FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Chuck Strinz
September 7, 2004 651-452-0122
Public Television Program Breaks New Fundraising Ground
Innovative production company auctions underwriting rights on eBay
(Eagan, MN) Underwriting funds for public broadcasting shows are hard to find these days.
Back On The Mississippi, LLC, an independent production company based in Minnesota, has come up with a new solution to the problem. The company is auctioning association with its television program to the highest bidder on eBay.
To see the auction, which ends around noon CDT on September 14, search for “underwriting credit” at www.ebay.com, or navigate directly to http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3838156979
Back On The Mississippi – Hidden Trails, Offbeat Tales will be made available to public broadcasting affiliates across the country via satellite on 9/27/04 (1000-1100ET/511).
The program has played in two markets and achieved impressive ratings. In the Minneapolis/St. Paul Market alone, it was viewed in over 100,000 households. Conservatively estimated, that means an underwriting fee of $25,000 in this single medium-sized market would have resulted in a return of 1.2 cents per impression.
Interesting sites and people along the Upper Mississippi River are portrayed in Back On The Mississippi. The show retraces the path of the Grand Excursion of 1854, and was first broadcast during the sesquicentennial of that historic but largely forgotten event. The Grand Excursion opened the Great Northwest to settlers, and despite its relative obscurity, it was tremendously influential in shaping the character of America today.
For more on the Grand Excursion and the program Back On The Mississippi, visit the Back On The Mississippi Web site at www.backonthemississippi.com.
Chuck Strinz, the writer/producer and host of the program, is extremely pleased with the support he has received from public television affiliates. “The people at Twin Cities Public Television have been great,” he said. “We really appreciate all their help and support .”
Back On The Mississippi was a labor of love for Strinz. Fortunately, the love was not misplaced. Although the company set up to administer the program’s business did not receive a dime of traditional underwriting support before it was produced – despite a fiscal sponsor relationship with the Minnesota Film & TV Board – it did enjoy free food and lodging for its crew when they shot the show in August of 2003.
“We rewarded our trade-out underwriters in a creative way, by including links to them on our Web site,” Strinz said. “Now we’re getting even more creative by offering the underwriting rights on eBay.
“We’re looking for a business or other organization with foresight,” Strinz continued, “one that can see the value of associating itself with the greatest river in North America, an icon that defines the nation to the rest of the world. The Mississippi is underappreciated in its own country. Back On The Mississippi does its part to change that.”
Strinz entered into the production of the show three years ago with his eyes open. Although he realized funding would be hard to come by, he was determined to make the best program possible. Judging from the ratings, it seems to have worked.
Here’s what Tom Holter, Twin Cities Public Television Program Director, had to say:
“We were very surprised at the viewer response to BACK ON THE MISSISSIPPI. We had a number of viewers ask if we would be airing it again - always a good sign. Of course we had scheduled 4 broadcasts of the program to let people know about, so that part was good. Each broadcast slot drew an audience that was almost double what we would normally draw for the time period.
I expect viewers enjoyed the fresh and off-beat approach to storytelling that you took. We know our audience has an insatiable appetite for history, so thank you again for making it available for TPT broadcast.”
The response is rewarding for Strinz. “One of the folks at TPT emailed me early in the project to say that the funding climate had never been so bleak. I emailed back and said I had a level head on my shoulders, and I would not get carried away, and … Wait, look, there on the horizon! Is it …? It is!!! Windmills!!! Sancho, saddle up my steed!”
Creatively approaching the funding problem is in character for Strinz. He pioneered online communications, establishing his first pre-internet business in 1983. He went on to found the world’s first online humor magazine in 1984, and created or developed the prototypes for a number of now-prominent Internet services. For more, visit www.strinz.com/creative.
Back On The Mississippi, LLC, is an independent production company established in 2003 and based in Eagan, MN. For more info, contact:
Back on the Mississippi
Back on the Mississippi