By Derek Alger
For 26 hours today and early tomorrow, CUNY-TV will show documentary programs about the devastating impact of AIDS, in observance of World AIDS Day.
CUNY-TV, the cable television station of the City University of New York, will preempt regular programming to air the shows, the majority of which have been made available by AIDS Community Television and producer James Wentzy.
The programs cover a wide range of topics, from health care and alternative treatments to gripping personal stories of men and women with the disease.
"This is a chance for the average person to learn what's happening," said Wentzy, a Manhattan resident originally from South Dakota. "To learn about the politics of AIDS, you only have to watch about three shows to get an idea."
CUNY-TV is on cable Channel 75 in all five boroughs.
Wentzy, 41 said he became interested in documenting AIDS activists after discovering he was HIV-positive three years ago. He began collecting footage of AIDS activists and today AIDS Community Television has a weekly show on Manhattan Cable and a monthly program on CUNY-TV the last Wednesday of every month.
Wentzy provided about 17 hours of programming on CUNY-TV for world AIDS Day, an annual commemoration for those who have died of aIDS. The other programs include "We Interrupt This Program 1993" and "Day Without Art," both produced by the Media Center of the Borough of Manhattan Community College/CUNY, and a special episode o CUNY-TV's weekly public affairs program, "MetroView," featuring AIDS activists including Maxine Wolfe and Richard Jackman.
Brian Camp, 40, program director at CUNY-TV, said the station aired programs in recognition of World AIDS Day last year but on a much more limited basis.
"We originally did AIDS programming last year but we decided to go whole hog this year," Camp said. "This is the first time we have had a twenty-four-hour cablecast for this occasion."
The only interruption in the special AIDS programming will be at 9 am when CUNY-TV's regular scheduled telecourse, "Introduction to Film Studies" will air.
"If I was to accomplish one thing, the best thing would be if someone got motivated to fight AIDS," Wentzy said. "It doesn't matter doing what. At least after watching this programming, people would understand."
Camp said Wentzy called him three years ago and they have kept in touch until this year when CUNY-TV decided to use Wentzy's tapes for it special day of AIDS programming.
"After Brian Camp picked up my shows, half my shelves were bare," Wentzy said. "It's a combination of feeling like a child abduction and relief, but there's never enough programming on AIDS.
Wentzy said that AIDS activists were essential in getting a response and forcing people to recognize and take action against the disease. "When you're out of sight, you're out of mind, but activists are in you face, they're always in somebody's face," Wentzy said. "I give CUNY-TV a lot of credit for letting me do what I want to do," Wentzy said. "I plan to go to my grave with a smile on my face."
World AIDS Day
Sunday, December 1, 1996
CUNY-TV / Channel 75 Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island see schedule of programs
consult your TV guide
World AIDS Day (December 1st, 1996) screenings of "Political Funerals"
- Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center
Buffalo, New York _http://www.pce.net/hallwall
- International Center of Photography (ICP)
New York City