published Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

C-SPAN filming feature on Chattanooga's history

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    Terry Davis, front right, and Jucinta Rome, front left, exit C-SPAN's Campaign 2008 Bus during the network's stop at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale in this file photograph.
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Reporters with national cable network C-SPAN are roaming the streets of Chattanooga through Thursday to document the city's personality.

The Scenic City will share center stage with dozens of other small- to mid-size cities in 2014 as part of a special series.

In lieu of C-SPAN's typical coverage of Capitol Hill politics, a three-person squad of roaming reporters will focus on Chattanooga's history and literary life through interviews with local historians, authors and civic leaders. The polished footage will debut during C-SPAN's special Chattanooga weekend Jan. 18-19.

The crew met with Mayors Andy Berke and Jim Coppinger at the Chattanooga History Center, as well as the center's executive director Daryl Black, to kick things off Monday morning.

"We have such a great, rich history," Black said. "To be able to talk to a national audience about the depth of this place's history is just going to be incredible."

Keep your eyes peeled: C-SPAN's finest storytellers will be cruising through town in LCVs, or Local Content Vehicles, to capture their journey. The public affairs network folks will drive red, white and blue Ford Transit Connects -- box-shaped vans each equipped with one reporter, video camera and computer -- to chronicle Chattanooga.

On Sunday, Black showed off the Tennessee Valley Authority's facilities at Chickamauga Dam, as well as the region it serves, to the film crew. Today, he will escort them to nearby Cherokee history sites.

By the time their work is done, they'll have also covered the Chickamauga Battlefield and the industrial legacy of Bluff Furnace.

The final products will be shown across C-SPAN's family of networks, as well as Chattanooga's local cable providers. Viewers can expect the program to run on BookTV and American History TV, Comcast channels 104 and 105, respectively.

"No other channel is making this kind of extensive effort to tell the literary stories and history of America's small- and mid-size cities, complementing our coverage of Washington's political process," C-SPAN co-CEO Susan Swain said in a news release.

Chattanoogans will be able to view the coverage long after the cameras turn off and the credits roll. In addition to an extensive social media campaign, video from each city will be archived in a searchable format through C-SPAN's online video library.

Knoxville is the only other Tennessee city to be featured in the series so far, and it appeared during the program's inaugural year in October 2011. The reporters stopped by locations such as the University of Tennessee's main campus and the Oak Ridge National Laboratories.

The three-reporter crew covering Chattanooga had just come from Dayton, Ohio, and will arrive in Macon, Ga., after the holidays. The reporting schedule may be demanding to cover dozens of cities each year, but the Black says it's worth the voyage for history's sake.

"The exposure we're going to get out of this is going to be fantastic," Black said.

Contact staff writer Jeff LaFave at jlafave@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

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