CMA Event Recap: Building A Neighborhood with the Fred Rogers Company

On Tuesday, October 16th, the Fred Rogers Company paid a special visit with CMA to discuss where they have been, where they are now, and where they’re going next. Ellen Doherty, Executive in charge of production, and Chris Loggins, producer, lead the presentation. Also in attendance was Paul Siefken, VP of Broadcast and Development. They came looking for new talent to work with, and they know the CMA is an excellent place to look. As Ellen put it, “The entire reason we came Today from Pittsburgh to New York is to meet you guys!”

Fred Rogers

The slogan for Fred Rogers Company is “The Legacy Lives On.” Fred Rogers made a huge impact on children’s television, and if you didn’t know, was an amazing human being. Do you want 15 reasons he was the best neighbor ever? How about 35?

One of his most powerful messages is what he ended every show with:

i-lik-eyou

And even more powerful is his message on love:

mister-rogers-love

His messages were so powerful that there’s even an online community called “The Church of Rogers” where people help each other internalize his positive outlook.

Those are big shoes to fill, and the Fred Rogers Company is busy ensuring the same quality of children’s media in their work today.

Fred Rogers Company: An Overview

FRC Productions.jpg

FRC has some impressive stats.

Recently, in July and August of this year, FRC was ranked:

#1 with Kids 2-5 rating

#1 with Young Mothers

#1 in Streaming Video – 45m

In July, all TFRC programs reached 8.9 million children through broadcast and streamed 87 million videos through PBS mobile and Web streaming platforms.

EVENT EXCLUSIVE: Sneak peak at OddTube.

oddtube

OddTube is a new streaming mini series featuring Agent Olympia in 20 short videos that encourage interaction and submissions from the viewer. The first video  OddTube kicks off on November 10 and runs through April 20.

EVENT EXCLUSIVE: Sneak peak at the next FRC production. (Sorry, can’t say more than that!)

How to Pitch to FRC

As previously mentioned, a big reason why Chris and Ellen came to visit us in NYC is to let us know what they are looking for. They don’t want to be too specific, because they do not want to inhibit creativity. What they want is something huge:

We’re looking for a new way to educate and entertain kids.

They keep things open. It can be any format on any platform, but naturally there are some constraints:

  • It must fit with FRC’s mission: Model an enthusiasm for learning
  • The audience should fall between ages 2 and 11.
  • It must feature kids.

What they’re NOT looking for is “The Next ___.” It may be a convenient pitching trick, but it is vastly overused. They don’t want to hear about “The Next Neighborhood,” or “The Next Dora,” they want to hear about what makes your project unique.

(For more tips on pitching, check out this podcast)

The pitch process is simple.

  1. Email pitches@fredrogers.org a general inquiry to pitch, and you will receive a generic email with a submission agreement.
  2. Fill out and sign the agreement, and attach that along with your pitch materials in your reply.
  3. Wait 4-6 weeks for a reply. The acquisitions department is small at FRC, and it takes time to be thorough.

Become a writer for FRC!

The FRC is also looking for new writers! The process here is even easier.

  1. Send a CV and sample script to writers@fredrogers.org.

And then, there’s the Swag Show

swag1

A lot of the CMA events include awesome prizes. At our mixers, there’s always some kind of raffle that includes prizes ranging from broadway tickets to free membership. Many of our other events, like our recent Blues Clues event, include free Swag!

This event included a Year with Fred Rogers calendar, a Fred Rogers mug, a plush Daniel Tiger and Katerina Kittycat, and a Mystery Swag Bag. Paul threw them out to whomever could answer crazy trivia questions about Chris and Ellen. Did you know that Chris collects cartoon character glasses? Or that Ellen has met Doc Brown?

giphy

And while FRC may have brought the swag gifts, the CMA members totally brought the swag.

swagga

Final Thoughts

When you speak with these people, you get the sense that they not only continue on Mr. Rogers’ work in their productions, but they themselves embody the messages of Fred Rogers. I noticed a positive aura around them the moment they stepped into the building.

For example, Ellen said this when discussing the pitch process:

“We’re not looking for the next Fred Rogers, because the real Fred Rogers was an innovator. We’re looking for the next innovator of children’s media. Don’t be just like Fred Rogers, be just like you.”

How Fred Rogers of you, Ellen!

Another example. After the main event, when we popped open some classy adult grape-juice bottles and munched on appetizers, I got a chance to talk with Chris about Pittsburg. He spoke with such passion about his community, that it had the rest of the circle thinking, “Wow, why are we in New York right now?”

The event leaves you thinking that you don’t want to pitch to the Fred Rogers Company because you have a show you want on the air. You want to pitch to them because these people are incredible, and so is the work they are doing. And you want to be a part of that.

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