- Bonnie Klein and Sandy Rockowitz of Portable Channel watch a television set outside with a group of young men. Photograph by Larry Gale, 1972.
Portable Channel was a Rochester, NY non-profit (1971-1987) founded by documentary filmmaker and activist Bonnie Sherr Klein. Portable Channel supported community access to video equipment, provided training, and produced programs with an emphasis on community activism and documentary work. Portable Channel’s mission was to expand television into a medium for social dialogue and artistic expression by encouraging community involvement in TV production.
The Portable Channel tape collection consists of 910 videotapes in various formats; the majority of the material is ½ inch open reel with some ¾ inch and a few examples of 1 inch and quad. A itemized list of the collection can be viewed here. About half of the videotapes in the collection were produced for HOMEMADE TV that ran from 1972 to 1975 on WXXI-TV in Rochester, NY. Over 200 digitized videos from the Portable Channel archive can be viewed from VSW’s Vimeo channel.
In May, 2020, VSW received a Recordings at Risk grant from Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to digitize 200 of the earliest Portable Channel tapes. The grant program is made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Videos from the CLIR project can be viewed here and the metadata from these tapes can be accessed here.
All programs are © Portable Channel / Visual Studies Workshop. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- David Christoff, Steve Manes, and Sanford Rockowitz film for Homemade TV Episode 1 (1972).
- Senior citizens watching themselves on television in the first episode of Homemade TV, "Portable Channel Meets Senior Citizens," in 1972.
- Television monitor that reads "Produced at Portable Channel, 308 Park Ave, Rochester, NY." Circa 1973.
- Page from Portable Channel's Homemade TV catalogue describing "Self Help Productions," which aired on WXXI-TV in 1973.
- Poster advertising a Homemade TV episode titled "Women on Women," which aired in 1973.
- Original Portable Channel poster advertising a video workshop with artists Ralph Hocking and Sherry Miller at VSW, 1974.