The subscription price of George Mason University's Capitol Connection television service is $495 a year. The price was reported incorrectly Monday.
Even though Mike Kelley's PhD is in medieval literature, most of what he does at George Mason University these days is about as far as you can get from that background. But GMU can give much of the credit for its increasing public recognition to Kelley's program.
Or more accurately, programming. Kelley, assistant to the university's president, runs the Capitol Connection, a microwave television service that beams congressional hearings, deliberations of federal agencies and round-the-clock Satellite News Channel (SNC) programming to 200 very influential--but cable-less--area customers, including the White House.
Every five minutes during the televised congressional proceedings--picked up off the C-SPAN network--Kelley flashes George Mason University's name into a corner of the screen, to identify the transmitter of the program and grab some publicity. He also runs promotional spots during SNC news' commercial breaks.
"We've connected ourselves to the community, and that's what we've had to do for years," says Kelley, a GMU professor since 1972. "The real benefit is in the public relations."
Capitol Connection charges its users a basic price of $495 a month for the service. That's the break-even price: Capitol Connection exists under the auspices of the not-for-profit George Mason Foundation.
Kelley dreamed up Capitol Connection two years ago. It wasn't totally out of his line: he was news director at WASH-FM in the late 1960s before deciding to get his doctorate and go into teaching.
The service started with C-SPAN programming; two weeks ago it added SNC, an ABC-Westinghouse venture that, like C-SPAN, appears on many cable networks, and coverage of Federal Communications Commission hearings.
The operation is still so small that Kelley occasionally is roused from bed to solve a technical problem, and it was his voice that was heard saying, "You are watching the FCC live from Washington," when that service was inaugurated.
But Kelley has ambitious plans. He was instrumental in persuading former first lady Lady Bird Johnson to donate the family radio station WEEL to GMU earlier this year. Among his plans for the station are simulcasts of some of Capitol Connection's programming. "We can cross-pollinate our radio and television," he says. Also on the drawing board: national programming from GMU's own studios relayed over the Capitol Connections satellite links.
So Kelley, who once was "fed up" with broadcasting, is back in that field. But he hasn't let his other interests slip even though he's moved into GMU's administration building.
"I'm back in broadcasting, but I still teach one course a week," he says. "This semester it's history of literature. Last semester it was Chaucer."