Monday, April 21, 2014 · 5:51 a.m.

C-SPAN producers gather with local officials to outline plans for filming this week

Byproduct of publicity could be economic boost

(From left to right) Comcast General Manager Jim Weigert, Mayors Andy Berke and Jim Coppinger, and Executive Director of the Chattanooga History Center Daryl Black spoke at the event Monday morning. (Photo: Staff)

Area leaders met Monday morning to hear more about what C-SPAN crews will be filming while they are in town this week, and officials said this sort of national attention has the potential to boost the local economy. 

"At the chamber, we are all about jobs, so this is one more opportunity to tell our story to people who come here," Ron Harr, president of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said. "Fifteen years ago, you had to go out and recruit people to work here. Now, it's the other way around. People come here for a holiday, and they say, 'Do you have any jobs here? We want to live here.'"

The C-SPAN crews are in town this week because Chattanooga was chosen as one of 20 United States cities to be visited on the 2013 Cities Tour. 

C-SPAN is a private nonprofit public service of the cable television industry that covers the political process.

Cable companies, such as Comcast, partnered to create C-SPAN in 1979. It is supported by license fees paid by cable systems and satellite companies that offer the network to their customers and doesn't receive any government funding. 

It has three networks—C-SPAN, C-SPAN 2 and C-SPAN 3—and on weekends, programming revolves around books and history. 

Officials gathered at the new Chattanooga History Center (which isn't open to the public yet) Monday morning to hear C-SPAN producer Debbie Lamb talk about what crews will film while here. 

Lamb, who used to come through Chattanooga on family drives to Florida, said the city has improved over the years.

"The city has really revitalized itself," she said. "It's something you should really be proud of."

In May 2011, C-SPAN producers decided to take their coverage outside of Washington, D.C., so they started highlighting unique cities around the country, Lamb said. 

She said that there is too much in Chattanooga to cover, so producers may come back later for additional pieces on the Scenic City. She mentioned the possibility of a segment on the history center, specifically. 

But this time, crews are going to highlight TVA, the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Ross's Landing and The Passage, and the city's railroad history. 

They have plans to interview local attorney Sam Elliot about the only criminal case to go to the Supreme Court, which has Chattanooga ties. 

They are going to briefly touch on union activist Jimmy Hoffa's local connections.

They also have interviews with several local authors, such as Deborah Levine, Bill Hull and John Wheeler

The Chattanooga stories—which will be grouped in five- to 15-minute segments—will air Jan. 18-19 on nonfiction book channel Book TV (C-SPAN2, Comcast channel 104) and history channel American History TV (C-SPAN3, Comcast channel 105) during C-SPAN’s special. 

Lamb also said that there will be a special Chattanooga website and that the videos will be archived online.

"Chattanooga will live on in C-SPAN history," she said. 

The city has gotten an array of national publicity in recent years. 

The New York Times listed Chattanooga as one of the top 45 places to go in 2012. Columnist for Governing Tod Newcombe has also highlighted Chattanooga. 

In March 2012, MSNBC highlighted the Geek Hunt, and countless other publications took note of Chattanooga's entrepreneurial and technological scene. 

And local companies such as Variable Inc. and Volkswagen have been featured nationally in recent years. 

"We have had so many great opportunities in the last few years to showcase Chattanooga to the country and the world, and this is just one more great example," Harr said. 

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