Wide Awake: SJ on TV
We’re taking our home to the airwaves

Picture this: You’re scrolling through the on-screen TV guide and you see “This is South Jersey” in one of the slots for NJTV. Surprise, surprise – it isn’t an embarrassing reality show; it’s a 30-minute piece about our community. It’s entertaining. It’s happy.  And now, for us here at SJ Magazine, it’s finally real.

I am more than excited to tell you that something we’ve been working on for about two years is about to happen. SJ Magazine is producing a television show for NJTV. (That’s the state’s public television channel. You may remember it as NJN.) The program will highlight everything that is so cool about South Jersey – things that a lot of people don’t know about, like our wineries and amusement parks.

As a business move, this is great for our advertisers because we can offer them exposure in print, online and now on TV. That makes us a multi-media company, which sets us apart from our competitors.

But for those of us who live in SJ, this means so much more. Finally, we get to show the world – or at least everyone else in the state – all we have to offer. We aren’t North Jersey. We aren’t Philadelphia. We are unique and special. If you’ve lived here for a few years, you know what I’m talking about.

The first episode takes viewers to the Valenzano Wine Festival, Grounds for Sculpture and Diggerland. I host the show, taking viewers along for the ride as I visit our home-grown treasures. We try to make it light and fun, while teaching people a little bit about our towns. (It’s especially light and fun as you watch me taste my way through the wine fest.)

Meg Maley of Collingswood will host segments I feel I’m not exactly cut out for, like practicing with a roller derby team or exploring Cowtown Rodeo. I just don’t see myself as that adventurous (which is sad, I know), and Meg is perfect.

We’ve completed the first episode and I’m just waiting to get an air date, which should be sometime in October. If you’d like to see a clip of “This is South Jersey,” visit our YouTube channel. We’ll also post the show date and time as soon as we get it.

This has definitely been an out-of-my-comfort-zone experience for me. I’ve spent the last few months doing work I’ve never done before, like writing and recording narration, known as “voice-overs.” I was surprised to see how much of a television program is actually video with narration. Next time you watch a show that has a host, like Anthony Bourdain’s  “Parts Unknown,” pay attention to how often the host is not on the screen, and instead you just hear his voice during various scenes. I had no idea, so it was a shock when I realized how much writing I had to do after we filmed. I was thinking my work was done when our director called “Cut.” But it turns out the writing was more work than the filming, especially since I have never written a voice-over. I’d spend two hours writing 23 seconds of copy. I really did. I’ve been writing magazine stories for over 30 years, and 23 seconds of copy almost killed me.

We are now filming the second episode, which is taking us to Camden. My experience here at the magazine has convinced me the world really needs to see the positive parts of Camden, not just the crime and violence.

I guess that’s what I hope “This is South Jersey” becomes – a chance for people to see our community as it really is. All of it. There are no drunk kids on the boardwalk here and no women fist-fighting at parties. There are a lot of great parts to South Jersey, and we have an opportunity to highlight them. I hope you will watch our television program and love it as much as we do. It’s about us all, and it’s for us all.

September 2014
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