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Food Network spots are cooking up customers for Pittsburgh businesses

| Saturday, Nov. 2, 2002

The Food Network is serving appetizing Pittsburgh entrees. The rest of the country is getting a taste of what we have known for a long time. There are a lot of great restaurants and candy makers in southwestern Pennsylvania. Good beer, too. America will be salivating as it learns more about some of the region's treats.

Launched in 1993, the Food Network describes itself as the only 24-hour cable television network and Web site devoted exclusively to all things related to food, cooking and entertaining. Nielsen Media Research indicates it is in nearly 77 million subscriber households, adding almost 9 million since October 2001, according to the network. However, being in all those homes does not necessarily mean all those viewers are watching the Food Network.

Cable and satellite customers have many channel options, but most don't watch every channel all the time. The Food Network claims to have the right kind of viewers for advertisers, such as upscale adults with household incomes in excess of $75,000. The creme de la creme is getting an eyeful about Pittsburgh.

Some of the region's treasures that have been on the Food Network's "The Best Of" series and other programs include Sarris Candies, Betsy Ann Chocolates, Church Brew Works, Gandy Dancer Saloon and Oyster Bar, Hyeholde Restaurant, Old Europe restaurant, the Pittsburgh airport, Primanti Brothers and Tessaro's. Yummy.

Sarris Candies was featured on "Unwrapped," a program that shows how food and snacks are made. The Food Network spent about 10 hours there in June. It edited the tape into a 5-to-6-minute segment about Halloween novelty candy shaped like witches, pumpkins and other seasonal figures. It first aired Oct. 20 and has aired several times since.

"We knew it would be a good response, but we didn't know how good it would be," says Athena Simms, director of marketing for Sarris. "I could tell immediately that people were visiting our Web site, placing orders and requesting catalogs. There were about several hundred for each — and it is continuing. We had a lot of phone calls from people who wanted to buy the candy that was featured. We are seeing an impressive increase in all aspects of the business. There has been a big increase in foot traffic."

That includes several customers who drove one to two hours to experience the Canonsburg candy operation, Simms says. "We are pleasantly surprised. It is impressive."

Church Brew Works in Lawrenceville had been featured on another show. "Business increased at least 5 percent. For months, we had groups from West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio and Maryland say, 'We saw you on the Food Network,'" says Joseph Gordon, the channel's marketing coordinator. He is anticipating more customers after it is featured on the network's "Al Roker's Brew Pubs USA" at 9 p.m. Sunday.

"I think the feedback has been phenomenal," says Kelly Harrington, owner of Tessaro's. He says the Food Network helps him get a lot of out-of-town visitors, including a couple who drove to his restaurant from Charleston, W.Va.

People from all over the country told Barbara McKenna, co-owner of the Hyeholde, that they saw the segment on her restaurant. When her cousin from South Dakota called after seeing it, she says, "I was quite astounded."

"We look for great food cities across the United States. A lot of people do not realize how big Pittsburgh is," says Kathleen Finch, the Food Network's vice-president of programming.

Food Network researchers call convention and visitors bureaus, food writers and columnists and magazines in their search for interesting spots. They also hunt on the Internet to find "the hidden gems — unusual places with wonderful histories or stories. For every one featured, we speak to about 15. It is an honor to be profiled."

If you want the Food Network to discover your favorite restaurant, go to www.foodtv.com . "The Best of" site offers visitors the opportunity to email suggestions. Messages are read about once a week and then filed by location and subject.

"You would be amazed how often that works," Finch says. "Pittsburgh should be very proud of your restaurant community. It is a great one."

Some Pittsburgh area restaurants, candy makers and brewers are helping create a de facto national television presence on the Food Network. The exposure does not cost the region anything, and viewers are eating it up.

The Food Network might realize that this Pittsburgh sampler is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more restaurants and other food sources waiting to be discovered. When they finally are, they better be prepared for the new customers the Food Network will be serving up nationwide.

Broadcast Spots


And the winner is …

The broadcast and cable networks had a lot of egg on their faces about their inaccurate projections during the last presidential election. ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN and the Associated Press are trying to fix the problem, according to Broadcasting & Cable magazine. Their jointly owned venture, the antiquated Voter News Service, is going through a top-to-bottom overhaul. Will some cynical viewers and politicians question how much of the system is fixed Tuesday night• Count on it.

Poll watchers

You can watch several political annalysts examine and discuss the polling results on "Decision 2002: The Pennsylvania General Election" at 8 p.m. Tuesday on cable channel PCNC. John McIntire, host of "Night Talk," will have a special election edition at 9 p.m. The "10 O'Clock News" will expand to one hour, and the "Bill Cowher News Conference" will air at 7 p.m.

Work in progress

WTAE-TV is one of 10 TV stations working with the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation and the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania to experiment with their on-air and online coverage of the 2002 political campaigns and elections, according to tvspy.com. Participating stations are receiving research resources and other tools to help cover the election. To see how it is being implemented, visit the WTAE Web page at www.thepittsburghchannel.com/politics.

Wall-to-wall paneling

KQV-AM (1410) will have a panel of political experts, pre-empting syndicated talk host Bruce Williams, to enhance the news station's complete election coverage starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

You can hear Mayor Erez Kreizler, from Misgav, Israel, talk about the Middle East. He will be on the Pittsburgh Global Press Conference at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Sunday on KQV.

Jazzing up coverage

WDUQ-FM (90.5) will pre-empt its jazz programming to provide complete local, state and national election coverage from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m Tuesday.

Smog city

You can learn how Donora, a mid-Mon Valley steel town, should have earned that dubious distinction in 1948. "Donora Smog" is a segment on "OnQ Magazine" about the deadly air pollution that killed 20 and harmed thousands of other victims. It will air at 7:30 and 11:30 p.m. Monday and 12:30 p.m. Tuesday on WQED-TV.

Sustainable life

Court Gould, director of "Sustainable Pittsburgh," will talk about how the region can have a long-term, sustained quality of life for all citizens on "Talking Pittsburgh" at 6 a.m. Sunday on PCNC-TV. Part of his solution is to fix the "regional sewer dilemma" that he says causes more than 300 sewer "outflow" discharges directly into our rivers.

Kevin Amos also will be on "Talking Pittsburgh." The Citiparks program coordinator will talk about how you could donate new and used children's bikes, spare bike parts and helmets for the "Recycle-a-Cycle" program.

What's in a name?

WRRK-FM (96.9) has not changed its morning news anchor, even though it might sound that way to casual listeners. Amy Bergstrom still is the one. The only change was to her married name — Crago.

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