Gould Runs Show Behind Scenes

May 7, 2002
| By Katy Rent |
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HOLLAND – Followers of the dynamic duo might believe that Robin is the guiding force behind Batman’s crime stopping prowess. But those beliefs are misplaced, because Alfred, the loyal butler who tidies up behind the scenes, is the man who deserves most of the credit.

Chris Gould can identify with Alfred.

Gould, executive dreictor of Macatawa Area Community Media Center (MacMedia), is the vibrant woman behind the scenes who makes sure everything is running smoothly at the Holland media center.

Gould’s Batman is Steven Niedzielski, production coordinator for MacTV.

“Steven is the one everyone sees and the one who is visible to take care of problems. I am the one behind the scenes who takes care of the little things,” said Gould. “That is why I use this (Batman) analogy when describing my work here.”

Gould, who said she stumbled into her current position, started out in art.

“I went to school for a degree in graphic arts and then realized there wasn’t any money in art, so I got into drafting,” she said.

After college, Gould began working for Lear Siegler in Kalamazoo. Also about this time, the drafting business was experimenting with a new process called Computer Aided Drafting (CAD). When the company expressed an initial willingness to try CAD, they tossed it to “the new girl” and told her to “give it a try.” With a willing attitude and good disposition, Gould accepted the task of boiling down the program.

Of course, she succeeded and today CAD is an integral part of the industry. It’s the can-do attitude that has helped her achieve her current position.

“I was always the one who was willing to try anything. If there was something that no one else wanted to do I would step up and try it. That is the single reason I am here today.”

After nailing down CAD, Gould went on to conquer new territory at office furniture manufacturer Haworth Inc. She started there as a drafter and when she left, 13 years later, was Webmaster of the $1.2 billion company.

Throughout this time Gould also was finishing her business degree at Davenport and serving on the MacMedia board.

“After being on the board for a while I saw the need for an executive director and thought it would be fun. After suggesting it I also suggested I take the position … and here I am.”

When MacMedia started in 1994, it focused solely on the Internet. Now, the organization has branched into public access television and radio.

The Internet arm of MacMedia, MacNet, started as a free server and focuses on smaller, personable service. “We started with 16 modems and one server, meaning only 16 people could dial in at one time. We now have 300 lines and 2,700 users, and we still look to expand,” said Gould.

“MacNet is the nearest and dearest to my heart because it is the one I work with the most and it’s the oldest. I like the fact that I can walk down the street and see the man whose Web site I set up or the lady whose computer I helped install. It is more about the relationships with customers than the number of users we have that is important to me and the rest of the business.”

MacTV is where Batman, a.k.a. Niedzielski, comes in. The public access television station serves as a media vehicle for expression, Gould said. “One thing I learned from another television station was don’t just view it, do it,” noted Gould. This is the philosophy MacTV encourages. The station exists to “channel” creativity and foster all kinds of ideas.

“If someone wants to put together a program we will train them on the equipment, let them go shoot their program and then show it on our station for them. There are people who have basket weaving and there are others who have their own karaoke show. We get all kinds of interesting things.”

One thing that people don’t realize, Gould said, is that there are really three parts to public access television: public, education and governmental access. With MacMedia already full-force into public access, the media center looks to expand into educational and governmental programming.

“We are entering the educational access arena by starting a video contest. Our pilot program is getting started now with a local middle school. The first contest will be a 60-second public service announcement about teenage drinking and driving. Everyone’s video will be shown on the station, regardless if they win or lose,” said Gould.

In the area of governmental access MacTV already is covering many township meetings and Gould feels it is only fair to continue to do so. “The city’s franchise fees are turned over to us to pay for our staff, equipment and resources, so it seems only fair that we give them something in return,” added Gould.

As a part of the community herself, Gould sees the importance of showing all aspects of it. She encourages people to show off the talents of themselves and their loved ones. “There are so many talented people in this area. Why not tape what you or your kids are doing and show it to the entire community?”

With a large family, including six teen-agers, Gould sees the importance of her statement and the importance of showing pride in the community and family. Gould enjoys spending time with her family and volunteering in the community.

“Four of our children are going to college within the next two years and I want to spend as much time with them as I can right now. What other time I have left I volunteer with the church and with the Chamber of Commerce. Also, my work is in the community so I am connected every day,” she noted.

MacMedia has made strides in its work in the past and this year shouldn’t be any diffeent. “We would like to do more for the people. We are going to continue to focus on teaching people how to communicate,” Gould said. “The beauty of it is that not everyone communicates in the same way and we are there to help with many options that can help the entire community reach out and communicate with each other. These are the ideas and concepts that will take us through many more years.”

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