Video segment on Visalia will air Feb. 2-3 on C-SPAN
C-SPAN spotlights Visalia history, authors, and government officials on its American History TV and Book TV
By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
VISALIA – Visalia will be in the national spotlight next month when C-SPAN brings the city to millions of viewers across the country.
A special segment featuring Visalia will air on C-SPAN’s Book TV (Comcast channel 109) and American History TV (Comcast channel 110) on Feb. 2-3. Book TV, the cable network’s non-fiction book channel (on C-SPAN2), and American History TV (on C-SPAN3) feature the literary life and history of each of selected cities the first and third weekends of each month on the public affairs network.
Recorded locally last week, C-SPAN Cities Tour’s crew visited various literary and historic sites, interviewed local historians and non-fiction authors, and conducted educational and community outreach from Jan. 6-10.
“We feel like this is huge and a really great opportunity to be in the national spotlight,” said Suzanne Bianco, Tourism Marketing Director for the Visalia Convention and Visitors Bureau (VCVB). “We will get a lot of national attention and it didn’t cost us a dime.”
Bianco said C-SPAN routinely reaches out to its local cable-provider counterparts to find mid-sized communities to feature on their Cities Tour program. Comcast’s local representative then contacted Visit Visalia, the online presence for VCVB.
Led by coordinating producer Debbie Lamb, the C-SPAN crew arrived in town on Saturday, Jan. 5 and stayed through Thursday, Jan. 10. Sunday, Jan. 6 was spent taking B-roll of Visalia landmarks. Monday, Jan. 7 was a sit down with Mayor Bob Link who talked about the city, it’s government and its people. Link, who began serving his third term as mayor last month, provided the producers with insight into the city including restaurants where they could get a taste for the Visalia culture.
“It was all very positive and I really enjoyed meeting with them,” Link said. “I’m eager to see how it comes out.”
Also on Jan. 7 was an interview with historian Terry Ommen. Set in the Abraham Lincoln-themed study of Ernie Crotty’s Queen Anne style home built in 1883, Ommen discussed how Visalia military regiments fought their own version of the Civil War thousands of miles from the bloody battlefields of the northern and southern parts of the eastern states. Bianco said Ommen’s historical books, such as “Wild Tulare County: Outlaws, Rogues and Rebels,” were a key element of the show for both American History TV and Book TV.
“Visalia hit a lot of their touch points,” Bianco said.
Visit Visalia took the camera crew on a driving tour of Visalia on Tuesday, Jan. 8 including Mooney Grove and its two museums, the Tulare County Historical Society Museum, featuring its Native American baskets and preserved buildings of the past, and the Tulare County Museum of Farm Labor and Agriculture, showcasing the county’s rich agricultural history.
On Wednesday, Jan. 9, C-SPAN interviewed two other local artists before leaving town on Jan. 10. There were plans to visit Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park, but Bianco said the government shutdown prevented that opportunity from happening.
The silver lining, as Bianco pointed out, is that the show will focus on Visalia with the backdrop of Sequoia and Kings National Park, and not the other way around, where the city is often a footnote for accommodations to the national parks.
“It’s unfortunate that the parks were not open, though they will discuss the national parks as part of the segment,” Bianco said. “We have a great working relationship with our local parks and they have been a strong supporter of our city.”
While the segment will debut in February, there is a good chance it will be shown more than once this year, and even in future years. Mayor Link said he talked with local people who had been part of similar productions and noted that most of those were still playing even six years after their original air date.
“With our history and our friendliness, I think people looking to visit the West Coast will find a wonderful spot in Visalia,” Link said. “And I think this plays very well for Visalia getting its name out there.”
Created by the cable TV industry and now in 100 million TV households, C-SPAN (Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network) programs three public affairs television networks in both SD and HD; C- SPAN Radio, heard in Washington DC and nationwide via XM Satellite Radio; and a video-rich website which hosts the C-SPAN Video Library. For more information, visit the C-SPAN Cities Tour website and follow the program on Twitter @CSPANCities.