The Pueblo Chieftain

Tuesday August 12th, 2003
Lifestyle

COURTESY PHOTO/MIKE TREJO
CHIEFTAIN PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONS/MIKE SWEENEY AND CARLA FINN
Mike Trejo's energy has created a public=access television show.

Plugged in

PUEBLOAN SHARES HIS PASSIONS ON PUBLIC-ACCESS TV SHOW

By SCOTT SMITH
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN

He's producer, director, cameraman, host, editor, business manager, booking agent and creative force behind the most eclectic television show you've probably never seen.

But, mostly, Mike Trejo is a regular guy: a hard-working husband and dutiful father who happens to love motocross, mountain bikes, hard rock music and good old-fashioned belly laughs. He's also a guy who isn't afraid to share his dream - and a few of his favorite things - with Pueblo's viewing public.

Trejo's half-hour variety show - “Mike Trejo's Access Unlimited,” which airs five nights a week on cable community-access Channel 19 - is predicated on the simplest of formulas: What you see is who he is.

"The show is based on what I like and what I do," says Trejo, 38. "Its purpose is to give exposure to those things - and I view it as a way to give back to the community. My goal is to help people understand that there is public-access TV in Pueblo and that they all have the opportunity to use that service that's available to them. I think a lot of people don't even know it exists."

For Trejo, a 38-year-old rock musician (he plays in the local band Wicked Wayz) and professional motocross and mountain-bike competitor, the Access Unlimited show represents a culmination of more than four years of personal perseverance. Armed with the belief that Pueblo needed a public-access channel that was truly accessible to all residents, Trejo began the long and sometimes frustrating process of making it happen.

"There were a few roadblocks along the way," he says.

Trejo pestered the cable companies. He met with representatives from city government, assuring them that there would be no objectionable content (“They wanted to make sure I wasn't going to air chicken-killers or extreme Nazis or something,” he says). And finally, he went to work on Scott Richards, the coordinator of media production at Pueblo Community College and the person who manages the community-access channels' programming.

"He probably kept bugging me for about two years: ‘When can we get it on the air? When can we get it on the air?’Ê” says Richards. "Mike is really unique in that he's been able to sustain the programming - it's a tribute to him and his desire.

"With most community-access, ‘Wayne's World’ type programs, people do it once or twice and they discover how hard television really is, how much time and effort it takes to even do it halfway. As a result, they do one or two shows and fold. But Mike has kept on plugging away."

After Access Unlimited debuted in May 2002, Trejo has cranked out an additional 19 episodes. In the beginning, the variety show was aired semi-sporadically, but it now can be seen at 11:30 p.m. Friday through Monday and on Wednesday; each episode usually airs for two weeks.

Trejo is one of the first to admit that Access Unlimited is not for everyone. But, then, it's not supposed to be - it's directed toward people who share the same interests as its creator.

"I know Mike has his following; he has his group out there who can't wait to see the next show," Richards says. "And there are probably an equal number of people who don't understand it, who say, ‘Why is this on our channel?’Ê”

For the record, Trejo's show is hardly an exercise in self-indulgence. He keeps his own face time to a minimum, preferring to fill the commercial-free show with wall-to-wall music videos, two-wheeled action footage, comedy routines and interviews with the rich and famous (including Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi and rockers from Tesla, Poison and Skid Row, among others).

There is no set format for the show, which features everything from freestyle motocross footage set to screaming-guitar music, to recently released videos, to mountain-bike treks filmed by Trejo and his helmet cam, to redneck-humor skits. Trejo relies on his friend, Duane Vigil, and others to help produce original content, conduct interviews and shoot concert footage.

But there's no doubt as to who spends the most time and energy on the show: It's Trejo, armed with a digital camcorder, home computer, editing software and hardware and high-quality tapes. He devotes most of his free time (he works the graveyard shift at the Target Distribution Center) to creating the unusual series - as much to prove a point as to make sure there's something on the tube that he knows he'll enjoy.

"The thing is, anybody can do this, if you want to," says Trejo, who grew up in Boone, graduated from Pueblo County High School and earned a bachelor's degree in art from the University of Southern Colorado. "You can get all the equipment you need for maybe $1,000."

Trejo is proud that Access Unlimited usually includes a mix of local and national acts, but he remains somewhat frustrated by the relative dearth of participation by Puebloans.

"I'd like to see more of a response from the community," Trejo says. "That's one of the reasons we're here."

The show, predictably, is a little rough around the edges. Some of the humor tends toward the scatological (hence, the late-night time slot) and the camcorder videos can be a bit uneven, but Trejo is quick to point out that he's not a broadcast pro. He does, however, apply his own standards of good taste to the content.

"I'd give us a PG-13 rating," he says. "I use the same guidelines as what you'd see on ABC, NBC, CBS, the mainstream channels.

"It's weird, though. I really don't watch TV. I don't like TV. I watch the news and motocross, when it's on. And I catch my own show sometimes - just to make sure it's on."

Although Access Unlimited is ad-free, Trejo includes brief thank-yous to a couple of local sponsors who help defray production expenses. He also includes public service announcements for the American Cancer Society and hopes other nonprofit groups will take advantage of his air time - or even better, start shows of their own.

"There's no profit in it at all," he says. "And I don't care about ratings or anything like that. I do it because I want to do it."

For more information on “Mike Trejo's Access Unlimited,” call 542-1420, e-mail rokket660@cs.com or visit the show's Web site: www.rokket.com/TV/Home.htm