KALAMAZOO, MI — A TV show that is highlighting 13 Midwestern cities in its first season will cast a spotlight on Kalamazoo across the Midwest this Sunday, April 17.
The destination travel show, John McGivern’s Main Streets, is hosted by the Emmy-award winning McGivern, who made an appearance at Bell’s Eccentric Café on Tuesday, April 12, alongside producer Lori Maurer, for an exclusive premiere showing of the forthcoming episode.
The half-hour episode will be aired locally at 10:30 a.m. April 17 on channel CW7 in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, and air across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.
Sunday’s episode focuses exclusively on Kalamazoo and much of what makes the city unique.
From stories about the history of Upjohn, Gibson and Checkered Cab, to businesses like Layla’s Cool Pops run by teenager Layla Wallace, who has a mission of “eliminating homelessness one sweet at a time,” to inside looks at the stories behind Twine Urban Winery, the Gilmore Car Museum and Bell’s Brewery, McGivern and his production team set out to “capture the spirit of Kalamazoo,” Maurer said.
“This town has a spirit, it has a heart and we found that,” McGivern said to a room filled with many of the individuals featured in the episode. “We have been to communities that don’t, and we’ve spent four-and-a half, five days there and then leave that and say to each other, ‘did you get that (feeling)?’
“We got this city. We get it.”
McGivern and Maurer were in Kalamazoo for four days in late July and early August, at which point they captured 14 hours of footage, while spending a couple hours at each of the attractions and businesses that were featured.
While it isn’t easy to whittle down that much footage to find the highlights, Maurer said afterward: “you can’t script storytelling and you have to let people tell their stories and listen to all of it and then pull out what you think is the most interesting.”
Naturally, Maurer said, the crew captured way more worthy footage than they could possibly feature.
Some of what did make the cut, includes a trip to Wenke Greenhouses that educates viewers that not only is Kalamazoo the bedding plant capital of the world but that greenhouses in the area share a non-competitive, collaborative spirit. As well, what many might not know about Kalamazoo is that the Moped Army, a national moped organization with nearly 600 members, actually began in Kalamazoo in 1997.
Related: Kalamazoo Promise featured in Time magazine list of ‘Reasons to celebrate America’
“We look for things that represent the spirit of the community,” Maurer said. “The Kalamazoo Promise, while not the most visual is so important to Kalamazoo and so many other viewers all over the Midwest are going to say, ‘you’re kidding me, we should do that.’
“And that pedestrian mall, people just need to discover it, it’s just so special.”
Other locations featured in the episode include the Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Museum, TnT Lil Brothers BBQ, Henderson Castle, the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, Confections with Convictions and the Michigan News Agency. And, of course, Pfizer gets a shoutout for its work developing the COVID-19 vaccine.
McGivern and Maurer selected 13 Midwestern cities to highlight during the show’s first season, focusing on one city per episode. Each episode offers up a bit of history on the community, while also showcasing a diverse selection of area businesses and attractions which help define the city and what makes it unique.
In addition to Kalamazoo, McGivern makes a stop in South Haven (view that episode here) as well as in various communities throughout Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. McGivern told those in attendance at the premiere that the show is preparing to begin shooting for a second season this May and will be making return trips to Michigan to film episodes in Escanaba and Holland for season two.
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