Message from CAN TV’s Executive Director

An Update on CAN TV

February 20, 2024

As the Executive Director of CAN TV since early 2022, I have embarked on a journey of transformation and resilience, steering an organization deeply rooted in Chicago’s community fabric through uncharted waters. The recent complaint to the Better Business Bureau – a complaint closed within one week of its filing – and the ensuing media coverage have highlighted the complexities and challenges inherent in this journey.

Upon assuming leadership at CAN TV, I was fully cognizant of the significant hurdles ahead: a 27% decrease in cable funding, declining viewership and memberships, and the aftermath of a global pandemic. These challenges necessitated a strategic pivot to ensure CAN TV’s sustainability and relevance. Yet, the path to transformation is rarely smooth. Change, particularly in an organization with a legacy as rich as CAN TV’s, can evoke strong emotions and resistance.

What I had not anticipated was the intensity of resistance to change from some of CAN TV’s board members, staff, and internal stakeholders, nor the complexity of pre-existing relationships. Once professional and cordial, these relationships had evolved into a familial and insular network, resistant to external influences and new perspectives. This dynamic posed significant challenges as we began implementing strategic changes—changes unanimously agreed upon in a comprehensive planning session in 2021, before my arrival, but essential for CAN TV’s future.

Moreover, the resistance manifested in a more personal and coordinated manner. A faction of  employees, supported by board members resistant to change, initiated what seemed to be a targeted campaign against my leadership. This campaign led to the emergence of unfounded complaints against both myself and the organization. As a Black, gay man from the Eastside of Detroit, my commitment to expanding CAN TV’s outreach and diversifying our revenue streams, in line with our strategic plan, remains steadfast. Yet, I find myself confronting baseless allegations of racism, elitism, and xenophobia. 

Two years into my tenure, the emotional toll from this cognitive dissonance and staunch resistance to change is evident. However, it highlights the challenges of navigating and transforming a venerable institution like CAN TV amidst deeply entrenched dynamics and perspectives.

Despite these challenges, my initial days as Executive Director were marked by significant achievements, including securing a pivotal agreement with the NABET-CWA Union, representing our staff. This agreement, ratified by the union, emphasized our commitment to fair and respectful treatment of our employees, offering significant salary increases and enhanced benefits. This early accomplishment underscores our dedication to creating a supportive and equitable work environment, contrary to the unfounded claims that have surfaced.

Despite facing significant adversity and targeted efforts to undermine both my position, and CAN TV’s long standing reputation, I remain deeply proud of the substantial accomplishments we’ve realized together—accomplishments that speak volumes about the resilience, talent, and dedication of CAN TV’s board executive committee, and our remarkable staff. Over the past year and a half, we’ve achieved milestones that not only underscore our commitment to excellence, but also highlight the vibrant future ahead for CAN TV. Let me share a few notable achievements, each enriched with compelling data points that illustrate our journey:

For the first time in our 40-year history, September 2022 saw the launch of around-the-clock streaming through our newly revamped website,, and the introduction of the CAN TV+ app. This initiative has been a resounding success, with more than 28 million viewers streaming CAN TV programming in 2023 alone, significantly expanding our reach and accessibility.

Our Nonprofit Services team achieved a record-breaking year, producing 271 programs—the highest output since the onset of the COVID Pandemic. Moreover, we’ve grown our community by welcoming 15 new nonprofit organizations in the last year, a substantial increase from one in 2021 and five in 2022. This growth not only demonstrates our commitment to supporting a diverse range of voices but also our role as an essential platform for nonprofit visibility and advocacy.

In response to Comcast’s closure of facilities for public access stations in suburban areas, CAN TV stepped up as a beacon of support, welcoming two significant organizations—Governors State University and Czech American TV—into our community. This act of solidarity provided these organizations with a new home for their broadcasts, reinforcing CAN TV’s role as an inclusive and supportive platform for all voices.

Our dedication to providing a world-class experience for our members and viewers is further evidenced by our capital investments totaling over $500,000 in the past year. These investments have been strategically allocated towards significant upgrades in our infrastructure and studio technology, including the acquisition of new computers, faster network switches, state-of-the-art TriCaster Video switching, an Allen & Heath audio mixing board, and top-of-the-line Sony HDC-100 cameras. These advancements ensure that CAN TV remains at the cutting edge of broadcast technology, offering an unparalleled experience to our community.

These accomplishments, grounded in concrete data and measurable success, reflect the CAN TV team’s collective effort and unwavering spirit. Amidst challenges, our focus on innovation, community engagement, and technological excellence has not only sustained us but propelled us forward. As we continue to navigate the future, these achievements serve as a foundation for our ongoing commitment to serve Chicago’s diverse communities with integrity, creativity, and an open heart.

The journey of transforming CAN TV is ongoing. Though painful, the resistance we’ve encountered is not unexpected in the process of change. The successes we’ve achieved are not just mine but belong to the entire CAN TV family – the board, staff, and our community of viewers and content creators.

Change is a path laden with obstacles but also a path of growth and opportunity. As we move forward, I remain steadfast in my commitment to making CAN TV a beacon of community television, reflective of Chicago’s diverse, vibrant spirit. Our focus remains clear – to evolve, to serve, and to thrive, not just for the present but for the future of public access television.

The important work continues…together.