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By: Amanda Honigfort, Special Projects and Programs Producer
We are working extremely hard here at HEC to make some major, important changes. It’s all part of our dedication to serving you and strenghening our arts, education and cultural communities thoughout the metropolitan region. We want to take a moment with you, our community, and have a conversation about who we are and where we are going.
We’ve been here, serving the St. Louis community, for longer than you may realize. When we were founded in 1981, we ran tele-courses through the University of Missouri – St. Louis and the St. Louis Community College. In the process, we helped St. Louisans earn more than 50,000 hours of college credit. We also ran an over the air GED program.
“We’re grounded in community service,” says Dennis Riggs, the president of HEC. Shortly after Riggs took the helm in 2002, we began expanding our offerings. “2002 is when we moved from simply being a broadcaster of programs to becoming a leading producer of programming and really started showing St. Louisans and the world the best of St. Louis.”
An early example is the 200th anniversary of the Lewis & Clark exhibition. The Missouri History Museum put together the national touring exhibit about the expedition, and HEC produced a behind the scenes documentary on the making of the exhibit.
“Teachers would see it on air and were calling to say ‘Could we use this before I take my students to the History Museum to see the exhibit, or after I take my students to the museum, or I can’t afford to take my students to the museum can we use your documentary in place of going to the exhibit and encourage them to go see the exhibit with their parents?’,” says Riggs. Of course we were happy to be that resource.
From there, we began creating a program (then called HEC Live!) to connect students directly with experts in the field. To date we’ve done over 200 Live! programs, and are continuing this programming as our flagship programming on Educate.Today. (More on the role of Educate.Today later.)
The Lewis and Clark exhibit also began our commitment to use our programming platforms to tell the important stories that often no one else is telling, and we produced our first big documentaries shortly thereafter. Our commitment to long form, in-depth documentary story telling continues today, and has found great success with audiences across the country and around the world.
“Our mantra for years has been to strengthen our schools, educate our workforce, and enhance the quality of life.” says Riggs. You can find at least part of that triad in everything we do.
Our Programing: Bringing the Best of St. Louis to St. Louis and the World
Perhaps you remember some of our first big documentaries, Something in the Water (about the electrifying classic rock scene in St. Louis in the late 1960s and 70s), Mission to Educate (about the history and importance of the Catholic Education system) or A River Runs Through It (about the impact of the River Des Peres). You may have also seen our Saint Louis Art Fair documentary last year.
This year, we’re excited to be releasing a new slate of fascinating documentaries for you to keep an eye out for., such as our recently premiered The Best Of Us, which tells the incredible story of the first 100 years of the Muny – more developments for The Best Of Us are to come and you can read about it at www.thebestofusfilm.com.
True Gaelic tells the story of an archeological dig Saint Louis University is conducting that is set to change our understanding of Irish history. Another, A New Leaf, tells the story of the Botanical Garden, one of the finest botanical showplaces in the world, and the story behind their newly refurbished and reopened museum. We’ll also be releasing a brand new Saint Louis Art Fair documentary focusing on the fair’s 25th anniversary and the incredible impact of the Saint Louis Art Fair on our entire community.
In addition to our documentaries, we’re continuing to bring the best of St. Louis to our community and the wider world with our in-depth, quality segments; telling stories you often won’t hear anywhere else – or at least not with the space, time, and thought that we give them.
You can dive into what’s new in the city with Happening Now (previously Scope), find out more about the most recent developments in science, technology, and our booming startup scene with our Science and Technology coverage (previously Innovations) and learn about the people who are making a difference in our community, as well as the latest in education, arts, culture, and more.
Through our collaborations with organizations like the Economic Development Council, World Trade Center St. Louis, Bi-State Development, Arch Grants, and more we’re bringing news, initiatives, and programs from governmental and large-impact nonprofits that have a direct impact on our life in St. Louis, directly to you. You can find those programs in the “Community” section of our website.
We’re also giving the microphone to community leaders and asking them to speak directly to you in our “Open Mic” series in the magazine and through our A Conversation With programs.
