By day she's a graduate student in molecular and cell biology at nearby Harvard University. It was as an undergraduate in California that Ms. Newton first got a taste of local broadcasting. She was a DJ at her college's radio station. For Newton, the allure of public TV is that it lets her "take one band and give them more than their 15 minutes of fame," she says.
There are three types of cable, or local, access: public, educational, and governmental. It's on public access that local residents exhibit their work - sometimes inspired, sometimes ridiculous.
At Nutmeg TV in Plainville, Conn., which reaches eight local towns, a viewer can find "Space Age Times," a show that explores space and NASA. "The Art of the Bonsai" explains how to care for the small trees.
In Enid, Okla., on Pegasys, shows like "Take a Ride on the Chisholm Trail" plumb local history. And the "Postcard Show" features a collector who shares the story behind each of his postcards.
Taped in New Jersey at Princeton Community Television and aired on public-access channels throughout the country, "A Fistful of Popcorn" revolves around a panel of local residents who discuss art films.
And this summer, 13- to 25-year-olds in Grand Rapids, Mich., produced the feature-length film called "Kara in Black." This fictional account tells the story of the conflict between two sisters, one who joins the Army while the other is strongly antiwar.
Mr. Riddle, whose organization represents 3,000 channels, estimates that more than 30 percent of programming is religious; 30 percent or so is civic; at least 20 percent is creative, including things like teleplays and children's fashion shows; and another 15 percent is dedicated to sports.