JACKSONIAN: Ken Stiggers | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

JACKSONIAN: Ken Stiggers

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"It's like a box of chocolates: You never know what you're gonna get," quotes Ken Stiggers, 41, of the City of Jackson's Public Education Government network studio (formerly officially called Public Access, and still referred to that way casually). He runs the local studio almost singlehandedly. "I wear 87 hats," he says with a deep Barry White-like "heh-heh-heh." Standing in the cramped base of operations of the studio, with videos lining the white concrete walls, he wears a black turtleneck sweater, dark jeans, brown leather shoes and a bomber jacket—a slick outfit that matches his build perfectly, if not his demeanor.

Often joking and laughing, Stiggers describes a series of satirical shows he created called "Black Comedy" that is based on a radio program in Atlanta called the "I'm Not Black World Report." The shows air on the public-access channel "when I can find a spot." One show called "Negro Rigged Jeopardy" is hosted by a two-dimensional cartoon character named M'otel Williams, who refuses to be black, sometimes saying he's Indo-Chinese or French Canadian. The contestants—Aunt Jemima (sans the kerchief), Uncle Ben and the Cream of Wheat guy—answer questions about black history, therefore combining comedy and education. Uncle Ben responds to all the questions with the answer "Yessir!" Even serious questions such as "Who invented the traffic light?" (a black man named Garrett Morgan) are asked with a wink and a nod.

Stiggers, a Pittsburgh native and Penn State graduate, believes intensely in public-access television, calling it one of the biggest freedoms Americans have. "Viewers need to understand that this is given to the common everyday man who can come into the studio to talk about growing greens in his back yard," he says. He admits that some of the programs work the First Amendment to the fullest degree, but he is devoted to freedom of expression. Stiggers would love to see more community involvement and a wider variety of shows. He sees public access as a forum for people to redress grievances and utilize the opportunity for free speech. He says public access is "like Habitat for Humanity, you're a part of it."

Like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get from Ken Stiggers. He is alternately serious and joking, waxing philosophical about our duties as citizens and making jokes about moving to Atlanta in 1985 because his parents had moved there. "I tried to stay up North but the South was callin'," he says. Recruited to Jackson to run the public-access channel, he's got his work cut out for him, and he's up for the challenge.

"It's like a box of chocolates: You never know what you're gonna get," quotes Ken Stiggers, 41, of the City of Jackson's Public Education Government network studio (formerly officially called Public Access, and still referred to that way casually). He runs the local studio almost singlehandedly. "I wear 87 hats," he says with a deep Barry White-like "heh-heh-heh." Standing in the cramped base of operations of the studio, with videos lining the white concrete walls, he wears a black turtleneck sweater, dark jeans, brown leather shoes and a bomber jacket—a slick outfit that matches his build perfectly, if not his demeanor.
Often joking and laughing, Stiggers describes a series of satirical shows he created called "Black Comedy" that is based on a radio program in Atlanta called the "I'm Not Black World Report." The shows air on the public-access channel "when I can find a spot." One show called "Negro Rigged Jeopardy" is hosted by a two-dimensional cartoon character named M'otel Williams, who refuses to be black, sometimes saying he's Indo-Chinese or French Canadian. The contestants—Aunt Jemima (sans the kerchief), Uncle Ben and the Cream of Wheat guy—answer questions about black history, therefore combining comedy and education. Uncle Ben responds to all the questions with the answer "Yessir!" Even serious questions such as "Who invented the traffic light?" (a black man named Garrett Morgan) are asked with a wink and a nod.
Stiggers, a Pittsburgh native, believes intensely in public-access television, calling it one of the biggest freedoms Americans have. "Viewers need to understand that this is given to the common everyday man who can come into the studio to talk about growing greens in his back yard," he says. He admits that some of the programs work the First Amendment to the fullest degree, but he is devoted to freedom of expression. Stiggers would love to see more community involvement and a wider variety of shows. He sees public access as a forum for people to redress grievances and utilize the opportunity for free speech. He says public access is "like Habitat for Humanity, you're a part of it."
Like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get from Ken Stiggers. He is alternately serious and joking, waxing philosophical about our duties as citizens and making jokes about moving to Atlanta in 1985 because his parents had moved there. "I tried to stay up North but the South was callin'," he says. Recruited to Jackson to run the public-access channel, he's got his work cut out for him, and he's up for the challenge.
— J. Bingo Holman

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