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Chinese TV Station Links Generations

New America Media, News feature, Jun Wang Posted: Jun 04, 2009

LOS ANGELES--As the economic recession claims more casualties in the news industry, two Chinese media veterans bucked the odds and launched a new local TV station in Southern California.

Tiffany Liu and Jerry Chang mortgaged their homes and created the Chinese TV station TBWTV. The two had worked in the media industry in Taiwan for decades before moved to the United States in 1996. Both are Golden Bell Award winners, the highest prize for TV journalism in Taiwan.

Since weve already got the highest achievement that TV people could get in Taiwan, Liu said, wed like to expand our lens and find new challenges.

Liu and Chang worked at several TV stations after they landed in the United States. Chang said the experience was not satisfying because too many times he discovered that money plays a bigger role than it should in producing programs here.

They decided to find their way back to the very core of journalism to give a voice to the voiceless, and at the same time to serve as a bridge between the local Chinese community in Southern California and the mainstream.

TBWTV is culmination of their vision, with Liu as the chief executive officer and Chang as chief operating officer.

Based in the City of Walnut, TBWTV started broadcasting last April in 21 cities in the San Gabriel Valley and surrounding area. Now its coverage has been expanded to the continental United States, as well as China.

TBWTV produces both Chinese and English programs, serving different generations. English programs targeting young people and small kids, like Youth Talk and Home Alone, give the station an appeal and perspective that is wider than what their immigrant parents would appreciate. At show time, the whole family is drawn together in front of their TV.

Henry Huang, producer and host of another English program, Community Roundtable, comes from a totally different background than the founders, whom he calls elder brother and sister.

Huang immigrated with his parents to southern California from Taiwan in 1985 as a third grader. When I was in sixth grade, I almost totally forgot Chinese and spoke only English, he said. Back then there were not as many Chinese immigrants.

By the late 1990s, a wave of Chinese immigrants moved into the San Gabriel Valley, and in some cities the Chinese population has become the majority. Huang found himself among Chinese immigrant students in his high school classroom. They lent him Chinese Wuxia martial arts and chivalry novels--and Huang became a fan. His Chinese classmates and the novels helped him reconnect to the Chinese language and community.

After graduating from UC Irvine School of Social Science, Huang worked in the financial industry for several years. Although he has no media experience, Huang shares the founders vision for the station and their passion for community services.

Community Roundtable features discussion of issues of concern for the Chinese community, such as immigration and law. Representatives from the Small Business Administration, the LA Police Department and other agencies make appearances.

Huang says he doesnt blame the mainstream media for ignoring the Chinese community and its perspectives because he understands they serve a general audience. And that creates an opening for the programming of stations like TBWTV.

Beyond his journalism mission, Huang is active in Chinese and Asian American organizations, including the Walnut Chinese American Association, the Foundation for Disabled Youths and the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association (APAPA).

Huang and his co-workers want to help the next generation of Chinese Americans nurture and be proud of their community. They organize the annual APAPA Youth Leadership Conferences where high school students listen and discuss with community leaders of the latters successful experience.

Its the last generations efforts that brought us here, said Huang.

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