March 26, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LACK OF UNDERWRITING PUTS THE MECKLENBURGERS ON HIATUS
Charlotte, NC – After four seasons, 35 episodes, 18 Telly Awards, and two Emmy Award nominations, "The Mecklenburgers" is headed to the back burner.
County Public Information Director Danny Diehl announced today that the innovative TV show designed to inform and educate people about County responsibilities, services and results will be put on a hiatus from producing new episodes. Although the show is on target to meet its goals for viewers, production quality, and educating people, "The Mecklenburgers" hasn't met its underwriting goals, according to Diehl.
"From the show's inception, we said that underwriting would be necessary to continue producing new episodes," said Diehl, who also is the show's executive producer. "Although we have had various sponsors, the level of underwriting is not enough to offset the cost of production." Diehl said underwriting would need to cover at least half the $30,000 per episode production costs to warrant further production of the show.
The County Public Information Department staff will reallocate production funds to enhance and expand the County's web pages, publications, and outreach activities to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and other public health issues, protecting the environment, domestic violence and other public safety concerns, homelessness, senior citizens, and to increase civic involvement. In particular, Diehl wants to partner with other organizations to improve communications with people with limited English proficiency, especially Spanish-speaking residents.
"Redirecting resources to other important public information needs will improve our ability to inform and educate people about County services without seeking additional funds from taxpayers," said Diehl. "Also, because we have an impressive library of 35 episodes that can be re-run at very little cost, we will continue to receive value from our previous investment in "The Mecklenburgers."
The final two new episodes of the current fourth season will air on March 30 and April 6, respectively, at 6 p.m. on WAXN-Action 64. After that, re-runs of "The Mecklenburgers" will continue airing in the same timeslot on WAXN-Action 64, and at various dates and times on GOVTV, which is channel 232 on the Time Warner Cable digital tier. The show also can be viewed online at
"The Mecklenburgers" began in 2004 on WTVI as a unique way to educate the public about County services. In 2006, the show moved to WAXN and saw viewer ratings climb 400 percent over two years. The show currently averages about 4,700 households per episode, which is up 50% from the previous season.
The show has received national and regional acclaim for its offbeat, one-of-a-kind way of delivering County information. In its first three seasons, the show has received 18 national Telly awards, two regional Emmy Award nominations, and several national County government communication awards. The ensemble cast includes several local actors, plus local media veterans Robert D. Raiford, and former news anchor Suzanne Stevens. Focus groups have revealed that people watching the show learn useful information about County funding and services. Show topics have included substance abuse, communicable diseases, homelessness, the status of seniors, foster care and adoption, park and recreation facilities and services, recycling, and more.
"It is extremely rewarding to work in an organization that encourages creativity and innovation," said Diehl. "I'm pleased with what we have accomplished in breaking new ground with The Mecklenburgers."
# # #
Media Contact: Rick Christenbury, 704-432-0344 or