A Smart Black History Month Double Play for ABC Stations

By TV / Video Download Archives
Cover image for  article: A Smart Black History Month Double Play for ABC Stations

Local television stations, such as the eight that ABC owns and operates around the nation, are reaping big benefits from widespread public adoption of smart TV sets and connected devices. The result is a wave of new local, regional and national access anytime to the content they generate. In the case of Black History Month 2021, ABC's owned stations have a pair of smart TV pathways to reach viewers with an assortment of programs, news coverage and features in celebration.

There are the local applications crafted by ABC stations in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina and Fresno, California, distributed through Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV and Android TV-powered sets in each area. That's 32 in all. And then there's Localish, the venture formed more than a year ago consisting of a series-centric linear channel with an assembly of short and long-form segments.

When Localish rebranded as a linear channel, it became available to 17 million TV households.

Jennifer Mitchell, senior vice president of content development at ABC Owned TV Stations, is especially excited about what Localish is bringing to a more comprehensive treatment of Black History Month this month. The venture's focus is essential and offers a programming advantage in serving communities of color in each ABC-owned station's service area, she asserts.

"Localish was born out of (the stations') desire to represent the communities they serve authentically," Mitchell says. "It's unique style of storytelling is focused on bringing out the good in American cities, by elevating the people, places and small businesses that unify communities."

An important example of how Localish's series lineup relates to Black History Month subject matter is More in Common, in which each episode spotlights people from different backgrounds or cultures who find unexpected common ground in addressing an issue. Over its first year, More in Common has enjoyed top ratings in its time period among the ABC-owned station markets. "It's paved a unique way for us to highlight communities of color," Mitchell notes. One unique story, she explains, was about a former neo-Nazi and his friendship with his parole officer [a Black woman], which came to the attention of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter, who invited them to participate together in a panel at the King Center. "[More in Common] remains a force, with high impact reporting relevant to current events making an impact in the communities it serves, as can be seen during coverage of the civil unrest surrounding the death of George Floyd," Mitchell adds.

Throughout February, Localish's channel and content stream will have a specific emphasis. "(We'll be) featuring black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs throughout America, from a leading winemaker in Vermont to a female welder in Philadelphia," explains executive producer Michael Koenigs. "(We'll) also be promoting short-form and long-form content across our platform this month."

Here's a rundown of Black History Month highlights each ABC-owned station will deliver to smart TV households:

WABC/New York-- Episodes of Here and Now, the long-running Sunday public affairs series, produced via the famous Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, located in Harlem. Here and Now is a contemporary continuation of Like It Is, the groundbreaking and long-running (1968-2012) documentary/interview program hosted by former news anchor and correspondent Gil Noble. WABC is also producing segments on African American frontline workers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

KABC/Los Angeles -- Salutes to the Tuskegee Airmen and famed architect Paul Revere Williams, plus Localish segments spotlighting the city's oldest African American-owned businesses.

WLS/Chicago -- Coverage of virtual town halls dealing with race and equity matters.

WPVI/Philadelphia -- A spotlight on local African American doctors and business leaders.

KGO/San Francisco -- Weekly specials on local black history and culture.

KTRK/Houston -- Segments on the Texas Black Cowboy Museum and African American skateboarders, plus live coverage of virtual town halls.

WTVD/Raleigh-Durham, NC -- "Past, Present and Future" reports on local influencers and change agents.

KFSN/Fresno -- A week-long set of profiles about African American heroes and role models.


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