Just imagine it. What would the view be like if you were able to attend a Phoenixville Borough Council meeting while sitting on Councilman Bob Tigro's lap?

While I take notes from the first row of council meetings, no more than 20 feet away from the most distant official, I still often catch myself sneaking a peek at a television monitor with live feed, to gain an even more intense perspective.

Those politicians can't easily hide from the camera. It brings the action in as close if you were a spectator sitting on Tigro's lap.

Council meetings have been shown to some Comcast Cable subscribers for quite a while and it's fun to watch democracy in action from the sofa or recliner.

But new this week is the premiere of two new 24-hour-a-day television stations. While they will share the same programming for a month or two, Phantom TV will soon be shown on Channel 4 and the Phoenixville Network (TPW) on Channel 54, and will act as a local government outlet.

Phantom TV is on the air following much delay and dashed hopes during long negotiations. We knew it was coming; but didn't know exactly when, although we should simply be happy that Phantom TV is now on air the without pointing any fingers.

Much of the programming will originate from the Phantom TV studios at the Phoenixville Area High School.

But don't be fooled. Although much of the work on Phantom TV will be done by students, everything will be professionally produced.

Several professionals including Tom Ramsey and PAHS TV production teacher Art Carucci have long track records.

I was invited to watch the filming of Phantom TV's Kick-Off Show with host Lou Beccaria. "TV star" Beccaria has been hosting his own television show, "Pokin' Around Phoenixville," for three years. You might also know him as the president and CEO of the Phoenixville Community Health Foundation.

Everything went oh-so smoothly for the taping and it wasn't easy work because several segments were taped with the shuffling of guests in and out of the camera's view.

As part of their studies, students ran the cameras with poise and obvious knowledge. Everything went like clockwork for the filming of the Kick-Off Show.

Phantom TV will give both high school students and the community a voice. Sports, school activities, community events, a live student-run news show at 7:35 a.m. on school days, plus a delightful mix of several feature shows hosted by members of the community.

Shows ready to go include topics such as local history, sport coaches, a call-in talk show, programming for seniors and a movie and arts show.

If you enjoy reading The Phoenix for its coverage of local events and people, you'll probably also be a big fan of Phantom TV.

The film crews will be videotaping all over the area and keeping track of the community. Smile if they point a camera in your direction.

We'll be more connected than ever with just a flick of the dial. The airwaves as viewed from our flat-screened digital plasma television sets will include many of our neighbors. The hosts will come from the East Pikeland, Schuylkill and Phoenixville Comcast area.

Local is good. We'll videotape our history as it happens and be able to preserve it for prosperity. We're in uncharted territory with a compass but no permanent direction to head toward.

We'll be able to keep an eye on the politicians and public officials to follow the money trail.

Phantom TV should be fun, too. PAHS students will gain a wider audience and it will be interesting to see the hosts each find their own little niche. What's on the horizon will be there 24 hours per day.

The posting of community announcements from the borough or townships will be almost as easy for township workers to prepare as an e-mail. If you're not sure when to put the Christmas tree or leaves out for pick-up, tune in to Phantom TV.

And if it seems the action is too close and the reality is a bit more than you can handle, just get off Tigro's lap and move to the opposite side of the room. Bet though, you won't be able to turn it off.

Bill Rettew, Jr. can be reached at brettew@phoenixvilllenews.com

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