C-SPAN features Macon stories

Amanda Barrentine

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C-SPAN, in partnership with Cox Communications, announced at a news conference yesterday that Macon is its latest stop on the 2014 Cities Tour. Macon is one of 24 cities chosen for the tour, and will be featured for its rich history and literary heritage.

“The purpose of the Cities Tour is to make small cities accessible to the rest of America,” said C-SPAN producer and representative Ashley Hill. “We try to teach the people in these cities something they might have forgotten about their own home, or something they didn’t know about their own home.”

The 2014 Cities Tour features such cities as Salem, Oregon; Chattanooga, Tennessee and Tallahassee, Florida. The videographers travel in specially outfitted Local Content Vehicles (LCVs), which include cameras, laptops, lights and everything that the reporters need in order to tell the local stories.

“One of the reasons we’re in Macon is because of our partnership with Cox Communications. We look for cities that have a rich history. We’re already telling the music history here,” said Hill. “Music has always been a sign of the times and always been able to weave itself into the tapestry of American life to tell the story of the people, and so that in itself in Macon is huge. We also look for cities that have a great literary story as well, so Macon had a lot to offer in both of those realms.”

The stories C-SPA N plans to cover include the Museum of Aviation’s efforts to restore an F-100 combat plane used in Vietnam, the area’s earliest settlers at the Ocmulgee National Monument, and the history of the Hay House.

Because of the Hay House’s history, Hay House Director Jonathan Poston calls it “Macon’s House.”

“The Hay House, we think, is a fitting place to begin this tour, because it has seen a majority of the history of Macon’s events while it has stood here on Georgia Avenue,” said Poston. The house was built between 1855 and 1860 by William Johnston and his wife Anne Tracy Johnston, with some of the more advanced technology and architecture of the day. It passed to the Hay family in 1926, who lived in there until the 1960s, when it was then given to The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.”

“We are fiercely proud of our history and our heritage,” said Mayor Robert Reichert. “And we are very anxious to show you more about Macon. Not just its past, but also its present and most importantly, its future.”

Macon, in addition to being featured on the Cities Tour, has also recently been selected for the Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative. “I think it’s going to be a big boost for us,” said Reichert. “I think a lot of people will learn a lot more about Macon.”

Cox, C-SPAN’s partner on the tour, was one of the early investors in C-SPAN. “It’s my understanding that that’s why they chose us,” said executive field director of Middle Georgia Market, Lynn Murphey. “We have a long history, we’ve been bringing them to Middle Georgia with the C-SPAN Bus Tours.” In addition to visiting local historical sites, C-SPAN will also look into the literary heritage of Macon, including interviewing one of Mercer’s own: Dr. Sarah Gardner, who wrote the book “Blood and Irony: Southern White Women’s Narrative of the Civil War, 1861-1937.” Other authors on the list include Loretta Hannon, author of “The Cracker Queen: A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life.”

“We’ve come a long way, baby, as they say,” said Reichert. “This is about the city of Macon and how excited we are to have C-SPAN, such a prestigious organization come to Macon and to include Macon in its Cities Tour.” Reichert is a graduate of the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer and has totalled approximately two decades of public service in Macon.

The tour will also include several talks at local schools, including Mercer University. Hill will be speaking about jobs in journalism, covering politics and working in television at 5:30 p.m. in the Center for Collaborative Journalism on Wednesday.

The Macon Cities Tour will be aired on Feb. 15 and 16 on C-SPAN2 (Book TV) and C-SPAN 3 (American History T V).

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