticated
entity, on which most of our lives are anchored.
As host of "Community Forum," a weekly live talk-show I had the
privilege of spending one hour a week speaking directly to the
community. That show covered the gamut. From arts and entertainment,
to raw politics, to a forum for the community to engage, participate
and express itself. It was through those personal and intimate
conversations that the true power of television became apparent to
me as that discourse often transcended its time slot and moved into
discussions beyond the airwaves and within our daily life.
Horizon set a precedent in 1999 when through a unique partnership
with then Marcus Cable (later to become Charter Communications)
it became a 24-hour channel providing programming to the Glendale,
Burbank and La Crescenta communities.
After switching to a 24-hour format, Horizon became a go-to
destination, especially for news and politics. Our ability to
bring breaking news as it was happening, made Horizon a trusted and
integral part of community life. There were instances where this
ability reinforced our community’s place in a larger reality.
On October 27, 1999 I was awakened at 5 a.m. to be told that
gunmen had seized the Armenian Parliament and killed, among others,
the prime minister and the speaker of the National Assembly. By 7
a.m. we-Horizon-were on the air providing up-to-the-minute reports
from the siege, and through interviews and discussion, explaining the
ramification of the events on Armenia’s political life and future. What
we didn’t know was that there were others watching us. While we were
embroiled in the news of the day, we were also being approached by
the local news media who wanted to stage their newscasts from our
studios making Horizon the epicenter of the day and elevating the
relevance of our channel beyond our dedicated audience.
This, of course, was months after our airwaves served as a public
education platform for mobilizing, empowering and encouraging voters
to turn out in droves for an historic and headline-grabbing municipal
election in Glendale.
Only a year later, Horizon was thrust in the center of yet another
historic, but often controversial, election battle between Adam Schiff
and then Congressman Jim Rogan. The most expensive congressional race
to date in US history played out on our airwaves, as a Congressional
Genocide resolution was being used to persuade voters by tugging at
their emotions. The rhetoric was heated and it made for some great
television. The rest, as they say, is history.
For a year, I served as Horizon’s general manager. That multi-layered
experience gave me the opportunity to fine tune the programming and
allowed me the opportunity to interface with another integral aspect
of our community: the advertisers. In a short span of time, Horizon
had become a crucial tool for commerce for Armenian, as well as, non
Armenian businesses. Its airwaves were not only being used to inform
and entertain, but were also a viable component for sustaining our
programming and operations.
Looking back at the rich history of this venerable establishment
through my own lens, I can’t help but be humbled at the monumental
role it plays in serving our community and bringing all its forces
together. This distinguishes Horizon from other commercial broadcasts
that have since been established, as it continues to remain true to its
mission of catering to and becoming the voice of a diverse population
that throughout the years has grown and matured due, in large part,
to what Horizon has captured through its lense.
Happy anniversary Horizon!
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress