At PBS Showcase with Associate Director of Broadcast and Distribution Sreedevi Sripathy

Posted on May 15, 2009

PBS Showcase and General Managers’ Planning Meeting brings together inspirational speakers, valuable programming and promotion information and professional development opportunities on a wide range of subjects. Read about ITVS's Associate Director of Broadcast and Distribution Sreedevi Sripathy's experience at this year's event where she discusses what's ahead in public television and her unrelenting urge to sing the song "Good Morning Baltimore" from the musical Hairspray.

PBS Showcase 2009 was held in the fabulous city of Baltimore––and this being my first visit to Baltimore and my first PBS Showcase, I had a great time and ate my fair share of crab cakes. On the first day of Showcase, the Sesame Street Workshop hosted a breakfast to highlight the return of The Electric Company and to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street. We got a peek of some of the special guests in their upcoming season, including the First Lady Michelle Obama, along with an electrifying live performance from the cast of The Electric Company––those kids can sing! Attendees then got a glimpse of the first set of programs coming down the pipeline from PBS. ITVS’s very own Independent Lens received one of the biggest laughs from the audience with our preview of a program that is sure to a be a pop out hit of the season (I’d tell you what it was…but we haven’t officially published our schedule so I’m going to keep you guessing!). 

The day ended with a hosted reception by ITVS, P.O.V. and the National Minority Consortia celebrating independent films on public television. With the sunlight streaming into the foyer, it was a lovely evening filled with conversation and appreciation. Day two began with a series of workshops, where attendees could participate in discussions on kids programming, online video or how public service media can be innovative and transformative. This last session was facilitated by the incoming Senior Vice President of Innovation and Diversity at the Corporation for Public Broadcast (CPB), Joaquin Alvarado, who will officially take his position in a month, but is already hard at work engaging public television stations and public media to think bigger about what we can do in a new media age. 

The third day of showcase featured a great panel discussion facilitated by Orlando Bagwell of the Ford Foundation, with the executive directors of each of the National Minority Consortia. The topic of conversation was how diversity and innovation lead to the next generation. After some great morning sessions, the day ended with the new COO of PBS, Michael Jones, leaving us with some profound words about the relationship PBS has with the American audience––TRUST––and the importance of keeping that at the forefront of all we do. Woo! That was a great three days! Well, I will depart with my favorite story about one of my favorite people. I was speaking with Zvi Shoubin, the managing director of MPT networks (Maryland Public Television) about my desire to wake up my first day in Baltimore and sing “Good Morning Baltimore” from the top of my lungs. As I was telling him my intentions, he says, “Well you know, I created the dance show that is in Hairspray.” What? Tell me more! 

Well, at the time, Zvi worked for the ABC affiliate in Baltimore, and his boss approached him with this idea for a show––apparently someone named Dick Clark was making a splash nationally with a new show called American Bandstand and they wanted to do something similar in Baltimore. While a bit skeptical, Zvi agreed and voila!––The Buddy Deane Show in Baltimore was born and became the backdrop for The Corny Collin’s Show in Hairspray. And with that, I will sign off. Thanks again Baltimore and PBS Showcase––my only regret is that I didn’t get to stop and see Duff over at Ace of Cakes. Next time! 

-Sreedevi Associate Director of Broadcast and Distribution

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