Arts & Culture

Want to be on TV? This show is filming in SLO County now for an upcoming special

You might have spotted some C-SPAN camera crews around San Luis Obispo County over the past few days — and soon you’ll see some of the area’s historic locations on national TV.

If you’re in the right place at the right time, you might even find yourself in a background shot or two.

C-SPAN has been in the area over the past five days filming a comprehensive overview of the city’s history and non-fiction literary life for a two-day series as part of the station’s “Cities Tour” program.

Mark Farkas, the show’s executive producer, said about 12 to 18 episodes featuring SLO and the region will air for two consecutive days on April 6-7. The segments are about five to 20 minutes each.

The shows will be on American History TV (C-SPAN3, Spectrum channel 92), and the literary programming will air on Book TV (C-SPAN2, Spectrum channel 91).

The crews will be filming Thursday, starting about 8:30 a.m. at Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa and then about 9 a.m. at the historic Jack House and Gardens.

“One thing we’ve learned is that people in San Luis Obispo have a passion for the history of this area, and SLO has interwoven, regional stories that really bring together a unique place,” Farkas said. “We think that a national audience will be very interested in the history here.”

The show will feature the stories of the mission, Railroad Square and Point SLO Lighthouse.

Jim Gregory, who wrote “San Luis Obispo County Outlaws: Desperados, Vigilantes and Bootleggers,” and Kathleen Cairns, whose work includes “At Home in the World: California Women and the Creation of Modern Environmentalism,” also have been interviewed.

C-SPAN already has gathered information about the public lynchings that took place in Mission Plaza, studied the connection between the railroad history and population growth in the county once the lines connected Los Angeles to the Bay Area, and toured a local favorite, Coalesce Bookstore in Morro Bay.

“Our crew has discovered that San Luis Obispo is a really special place, and we’ve aired programs on 180 communities across the U.S.,” Farkas said. “It’s naturally beautiful here. SLO has a truly unique vibe.”

Farkas said the program’s kickoff event held earlier this week at the History Center of San Luis Obispo County was one of the best attended that C-SPAN has had in the numerous communities it has visited, including Bakersfield, Memphis, Pasadena, New Orleans and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The idea behind the “Cities Tour” is to give viewers the feeling of being in a place, as if they were here, with natural sounds and drives through the city shot with GoPro cameras, in addition to interviews with local leaders such as SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon and researchers.

“We’ve been to a lot of cities in the U.S., and this is one many of us on the production team have commented we’d like to come back to,” Farkas said.

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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.