By Arwyn rice and Leah Leach
Peninsula daily news
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Darwin Gearey, 62, has donated equipment worth an estimated $100,000 from his Port Angeles Television Productions company — which he began in 1988 and closed when he retired in 2011 — after having worked for NBC, PBS, CNN and other national and regional news outlets.
“It was a phenomenal gift,” said Lisa Hitt, instructor of broadcast media production at the skills center at 905 W. Ninth St., after receiving the donation last week.
“It brought us even closer to having that educational access television channel,” she said, noting that Gearey donated everything needed to get on the air except a $16,000 Leightronix digital programming recorder.
“I anticipate that this time next year, if not sooner, we will have the [programming recorder] and have our own Channel 21,” Hitt said.
In Ann Brewer's memory
Gearey donated the equipment in memory of Ann Kellett Brewer, “a star Peninsula college media and journalism instructor and an international correspondent extraordinaire who was taken from us far, far, too soon. We all still miss her,” Gearey said in a letter to announce the donation.
Ann Brewer, wife of Peninsula Daily News Publisher and Editor John Brewer, died March 20, 2005, from complications of breast cancer. She was 55.
“Ann was just the most amazing person, just a phenomenally talented person,” Gearey said.
“It was a major benefit to the community to have someone that intelligent and creative teaching young people.
“She had a lot of friends in the community who were stunned to lose her.
“She should have had a long life ahead of her. She is what I would classify as the best and the brightest.”
Said John Brewer:
“Ann was a huge admirer of Darwin's video skills, and this is a wonderful, wonderful gift in her memory.”
Had read PDN story
Gearey, a Port Angeles native, decided to donate his equipment after reading a PDN story about the skills center working to set up a studio for students.
“We had all this equipment that does a myriad of wonderful things,” he said.
“I thought what a waste to piecemeal sell it out to an equipment broker.
“Why not keep it together to benefit the skill center students?”
Gearey said he and his wife, Carol, don't have their own children, “but we care about the community.”
His donation includes two full-size Sony broadcast cameras, a large Winstead broadcast production console that could be used as an anchor desk, a 3,000-watt light kit, numerous studio-grade microphones, monitors, large Canon zoom lenses, broadcast recorders and digital editing units.
Those items — and all the cords and accessories — are everything needed to set up a live broadcast studio and do high-quality field shooting for cable access TV and live video streaming on the Internet, Gearey said.
PATV domain name
He also donated the PATV.com Internet domain name.
“The way we're using it, PATV stands for Peninsula Area TV and Pirate Athletics TV,” Hitt said.
Wave TV has designated Channel 21 as the local-public access/education channel.
Gearey did not have the digital programming recorder needed to get the student station on the air.
“We never needed one, since we were a content provider, not a TV station,” he said.
Hitt has been seeking sponsors, or underwriters, to help pay for the digital programming recorder, to be repaid in the form of advertising during broadcasts.
Concert to be filmed
PATV has webcast some events but with the Leightronix recorder would broadcast local high school and college sporting events, major student concerts, high school graduations and student-made programming.
Currently, PATV plans to webcast Port Angeles High School's Winter Concert in December.
Hitt said the building-trades staff at Peninsula College have said they will build the broadcast studio, donating labor and some of the materials.
The decision has not been made where to put the live studio: at Peninsula College, Port Angeles High School or the skills center.
Hitt added that no matter where it is located, all students will have access to use it.
Gearey also donated his entire large library of stock footage shot in Olympic Peninsula locations dating from as early as the 1980s.
He said he and contractors he hired for his company “were in the trenches. We were going out there and actually shooting.
“We were the people who actually did the work,” he said.
His production company compiled a long list of television accomplishments, including projects with Jennifer Lopez, Robbie Knievel and Jean-Michel Cousteau, the son of ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.
Gearey also filmed the grandson of renowned theoretical physicist Albert Einstein.
Albert Einstein Jr. is an oncologist, one of world's foremost experts on cancer, said Gearey, who filmed his lectures in Seattle.
“You can actually make an appointment with Albert Einstein Jr.,” Gearey said.
“He looks very much like his grandfather. . . . His hair was a little neater.”
One of Gearey's disappointments was putting together, with three days' notice, a five-minute spot on the history of the Elwha dams for then-Vice President Al Gore when he announced on television that the dams would be removed.
“I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down before the TV. CNN was carrying it live,” he said.
But when the time came, a “breaking news” banner crawled across the screen.
“It was the Monica Lewinsky scandal,” Gearey said. His film never aired.
His last production was a television advertisement for skiing at Hurricane Ridge, which he shot with Russ Veenema, Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce executive director, in 2011.
As Gearey was editing the film at Victory Studios in Seattle, owner Conrad Denke was giving actor Tom Skerrit a tour of the facility.
Skerrit “was very gracious, complimenting the facility and my digital footage,” said Gearey.
“That was a nice surprise and a fun way to finish my career as a commercial producer.
“How cool is that?”
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at email@example.com.
Managing Editor/News Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3531 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.