With “Open Mic” you hear directly from community leaders about how they achieved their position, what their organization does, and what their plans are for the future. Look for “Open Mic” articles from the new executive director of the Saint Louis Art Fair and from the World Trade Center in the coming months.
When you tune into A Conversation With, you know you’re going to get an in-depth look at who these leaders are as people and as community leaders, as well as what is coming for their organizations. We really dive in and let you get to know people like Emily Lohse-Busch, the executive director of Arch Grants, Felicia Shaw, the executive director of the Regional Arts Council, or in our newest release, Tom Ridgely, the new executive producer of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis.
We also help you get to know the authors – both local and national – who come to town through our numerous author interviews, in partnership with Maryville University, Left Banks Books, and the Saint Louis County Library.
Meeting You Where You Are – Any Device, Anytime, Any Medium
We’re always experimenting with new technology, striving to be present for you in ways television has never been before – as such, we aren’t just television anymore.
We’re covering and broadcasting important community events, and we’re there at events like TEDxGatewayArch, the Saint Louis Art Fair, documentary premieres, or the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership Annual Luncheon. Come visit our booth at the Saint Louis Art Fair in September – we’d love to meet you, and we enjoy being in the community with you.
In addition to our segments, we produce full length documentaries, this print publication, numerous blogs, and news and content sent through social media. We’re dipping into audio and podcasts soon, and we’re looking at where else we should be to use new technology to illustrate and illuminate information important to you and our community.
Our online events calendar gives you a list of events and exhibits in St. Louis to attend and, through our new website, we’re on whatever device you prefer, whenever you want us.
We’re always happy to hear your feedback on how we can best serve you and the wider St. Louis community.
Because of our goal to be wherever you need us, in whatever format fits, we’ve dropped the TV from our name, as well as the longer Higher Education Channel. We are so much more than TV, and we’re happy to greet you simply as HEC now.
“One thing we’ve tried to be for St. Louis is solutions- based,” says Riggs. “We’ve always tried to say – ‘Ok, something bad happened. Where’s the solution and how can we help the community pull together and find a right for this wrong.’”
It’s what we did when we got involved with the Saint Louis University Mini-Law School, it’s what we did with our education programming, and it’s something we have really tried to focus on with all our segments.
We are continuing to focus on solutions for our region when we roll out our #SolutionsFromSTL program. We are laying the groundwork to tackle some important issues facing our region from a solutions and action perspective – looking at what each of us can do to build our community up and solve those issues.
Educate.Today is another of our solutions-based approaches to education. Through Educate.Today, we provide quality educational videos that keep students engaged and interested in learning, along with lesson plans and professional development for the teachers and parents guiding children through those lessons. It’s a video resource where parents can feel comfortable letting kids explore because everything there is of the utmost quality – in production values and in content.
A New Look For HEC
As we continue to improve our web presence, all our content geared for teachers, students, and life-long learners now lives on its own website at www.educate. today. This innovative new site combines leading experts and technology into hundreds of standard-based videos and interactive learning programs to be used in classrooms, small groups, and individualized learning settings.
HEC’s main website has gotten a facelift as well. At the new www.hecmedia.org, you can read, listen, and stream all the content you know and love, including all of our documentaries.
At www.hecmedia.org you won’t just find a better looking, easier to use, organized layout. Our shows you once knew as State of the Arts, Innovations, Behind
the Minds, and others are simply “Arts,” “Science and Technology,” and “Education” genres respectively. This will make it easier to find the best content for you (with the most recent content at the top of the genre page), whether you’re looking for an article or video, it will all be on one page.
In short, we’ve been part of the St. Louis community since 1981, and we’re thrilled that you are part of our HEC community. Please, let us know how we can better engage with you and where you want to engage with us. What do you want to see from your regional community broadcaster – be it print, film or audio? We’re always listening. After all, it takes a village to make the village even better. It’s our honor and privilege to help lead this effort to success for St. Louis.