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C-SPAN Bus Wraps 25-Year Anniversary Tour

The C-SPAN bus just wrapped up its 25-year anniversary tour, where it hit all 50 state capitals over a 14-month period. Cablefax talked with C-SPAN’s manager for marketing Heath Neiderer on all things bus-related and its education initiatives.

What’s special about the 25-year anniversary?

Our 25-year celebration started September of 2017 when we launched the new bus. We thought about ways to bring attention to the bus program, but also that we would celebrate 25 years this November. We did a 50 state capitals tour that concluded this week in Albany, NY. We logged about 38K miles to do it all. We had the bus open at the state capital, we took it to universities, it was a great way to talk about what we do at C-SPAN and recognize the 25 years. At each capital, we had unique programming as well. It was a huge undertaking. The bus prior to this had been to all 50 states in ’96 and ’97. In such a short time frame everything went so smoothly and Hawaii and Alaska were great. It was a really great success.

Why does C-SPAN partner with affiliates, and what are the benefits for them?

One of the reasons the bus program was started was to get outside of DC, and bring a face to C-SPAN, but also to highlight and emphasize our relationship with the cable industry. To this day we drive our funding from the cable industry. But a lot of people think we get it from the government, so that alone in highlighting our relationships, that is a great way at the local level to talk about that partnership. In addition, we work closely with the cable companies and operators to identify the venues, the middle schools or the universities that we want to foster a relationship with. They get the grassroots aspect of it, where we connect with people that are important to them in the community.

What is the history of the buses?

Physically, this is our fourth bus. The first launched in 1993, the second in 1994. We built our third bus in 2010, and then we retired that and now we have the new bus. Over the years the bus has taken on different looks and iterations. It started off as a school bus. We’ve also had a Book TV bus, geared towards Book TV programming. We’ve had several campaign buses, and next year we’ll rewrap this bus with a campaign 2020 bus. It’s had many faces over the years, which has served us well. Two things I love about this job: the first is the engagement with students. They’re engaged. They know public affairs, they know current events. They’re on top of it. I have faith as I get a little bit older, I have a lot of confidence because I interact with them. The second is you never know who’s a C-SPAN lover, and how diverse our audience is in regards to the viewership and why they love C-SPAN and how much they appreciate it.

What are some of the memorable guests or programs you’ve done from the bus?

For us, the 50 Capitals Tour was a big deal. We’ve had numerous governors and state elected officials aboard the bus. In New Hampshire and Iowa, we had several presidential candidates aboard the bus. Trump was interviewed, I was part of that as well. Bill Clinton was aboard the bus back in the mid-90s. Those are some of the more notable folks that have been aboard the bus, including several authors you’ve probably heard of, like Bernie Sanders.

Why is it important to engage with educators and students?

Our mission is to provide information in a non-biased, non-partisan way so people can make an informed decision. For educators we want to make sure they know about the educational ways they can use C-SPAN in the classroom. For the students, they’ve seen C-SPAN, but when we have that 10-minute conversation about why we do what we do, it helps them understand why we do it and hopefully next time they turn to C-SPAN they take the time to watch it and use our online resources as a primary source for their school projects. We’re more than just networks, we have a radio station, we have a vast website.


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