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Assembling the Final Show
While the film's being scored, we create a show open and short biographical teases to each of the segments. We hire a narrator to voice those pieces. Don Hopfer, one of our in-house producers, puts those elements together.
Once the final music and audio tracks have been laid down and we have assembled all of the program elements, we have a show! Then it's on to closed captioning, technical evaluations and hopefully some favorable advanced press.
Our Creative Services department mounts a major promotion campaign. They send press releases and related program materials to garner reviews about the show before it airs. They run on-air spots, buy print advertising and strike creative barter deals, such as mounting large billboards on the side of Valley buses and promotional slides in Harkins Theaters.
Program Related Premium Selection
We then acquire what we call program-related premiums. These are "thank you gifts" that we send to viewers when they make a financial contribution to KAET during the broadcast of the show. We try to think of gifts that viewers might actually want ... so with Images we're going to offer signed copies of a Dykinga and Muench book, a VHS of the documentary and a CD Rom with additional program-related content.
The broadcast premiere is when the nerves really kick in. We try to premiere all of our local productions during a pledge drive, when viewership is typically high. It's nerve wracking because you just watch, hoping that the show raises a lot of money. Something I never realized until I started working for public television is that it really is like casting a vote: If the phones ring, it means people like what you're doing. If not, you start wondering about that job stomping grapes in Italy ...
People often ask, do other public television stations around the country air these shows and, if so, does KAET make money from that? This is a topic that requires a bit more time but the short answer is: we are an Arizona station so our number one priority is making shows that appeal to our viewers here. Once a show is completed, if we believe that other stations would be interested in it, we make it available nationally. Unfortunately, this usually does not equal money. Generally, public television stations do not pay for the right to air each others' programs. We do make a little money when viewers buy the home video of the program. (We include a home video tag at the end of the film so viewers know how to purchase a VHS copy).
So, then what? Well, after it's all over, we start the process again - with a new project. Years ago, a commissioning editor at London's Channel 4 told me he marveled at how producers could endure these long, drawn-out gestation period, give "birth" to their baby, and then go right back at it as if there had been no labor pains. He wondered how this could be. The only response I could think of was "Because we love it."