Check out & Good Company: A new local TV show starting conversations in Fort Wayne

First, I have a few confessions to make. I do not believe everything happens for a reason. I also find it hard to believe that in the midst of every difficulty lies opportunity. And I didn’t become a journalist because I wanted to write the great American novel, nor because I wanted to be the next Woodward or Bernstein. (I actually worked for Bernstein while in graduate school, and I can say he is a rather difficult employer.)

For three-and-half years, I served as the Editor-in-Chief of Fort Wayne magazine. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, I was initially furloughed and then laid off in mid-June 2020. 

When I was first furloughed, I sat on the floor of my furniture-less apartment. I only moved to Fort Wayne full-time in November 2019, specifically for my position with the magazine. So now that I was unemployed, I was asking myself those gut-wrenching questions: What's next? What am I really qualified to do? And what do I really want to do?

Along with my previous confessions, truth be told, the last thing I wanted to do was write another article. After 25+ years as an editor/reporter, writing mostly for newspapers and magazines, I did not want to have to write another 750-word story.

I have always admired the interviewing skills and techniques of Charlie Rose, James Lipton, and Terry Gross. So, I began to work on what I call a personal-passion project (something I would like to do, but isn’t likely to afford me to earn a living).

I worked with the team at Access Fort Wayne, the community access cable channel, to create a  content-driven program that explores national issues through a local lens.

I chose to work with Access Fort Wayne because I am a diehard devotee to public libraries. I liked that the studio located in the downtown branch of the ACPL offers anyone who is interested the ability to create, produce, and air local programs. 

And since this was a passion project, and my personal monies were rather limited, but my time and energy were available in abundance, I got down to work.

Javier Mondragon, Ephraim Smiley, and Réna Bradley are guests on & GOOD COMPANY.

I paid to have the show’s opening graphics done by a professional because I always try to offer the highest-quality content that I can afford--regardless of limited funds and resources.

I focused on my skills as a conversationalist to create an intimate atmosphere for one-on-one conversations and roundtable discussions, & GOOD COMPANY is based on something we all know to be true: The best dinner parties aren’t really about the food, but rather the diverse group of people seated around the table, engaging in lively discussions.

& GOOD COMPANY allows for meaningful and important conversations to happen and offers a different type of news experience.

Ben Clemmer of WBOI is a guest on & GOOD COMPANY.

The people I invite to have a seat at the table are those who I really would like to have dinner with. I like to think the conversations we capture are those we would have if we were breaking bread … sans food. (I thought it was better to ensure no one has to worry about talking with food in their mouths or getting something stuck between their teeth for all to see.)

The conversations are not scripted, and the guests are not told the topics and/or provided any questions or talking points prior to sitting down at the table. I believe audio and video are the best mediums for capturing smart conversations as they happen. By asking, listening, and learning, we discover what we know and (just as important) what we don’t know.

& GOOD COMPANY launched in August 2020, and the guests are members of the Northeast Indiana community from a wide range of fields, including: Science, politics, art, business, sports, academic, public service, technology, humanities, and healthcare.

To date, close to 50 guests have enjoyed a seat at the table, including: President/CEO of the Boys & Girls Club Joe Jordan and Iric Headley, Director of Fort Wayne United; President of Huntington University Dr. Sherilyn Emberton; local artist Bryan Ballinger; Executive Director of Gigi’s Playhouse Mandy Drakeford; Volunteer extraordinaire Lynne Gilmore; Principal of MKM Design Zach Benedict; Community Development Manager for Bridge of Grace Compassionate Ministries Rena Bradley; and Executive Director of Wellspring Melissa Rinehart.

Heather Presley-Cowen joins Sara Fiedelholtz on & GOOD COMPANY.

And at the end of each & GOOD COMPANY show, I ask all guests the same 12 questions that were popularized by novelist Marcel Proust in a Victorian parlor game. Here are some of my favorite answers to date:

What is your favorite word?

“Perhaps,” said Brad Little, CEO/President of the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

“Come a little higher,” said Allen County Councilwoman Sheila Campbell-Cury.

What profession other than your own would you like to try?

“I would like to own a brick-and-mortar crafts store,” said City of Fort Wayne 6th District Councilwoman Sharon Tucker.

I would like to invite you to come enjoy a seat at the table for great conversation. & GOOD COMPANY airs on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ACCESS Fort Wayne (channel 55 on Comcast/channel 25 on Frontier cable) and on WELT (95.7 FM) on Wednesdays at 5 pm. It also airs as part of "WBOI Presents" weekly podcast series. The show is available on YouTube and on all podcast platforms.

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