Not many local TV marketing departments get the chance to create long-form content like a four-part documentary. But the team at New York’s WPIX welcomed the challenge. “I think if you went to most creative services shops in the country, you would find a lot of frustrated filmmakers who would be dying to do something like this,” said Heath Benfield, the series creator.
From the station’s archives, the WPIX creative services team has created a documentary project titled, Only in New York. This four-part, half-hour series will air Friday nights at 10:30 beginning March 8.
WPIX is Tribune’s CW affiliate in New York.
Only in New York chronicles some of the most controversial moments in New York City history, a subway shooting that ignited a racial firestorm, the deadly days of the crack epidemic, a pair of high-profile trials that exposed the hidden horrors of domestic abuse and a rising political star assassinated inside the city’s most hallowed halls.
All are retold with rare footage pulled from the WPIX archives and featuring new interviews with WPIX journalists, expert analysts and the headliners at the center of the stories.
The idea for the series came from Heath Benfield, WPIX’s senior creative producer.
“I think if you went to most creative services shops in the country, you would find a lot of frustrated filmmakers who would be dying to do something like this. I know that is the case for me. So it’s just been really a dream come true that I have had the opportunity to do that in the context of local TV news. It’s great to work on long form, such a rare opportunity.”
“Only in New York is Heath’s brainchild and the pitch intrigued me from the moment I heard it. It is a compelling extension of the WPIX brand and reaffirms why we are New York’s Very Own,” said David Hyman, WPIX’s VP of marketing and creative.
Benfield said he spent hours going through tapes and film in the station’s archive room looking for specific footage by date, and sometimes finding the unexpected.
“It’s been the most enjoyable part of this whole process discovering those lost hidden gems within our archive.”
Hyman said Benfield had never been to New York until he was hired at WPIX a couple years ago from Indianapolis.
“The depth of his curiosity about the city and its history is very surprising and exciting.”
So how did Benfield find the time to create a four-part documentary in addition to his normal duties in creative services?
“I don’t sleep,” he joked.
Hyman said he gave Benfield some time for the project because he wants his staff to be free to come up with ideas.
“Creatives want the opportunity to work on a bigger canvass and you have to be sort of stupid not to give it to them if they came to you with a wonderful idea.”
NOTE: WPIX has a Facebook page that shares archive stories and footage. There have been several recent Market Share columns about how some stations are digitizing archive footage and/or using archive footage as news segments or franchises:
WGAL Preserving News Footage From 1949-1979
Old TV News Footage Is New Content At WCIA
Hey Bozo, WGN’s Airing A 50-Year Old Kid’s Show
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