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EIGHT, ARIZONA PBS ISSUES NERD “ROLL CALL” – IN RUNUP TO
2013 PBS NERD WALK – OCT. 19

National “Geek Chic” phenomenon boosting growth of Eight’s PBS Nerd community

PHOENIX -- (August 27, 2013) Serving niche interests and showcasing the latest developments in science and other disciplines has been a mainstay of PBS programming since its inception. Now Eight, Arizona PBS has parlayed its status in that terrain into a new identity that is resonating with people all over Arizona and beyond: the PBS Nerd.

“Being nerdy is no longer about bad sci-fi and math jokes,” says Eight’s Promotions and Events Coordinator Bob Beard, the creator of the PBS Nerd concept, which is gaining traction at other PBS stations around the country, where they are also planning their own PBS Nerd Walks this year for the first time. “We live in a time where everyone’s a nerd for something – and at Eight, Arizona PBS we believe that’s something to celebrate.”

Eight’s annual Nerd Walk, in its third year this fall, started in 2011 as Eight’s contribution to ASU’s Homecoming Parade (Eight, Arizona PBS is a non-academic unit of Arizona State University, which co-owns the PBS broadcasting license).  “Public television is the one entity in contemporary broadcast media that can commit to in-depth explorations of both mainstream and obscure topics, so we saw this as an opportunity to put a face to all of those diverse interests and passions,” says Beard.  “The Nerd Walk is a place for people to come together and share their niche interests -- united around the idea that it's cool to be smart and it’s OK to be really enthusiastic about the things you love.  So you’re into space, dark matter and black holes? Pop Opera? The pursuit of the perfect guacamole recipe?  You’re in the right place!”

Without any significant promotional effort its first year, the Nerd Walk drew 180 participants, and nearly tripled that the second year. This year Eight is reaching out to community partners, and has created community engagement opportunities to grow the event. The rising popularity of “nerd” culture nationally is also serving to boost the growth of Eight’s Nerd Walk. In fact, Beard was recently invited to speak at the PBS national conference on the subject, and several other PBS affiliates in cities around the country are currently planning their own Nerd Walks. Beard also spoke at TEDx Phoenixearlier this year on the topic of nerd culture, which is also the

subject of his Master’s thesis at ASU. And this spring PBS trademarked Eight’s PBS Nerd logo design, which features the iconic PBS head donning horn-rimmed glasses.

Eight recently participated in the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con along with national representatives from PBS where street teams distributed 15,000 PBS Nerd buttons and collected a gallery of hundreds of photos of “PBS Nerds” putting their geek credentials on display.  PBS’s Comic-Con photo album got nearly 800 likes and 100 shares on Facebook. Additionally 4,200 fans waited in line as long as 12 hours to get into the packed Ballroom 20 at the San Diego Convention Center for the panel on PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery “Sherlock” series, and the upcoming PBS documentary Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle.

“Intense fandom – for any topic – is powerful,” adds Beard, “and that enthusiasm is infectious (I’m looking at you Downton Abbey devotees). Our passions define us, perhaps more than anything else – that’s what I find fascinating. And I’m pleased that Eight can play a role in convening the community, tapping into and hopefully also inspiring the breadth of collective knowledge everyone is individually ‘nerding out’ about.”

As part of the 2013 PBS Nerd Walk, fans of the station are invited to:

  • Vote on the 2013 PBS Nerd Walk t-shirt design;
  • Enter a video competition by creating their own videos (on mobile devices, Instagram, or other apps.), sharing what they are a nerd for. The top four finalists will have their videos shown at Eight’s Superheroes event Oct. 15th, and be in the running for the honor of becoming 2013 Nerd-in-Chief;
  • Sign up for event updates at www.azpbs.org/nerd;
  • Register to participate in the 2013 PBS Nerd Walk taking place Oct. 19.

Support for the Arizona PBS Nerd Walk provided by Bookmans Entertainment Exchange, WONKA® NERDS® and the Arizona Ghostbusters.

About Eight, Arizona PBS

Eight, Arizona PBS is a trusted community resource. For 50 years, the PBS station has focused on educating children, reporting in-depth on public affairs, fostering lifelong learning and celebrating arts and culture. Eight achieves its mission through the power of noncommercial television, the Internet, educational outreach and community-based initiatives. Its signal reaches 86 percent of the homes in Arizona. With more than 1 million viewers weekly, Eight consistently ranks among the most-viewed public television stations per capita in the country. For more information, visit azpbs.org.

Eight is a member-supported service of Arizona State University.