Don Lewis takes reins at Petaluma Community Access
After more than a decade at the helm of Petaluma Community Access, which operates a local television and radio station, Executive Director John Bertucci is retiring from the position he’s held since June of 2008. Though Bertucci will remain at the station until the end of March, the board of directors recently announced it has hired Petaluma filmmaker Don Lewis as the new ED. Lewis officially started at PCA on Wednesday, Jan. 2.
“We were totally blessed to be able to bring Don in,” Bertucci says, a few days after the transition began. “Don definitely has the pedigree, the experience, the energy and the enthusiasm to keep things going here, and to build on what’s been done over the last 10 years. This is a win-win for Petaluma. I’m truly thrilled.”
In addition to working for many years with Boys and Girls Club, serving in Petaluma and other locations, Lewis has directed and produced a number of feature films. His 2011 documentary, “Worst in Show,” about Petaluma’s annual Ugliest Dog in the World Contest, was co-directed with John Beck, and played in film festivals across the country, winning a prize for Best Documentary at the Kansas City Film Fest. He also served as a co-producer of 2010’s “The Violent Kind” and 2012’s “Holy Ghost People,” low-budget action-horror films directed by Petaluma’s Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores under the eye-catching directorial moniker The Butcher Brothers.
“You can’t produce a movie without learning how to juggle a lot of balls at once,” says Lewis, explaining the qualifications he plans to draw on as the new ED of Petaluma Community Access. “Similarly, if you work at a Boys and Girls Club, managing 30 kids and their parents, you learn quickly to get along with anybody and everybody, and to make anything and everything work. There are a lot of plates spinning in the air with something like PCA, so I see this as a similar situation. We have a very active board, a great staff, and a great group of volunteers. There’s a lot to do, and a lot to be done. I’m really excited.”
Asked if he’s ever managed a nonprofit organization before, Lewis jokes, “Well, the movies I produced never made any money, so …”
Though Lewis says he has no plans to direct or produce any content for the PCA television station, he does says he would like to teach some classes in the arts of editing and documentary filmmaking.
“That would not only be something useful for the community, but would give more people the skills needed to provide content for the television stations,” he says. “That’ll help us out in a lot of ways, because we really do want to put some renewed energy into what’s going on with our community television station.”
Lewis says he’s impressed with what Bertucci and the rest of the team have accomplished with the KPCA radio station, which launched in February of 2017, quickly becoming a hub of activity for local programmers with creative ideas for radio programs. He’d like to see something similar happen on the television side. Currently, PCA’s three channels are mostly used to broadcast city meetings, church services and local parades. There was a time, though, Lewis points out, in the days before YouTube, when local stations like PCA’s saw lots of creativity, with local community members hosting talk shows, comedy shows, live concerts and more.