The man behind the scenes at Chatham’s CogecoTV is taking a turn in the spotlight as a finalist for the annual CogecoTV Star Awards.
CogecoTV Chatham Producer, Erik Shaw has been selected as a finalist in the annual awards for his short documentary on the former Merrill Hotel and current Retro Suites.
According to Peter Martin, manager of programming and community relations, the segment was chosen from among 18 Ontario CogecoTV stations for special recognition at the June 21 awards ceremony, which was to be televised live Wednesday from Kingston.
Shaw’s segment, which features Chatham-Kent Museum education co-ordinator Deanna Bullard, and Retro Suites manager Pete Tsirimbis was aired as part of the CogecoTV Ontario program Main Street June 4. The program takes a look at heritage buildings on main streets across Ontario, and Shaw said anyone who missed can look for it to be re-broadcast over the next weeks and on YouTube.
Shaw, who moved to the Chatham area when he was young, attended Fanshawe College in London for a broadcasting film course.
“I loved Fanshawe and the hands-on training I got there,” Shaw said of his college experience. “I did a co-op placement here with Pete Martin that was great, and thought it would be really great to come back here.”
After Fanshawe, however, Shaw took advantage of an opportunity to see the world in a “floating hotel,” taking a job with a cruise line producing shows. He ended up at Cogeco Sarnia until he was selected for the position of staff producer in Chatham.
The idea for the documentary for the Main Street segment was born from an interest Shaw had in Chatham’s King Street and what it used to look like, with help from Bullard and Tsirimbis to flesh out the details and do the filming.
“Bullard partnered with me to look into the old Merrill. A lot of people don’t know it was once a grocery store and butcher shop,” Shaw said. “It was really cool to sit down and see what King Street looked like in the day and how it changed. It went from wood to brick, from horse and buggy to car. Look at the old CPR hotel railway; Chatham was a trading mecca in the 1800s.”
Shaw added that the new Sons of Kent craft brewery in the old Cinema Six building used some of the old wood from Retro Suites renovations in their building, and Retro Suites recovered and repurposed some of the wood they exposed.
The King Street/William Street area shows the history of Chatham and what it is all about, which came through in Shaw’s documentary, and earned him a finalist position for the Star Awards.
“The Star Awards are yearly awards that are given out Cogeco; it’s like the Oscars of CogecoTV,” Shaw joked. “There are so many productions we do and there is so much talent out there, I was surprised mine was chosen in the top three of 18 stations. There is a lot talent in Ontario and they picked a small little hotel still standing in Chatham.”
“They picked mine. It is nice to be recognized and I’m proud to be chosen, but I couldn’t do it without all the inspiration I get here.”
Throughout the year, the producers have a busy schedule, but Shaw said it does slow down a bit over the summer, giving him a chance to go into the community, “shake hands and talk about what people want to see.”
“We are working on live streaming council meetings, and we work hard every day to promote our little town,” Shaw added. “We partner with a lot of great people; local schools, football, minor hockey, CK council, and dived right into Rotary TV Bingo. We take the profit and put it right back into the community.”
The station also goes out into the community to find local non-profit organizations to profile and raise awareness.
“We like to see smiling faces and with lots of prep work and planning, we are happy to cover local events.”
Shaw said the station is always looking for volunteers and students looking to get co-op hours. Anyone interested can go to cogecotv.com/chatham.