2005-11-04 / Columnists

On The Bayfront

By Elisa Hinken

Did you know a complete forest ecosystem can be found in the heart of Manhattan? Or that a mother bear can give birth and nurse a litter of cubs during winter slumbers? Or that there are more than sixty nesting pairs of the once endangered bald eagle in New York alone?

You’ll learn these fun facts about nature in New York and so much more by tuning in to a new television program called Empire State Outdoors (ESO). Underwritten by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), this weekly, magazine-style show is set to debut in major markets throughout the state in mid-December.

Each of ESO’s half-hour episodes feature “family-friendly” outdoor adventures showcasing the state’s abundant natural resources. The program’s goal is to engage parents and children through fast-paced, interesting show segments and demonstrate how easy and fun it is for families to explore the Empire State’s great outdoors. Interwoven into the show’s storyline are educational reminders about environmental stewardship to underscore the importance of protecting New York’s resources for future generations to enjoy.

Two years ago, an ESO “pilot” was shot and screened for environmental organizations and sportsman’s groups, and generated rave reviews. DEC selected Carr-Hughes Productions, an award-winning New York company with an excellent reputation for production planning, on-site videography, and program scripting. Carr-Hughes lists among its accomplishments the production of major, live sporting events, including Olympic coverage for NBC Sports.

With its creative team in place, DEC planned video shoots across the state, during all four seasons, to highlight the many interesting programs and recreational opportunities that will be featured in each weekly episode.

Camping with your family next weekend? Going fishing or hiking with the kids? Are you looking for some basic “how-to” information on snowshoeing? Empire State Outdoors has a show segment to interest you!

ESO’s first season will take you back country camping in New York’s Adirondack mountains, paddling in the great Cooperstown regatta, fishing for bluefish on Great South Bay. Come aboard DEC’s fishery research vessel, the Seth Green, as we ply the waters of Lake Ontario; join us as we make maple syrup in a sugar shack, and search the Pine Bush for one of New York’s tiniest species, the rare karner blue butterfly. Through recurring vignettes on outdoor recreational activities, an outdoor classroom for kids, and outdoor safety messages for kids of all ages, the focus on “getting outside and doing things” will continue each week.

Every ESO episode offers viewers a stunning video pathway to New York’s great open spaces—its sparkling lakes and rivers, breathtaking ocean beaches, majestic mountain ranges, and the wide variety of fish and wildlife inhabiting them.

Program co-hosts Tim Singer and Colleen McCarthy demonstrate how easy, economical, and exciting it is to participate in recreational activities in New York, making ESO an appealing program for women and families, as well as casual and avid sportsmen. A convenient time slot—Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. on most station affiliates around the state—makes it easy for families to join in the fun.

The debut of Empire State Outdoors in December will mark the transition of a great idea into a great program. Research indicates mothers of school-age children are eager for TV shows that provide educational, wholesome alternatives to the usual weekend television fare.

A variety of promotional events are planned to coincide with ESO’s launch, including online contests available at www.esotv.com, merchandise giveaways, sponsor prizes, and host visits to affiliate stations and DEC’s Aquarium building at the New York State Fair. Contests are also planned to reward loyal viewers.

Empire State Outdoors will help New Yorkers discover the world just outside their door, and help foster wonderful memories and traditions of outdoor, family fun. Through the “open window” of a family’s TV screen, DEC will offer a virtual pathway through nature’s wonders; a pathway so enticing that New Yorkers of all ages will want to follow it—and reconnect with the beautiful, outside world. Empire State Outdoors…Brought To You By Nature. Empire State Outdoors debuts on Saturday, December 17 @ 7:30 p.m. on Channel 2, WCBS (in most markets). Check local listings for the time and channel.

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