C-SPAN visits Macon to produce special series

pramati@macon.comJanuary 21, 2014 

There have been plenty of profiles before on Macon’s music heritage, its civil rights history and its antebellum treasures, among other topics.

Rarely, however, has all of it been spotlighted at once.

But that’s about to change with the arrival of C-SPAN, the public affairs cable TV network, in Macon as part of its 2014 Cities Tour. The segments are scheduled to air on C-SPAN2 and C-SPAN3 on Feb. 15-16. Macon will be the first of 24 communities across the country so highlighted.

“We look for cities with a rich history,” said Ashley Hill, a C-SPAN producer overseeing the coverage. “We love to visit small- to medium-sized cities that otherwise may not be seen by a national audience.”

The C-SPAN crew will film in Macon through Friday. Among the highlights:

• A look at local attractions, including the Hay House and the Ocmulgee National Monument;

• Macon’s music heritage, including soul legends Otis Redding and Little Richard and Southern rock pioneers The Allman Brothers Band.

• Meeting with local writers, including Buckner Melton, Andrew Manis, Conie Mac Darnell, Sarah Gardner and Lauretta Hannon;

• Looking at Macon in a historic light, including the integration of Bowden Golf Course and the restoration of the C-100 flown by retired Maj. Gen. Rick Goddard at the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins.

• Talking to high school and college students. C-SPAN officials spoke at Howard High School on Tuesday, and they are scheduled to talk to Mercer University and Wesleyan College students Wednesday.

At a Tuesday news conference at the Hay House, Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert said the program will be a chance to highlight all of the positives in Macon to a national audience, and possibly teach some history to local residents as well.

“There will be some exposure of little-known facts,” Reichert said. “It’s a rare opportunity to showcase our community and the projects we’re engaged in that make us special.”

Reichert said he’s particularly pleased to see producers highlight the Ocmulgee National Monument, which Macon leaders hope to see become a national park in time.

“It fits right in with us wanting to see it turned into a national park,” he said. “It’s deserving of federal protection.”

Hill said C-SPAN enjoys a strong partnership with Cox Communications, and that’s one of the reasons Macon was chosen. Lynn Murphey, executive field director for Cox, said the company was among the first cable systems in the country to support C-SPAN. C-SPAN gets all of its funding from cable systems and nothing from taxpayers or advertising.

Jared Wright, curator of The Big House Museum, spoke with members of the C-SPAN production team Monday about The Allman Brothers Band and the museum.

“We spoke about how The Allman Brothers Band fits into Macon, and how they represented Macon to the world,” he said. “We talked about how Macon went from a soul scene to a rock ‘n’ roll scene. ... (The visit) was unexpected, but we enjoyed it.”

Hill said she’s especially enjoyed researching Macon’s music history as well as meeting its residents.

“It’s a warm, engaging city,” she said. “The people here are so proud of their history. There’s so much pride. People here are so welcoming.”

To find out more about the tour, follow C-SPAN’s Twitter account or look up #cspancities.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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