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Through the Wire

7/28/2005 8:00 PM Eastern

C-SPAN Makes a Marketing Vehicle

Say you're C-SPAN and you really wanted to promote one of your programs but, being C-SPAN, you didn't have millions to pay for fancy marketing campaigns and ads and stuff. What do you do?

Send one of your buses to the conversion shop and hit the road, of course.

C-SPAN has two yellow school buses that have gone to affiliate events around the country for years, hosting teachers, students and community leaders and racking up public-affairs awards.

After it emerges from a rebuild this September, one of those buses will be henceforth known as — drumroll, please — the BookTV Bus. Instead of doing community affairs, this will be a consumer-marketing proposition, going to book fairs and festivals and libraries, according to vice president Peter Kiley, who gave us the tip last week.

“Over the summer, we are gutting one of the yellow buses and rebuilding the vehicle with a completely new look and purpose,” he said in an e-mail. “The latest cable technology will be featured on board, a new studio will be put in place, and a stylish new 'wrap' design will decorate the exterior.”

“BookTV” is C-SPAN-2's weekend-long programming block about nonfiction books, “the only place on television for people who love to read nonfiction to see the authors they love and respect,” Kiley said. “It is the only place on TV regularly doing any book programming.”

Save us an easy chair with a cupholder and a bright lamp.

Forget Beverly Hills, Take the Bills Instead

Nial Stimson, marketing director for a Southern California hospital, describes himself as “not much of a gambler,” but yet he was attracted when he received a flier advertising a chance to buy a raffle ticket — at $180 a pop, mind you — for a chance to win the prize of a $1.5 million Beverly Hills home.

The ticket sale was a fund-raiser for The More Than Shelter Fund, which supports programs for low-income families, children, seniors and homeless veterans. The charity related the tale of Stimson's win, but didn't indicate whether the lucky man conferred with his wife, Disney/ESPN executive Paula Stimson, before buying the ticket. He even convinced some friends to buy in but warned them he felt he was going to win.

He was right.

The charity said out of a ticket pool of 22,000 entries, Stimson's ticket was pulled. According to the charity, Stimson reported he had to call his wife three times before the cable executive believed his news.

The couple had the option to take the home, located near iconic Rodeo Drive, or opt for $1 million in cash. Given the tax burden of an added $1.5 million in income, plus the cost of property taxes and upkeep, the couple has opted for the cash, according to the charity.

The family, which includes an 8-month-old, Kyra, has been living in an apartment and the cash should give them an edge in the tough California home market.

Streets of Philly Turn Mean for Robbed Duo

It seems to happen at many a big cable show in a big city: bad guys come out of nowhere to spoil the fun. It happened to two Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing Summit attendees last Sunday (July 24). They were robbed at gunpoint as they strolled down a street in one of Philadelphia's finer Center City neighborhoods.

Twenty-five-year industry veteran Davida Shear, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania in the city, said she had dinner with another friend attending the conference that evening and on the way home wanted to check out a building she had lived in years ago. As they strolled down DeLancey Place, between 20th and 21st streets — an area well known for its architecture and multimillion-dollar single family homes — “a guy came out of nowhere with a pretty serious gun pointed at us,” Shear said.

Shear, senior VP at programming startup Blue Highways TV, and her friend weren't injured, but they handed over cash and credit cards. Shear and her friend called the Philadelphia police, who drove them around looking for the suspect, to no avail. They also went to the police station to look through mug shots.

Shear, who has also worked at The International Channel and Home Box Office, told her harrowing tale to industry colleagues the next day. She said the incident shook her up but wouldn't let it stop her from attending conventions in big cities. “I'm looking forward to getting back on the blue highways,” she said.

Officials said they would keep the incident in mind when considering future locales for the CTAM Summit, which will be held next year in Boston. “We certainly feel terrible about what happened,” CTAM senior VP of communications Anne Cowan said.

March