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Vail’s Plum TV moves studios

Charlie Owen
Vail CO, Colorado

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado ” It’s a cool, sunny morning in Vail ” a good day to film outside. Chris King and Ethan Denby work the cameras on the deck of the new Plum TV studio just above the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum which overlooks Bridge Street and the north-facing slopes of Vail Mountain.

The two Plum TV interns focus and adjust camera angles while filming the station’s part-time host and sales associate, Tim Stenovec, and his guest, Jamie Gunion, the marketing director for Vail Recreation District.

Gunion talks to the camera about the different activities available to families visiting Vail this week ” golf, mountain biking and live music at Ford Park. The station is broadcast on cable channel 16 and available in most local hotel rooms.

“When people come here it’s almost like they’re in an alternate universe,” said Jason Katzman, general manager of Plum TV. “They might be coming from Dallas, Manhattan, you know, wherever, where your life is very much regimented through this Monday-through-Friday schedule.

Once you come to Vail, it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, you just want to turn on the TV and you’re on vacation, that’s all that matters.”

That’s exactly why Plum TV employees have tried hard to make the channel relevant to locals and out-of-towners alike. They showcase what’s coming up daily for those not in the loop and shoot short specials and documentaries about events more meaningful to those who live here.

The Vail Rec District has a partnership with Plum TV that allows Gunion the chance to come on the morning show each week and promote the town’s ever-changing event schedule.

“(The viewers) can see something new every week,” Gunion said. It’s a good resource for the community to figure out what’s going on in the town of Vail, she said.

New and improved

Still, it’s hard to imagine the little local station that’s only been on air for four years as a contender for an Emmy Award. Regardless, the station won the coveted award for Best Commercial Spot for an American Express ad in 2007 and their Aspen market is nominated for Best Topical Documentary and Best Special Events Coverage in 2008.

Plum actually works out of eight markets in America, four in the West (including Vail and Aspen) and four on the East Coast, which is where the idea for the channel actually started.

Recently Plum TV has undergone some big changes in Vail that will allow the channel to grow its viewership and production quality, Katzman said. The new, larger studio above the Ski Museum (with separate offices near Checkpoint Charlie) has put them in the heart of the town and away from their old West Vail Plaza space on the Frontage Road. The chance to be able to shoot in front of the iconic clock tower and Covered Bridge every day was too good of an opportunity to pass up, Katzman said.

The relaunch and redesign of Plum’s Web site is also a point of pride for Katzman. A large portion of Plum’s audience comes from outside of its immediate Vail footprint ” mostly people who have moved away from the town but still want to know what’s going on or those who frequently visit Vail but don’t live here, Katzman said.

Their newer, easier-to-navigate Web site was designed with that in mind and offers more fresh content including videos and Vail-centric information like golf tips and local restaurant listings.

Celebrating the community, people, events, personalities, environment and culture of Vail is what Plum TV is all about, Katzman said.

He wants anyone who flips to Plum to get all the information they need for any event in Vail, and to keep them entertained while watching.

“Our goal is to be interesting enough that locals want to watch us and relevant enough so that a visitor can latch on to us as well,” Katzman said.

That approach seems to be working, at least for Wynne Mayall.

Mayall is visiting Vail from Hong Kong with her family for two months. She watches Plum TV for weather updates and to figure out which local events she wants to take her family to.

“It’s very enjoyable. You find out information about the stores and specials that are going on and then even things about restaurants. I quite like it,” Mayall said.

High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.


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