KCET Fills Public Affairs Programming Gap in LA

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Not enough local and state affairs find its way on television but Los Angeles’ independent public television station, KCET, works to fill the gap. Debuting this month on KCET will be two shows dedicated to local life in LA—the award winning SOCAL CONNECTED returns along with a new series, TOWN HALL.

While SOCAL CONNECTED is a weekly news magazine that reports on issues that affect Southern California and is shot in and around Los Angeles, the new TOWN HALL show, done in conjunction with the veteran public affairs organization, Town Hall Los Angeles, will consist of in-studio conversations with leaders to focus on California solutions to local, regional and even national concerns.

The shows are not designed to be political said long time host Val Zavala. However, because of the causes some of the guests champion, such as dealing with the poor or less advantaged, they can have a political bent.

Are the shows aimed at the audience of a decidedly liberal city? Zavala said the productions are drawn from a sense of the city but she is interested in exploring all kinds of solutions to the city’s problems, including problem solving that is not typically government based. One area she highlighted ripe for such a discussion is the battle between charter and traditional public schools.

Zavala has been hosting SOCAL CONNECTED for eight seasons, racking up a slew of local Emmys. She laments the idea that there is so little television programming that covers and explains local issues.

“Local public affairs doesn’t garner the big audience,” to draw advertisers for the commercial stations, she says. KCET hopes to fill the void. “We are the little anomaly out there that is filling a gap that’s getting bigger and bigger all the time.”

But Zavala believes there is an audience for the TOWN HALL conversations that debut October 4. Guests include former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and screenwriter and director John Ridley.

“Who’s going to listen to a half-hour of conversations these days?” Zavala asked. “Even I was thinking how am I going to make this interesting for a half-hour. Before I knew it the time whizzed by. They were more interesting and fascinating than ever I expected.”

The SOCAL CONNECTED series kicks off its new season on local issues, public policy decisions and quality of life in LA October 10.

 

 

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