SCHENECTADY — Municipal meetings are seldom well-attended affairs.
Aside from people with business before the city, neighborhood association representatives and a handful of interested city residents, meetings are typically sparsely attended.
But officials frequently deliver comments with a home audience in mind, turning toward cameras to directly address viewers, touting community initiatives, promoting upcoming public events or simply outlining their positions on votes.
Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo said residents “absolutely” watch the meetings, citing feedback from constituents.
But the broadcasts have been plagued with audio issues. To fix them, the City Council has allocated $1,350 for a rewiring project designed to improve sound quality for home viewers.
“We’ve received numerous complaints,” said City Council President Ed Kosiur.
Councilman Vince Riggi cited a letter from constituents who described positioning their wheelchairs next to their television set and still couldn’t hear.
Due to the low sound level, “if they do [channel surf], they get blasted out of the room,” Riggi said.
Open Stage Media films the meetings, which are streamed online and are available on public access television through Verizon FIOS and Spectrum.
Station Director Zebulon Schmidt described the current wiring system in City Hall as a “jumble” in need of serious cleanup.
“A lot of [wires] go nowhere, but they’re all intertwined,” he told the City Council.
Open Stage doesn’t sell advertising, which means they’re not part of the Nielsen Media Research studies determining viewership numbers.
But Schmidt believes people do watch their elected officials in action.
“When something happens at a meeting, we definitely hear about it,” Schmidt said. “That’s kind of our barometer."
Lawmakers unanimously approved the resolution on Monday.
Schmidt said the project, which will also improve audio in the committee meeting room on the ground floor, could be completed as early as Friday.
But despite the upgrades for home viewers, hearing the proceedings can prove to be an obstacle for viewers attending the meetings in person.
Two air conditioners were operating at full blast at Monday's City Council meeting, often drowning out discussion and making it difficult to hear the proceedings.
An attendee turned off one unit midway through the proceedings, and a lawmaker shut off the other shortly thereafter.