HAWTHORNE, Calif. — Sharing information with the community of Hawthorne is a call of duty for Francisco Castillo, who grew up in the area.
“My parents still live here and one thing that they enjoy is just watching the channel and learning about their own community,” Castillo said. “I feel like that’s the same across the board for the rest of the residents in Hawthorne.”
He might have moved out of the area, but he’s just as dedicated to mentor staff and help residents learn more about their own community as a senior video specialist with the city’s Hawthorne Community Television department.
HCTV has been on the air since 1984 and has since expanded broadcasts of City Council meetings, events and more to YouTube for everyone to see.
Castillo said he has been with the department for about 17 years. During that time, he’s seen the channel win dozens of awards. While the aim is to win more, the feat has become a challenge, as he shared that the department is short of about four to six part-time staff reporters, editors and photographers.
“Maybe five years ago I would have said, ‘We have no problem. We have City News, Business Beat. We have this show. We have that show. We have another show. Another one is being produced right now, you know?’ That’s not really the case right now. We’re really struggling to keep our flagship shows up,” he said.
Between the pandemic, a hiring freeze and a lack of applicants — staffing back up has been a challenge, Castillo said.
In the meantime, Castillo and a limited production crew are working harder than ever to keep the channel going. One show they feature called Business Beat highlights new small businesses in the city — like Abril Quiroz’s Fur-Kids Boutique.
Quiroz said the feature helped her community learn about her business.
“When Hawthorne Community Television reached out, I was in complete disbelief. It did also help traffic people. People were also coming in and saying, ‘Oh, I saw you on YouTube.’ A little bit star struck,” Quiroz said.
It’s stories like Quiroz’s that keep Castillo and the department going.
“We have a responsibility to inform the residents here about what they have and what their taxpayer’s money is going toward,” Castillo said.
The production team is hoping to see more applicants join their department and share their dedication to showing off their City of Good Neighbors.
For more information about the current city of Hawthorne openings and Hawthorne Community Television, visit the city’s website.