Dakota County: Aviation TV show seeks national reach
January 9, 2012
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  • While growing up in Eagan, childhood friends Paul Jackson and Mark DeJoy spent many Sunday mornings watching Sherm Booen’s “The World of Aviation,” a locally produced TV show that ran on WCCO for nearly 30 years.

    “It was on right before Laurel and Hardy,” Jackson recalled.

    Looking back, Jackson and DeJoy said the show played a big part in what they do now: Jackson is a pilot for Southwest Airlines, while DeJoy is an award-winning local TV producer and host.

    The show also inspired them to blend their careers and interest in aviation to produce a local show that tells stories about aircraft and those who fly them.

    “The Flightline” debuted last fall on KSTC-45. A 13-episode, 26-week run on Fox Sports North and Fox Sports Wisconsin that reached five states in the Upper Midwest wrapped up last month.

    Jackson, DeJoy and Mike Francis – the third member of the production crew – are now making a push to reach a national audience. They say there is no other show on local or national TV geared for both aviation enthusiasts and pilots.

    With recent technological advances in high-definition cameras that can be mounted on a plane’s wing and a pilot’s helmet, “the time is right,” Francis said. He owns a small South St. Paul print and TV production business that also serves as the show’s editing studio.

    “A show like this hasn’t been done before,” he said. “With these small point-of-view cameras, we’re able to bring people right along for the ride.”

    Although they are negotiating with a national sports network, they need cash – a lot of it – to offset production costs and make a commitment to the network.

    Last month, they asked the show’s supporters and the public to pledge money, with the goal of raising $93,500 by Jan. 22. As of Thursday afternoon, 56 “backers” had pledged $5,482 to the cause on, which is facilitating the Internet drive.

    “We have a bit of an uphill battle,” said Francis, whose role includes everything from setting up the small cameras to selling advertisements and maintaining the show’s website and Facebook page. “We’ve pretty much been subsidizing our advertising because we believe in the end product.”

    The idea to try to go national sprung up after they heard feedback from Web viewers, as well as advertisers, DeJoy said.

    The show’s Web videos generate 40,000 to 50,000 hits a month, he said, “and everyone was asking when they can see our stuff on TV.”

    The show’s regional reach, meanwhile, was too costly for many local businesses and too small for national advertisers, DeJoy said.

    “We’re a small team, so we’d like to get out of the sales business and just produce it,” said DeJoy, who is the show’s co-host, cameraman and executive producer.

    DeJoy might be best known in Dakota County for his work on Town Square Television, a community cable TV station. For the past decade, he has hosted and helped produce the news magazine show “Insight 7.”

    And whenever DeJoy was in need of background or a comment for an aviation-related story at Town Square TV, he would call up his pilot friend Jackson. The two have known each other since kindergarten and graduated from Burnsville High School together in 1983.

    During one of those conversations, the idea for an aviation-related show popped up. Soon, they found themselves flying all over the region for stories.

    They say “Flightline” has given them the opportunity to experience aviation in ways their day jobs do not.

    “I remember commenting last summer when we were up in Brainerd doing a shoot that, although we were working, how nice it was spending a sunny day going up and down with a biplane,” DeJoy said. “That’s what this allows us to do. I’m interested in airplanes. I’m working for myself, and I love the topic. So it’s a good time.”

    Source: pioneer Press
    Date: 2012-01-07