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Since 1995

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So what is Trackside anyway?

Trackside is a non-profit, half-hour television series that visits places and points of railroading interest. The series is based in the railroading capital of the United States, Chicago, Illinois, and most of our stories cover topics from this area.

Our first story is about Santa Fe steam locomotive 2903 and its move from Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry to the Illinois Railway Museum (See the Programs link).We began taping it in February 1995 and have been making programs ever since.

L to R: Series producer Ken Brown and Series Host Dave Reed talk with members of the 20th Century Railroad Club on an excursion to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Jim Burd Photo

Welcome to Trackside Online, the official website for the television series Trackside. Be sure to come here often for the latest news and information about the show.

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Where is the program broadcast?

Our programs distributed and cablecast mostly via local public access television, although the first 26 episodes have been broadcast over WYCC Channel 20 out of Chicago. Local public access television stations are open to anyone in a particular community that wishes to create their own television program or, in our case, sponsor an outside program. Either way, the program must follow certain guidelines, or the station will not show it. These include things like soliciting money, selling products, excessive profanity, or adult situations.

Access stations usually only cablecast within their local community or town. These access stations can be operated in several different ways: part of the local city government, operated by local citizens and subsidized by cable company profits, or any other arrangement you can think of.

We have no control of how or when our program is cablecast on these stations or how many times a program is repeated. Neither does Aurora Community Television or Wheaton Community Television.

For us to expand our coverage area, we need your help. If your interest in how, click on the "Contact Us" button. It won't cost you a thing.

Why are you doing this?

In the beginning we thought it just sounded fun. Series producer Ken Brown was looking for a subject that would be interesting to a lot of people and would have a lot of story potential so we wouldn't run out of material. He knew host Dave Reed through a few silly family videos they had done together a couple of years earlier and asked him to be a part of Trackside.

If you've ever watched public access television at all, you know that sometimes the production values are little on the lacking side. We wanted to make a series of programs that would be very enjoyable to watch and listen to. In other words, everything should be in focus and audible. And usually not to shaky.

Trackside programs and Trackside tapes are not offered for sale. This is strictly a non-profit venture for us. But variations of a couple of our programs can be obtained through www.machinesofiron.com.

Are you trying to make a living at this?

No. These days it seems like everybody and their brother is making railroad videos for sale.

We're just a couple of guys who started this project and wanted to see how far we could make it go. Chuck Zehner and "Tracks Ahead" started the same way. So far the crowning achievement has been getting the series aired on WYCC. To this day, people are still asking when Trackside will be on WYCC again. (It's a long story, but involves a five digit number.)

For now, we don't make, any money on this project. We do get to help out various organizations by giving them access to a powerful marketing tool that promotes their various trips, excursions, and other activities. In return, we get to talk with the people that make it all happen.

Sounds like you're just a couple more train nuts with a camcorder.

We'd like to think that we're not.

At least 60 to 80 hours of traveling, videotaping, writing, and production go into each new program. Many of our earlier shows were shot in the Super VHS-C video format and edited on high-level consumer grade VCR's, albeit in a basement, non-commercial studio.

But technology marches on and becomes more affordable so now we're shooting in digital using a three chip professional camera. Programs are also edited digitally on a dedicated video editor. They are then outputted onto digital tape and eventual distribution.

Drop us a line. We'd really like to hear from you. If you have any interesting video footage you'd like to share, we want to see that too.


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