By Scott Brindiar
There may still be hope for Homework Express returning to the airwaves. Unfortunately, it does not look like it will be anytime soon according to executive producer Bill Brophy.
It has been one year since the educational program ceased production, and a new distribution deal with WFMJ is only one small step in a long, expensive journey.
When the news broke in January that Youngstown State University’s educational program had ended, it was reported that new episodes would be produced and aired on WBCB: The Valley’s CW in the fall after forming a distribution deal with WFMJ.
Fall, however, came with no mention of the show’s return. Brophy said this is the result of a lack of funds that would make it possible to buy necessary technology.
“Although we have an agreement with WFMJ to distribute the show, we are having difficulty trying to find the funding,” Brophy said. “[Production] involves some new purchases, which are difficult.”
As of right now, the Homework Express does not have a way of getting their signal from the live show to the WFJM studios located downtown. Fred Owens, communications director and project director for Homework Express, said they are trying to find technology that would allow them to send the signal via the Internet.
“We are looking for new technology through the Internet to deliver the show downtown,” Owens said. “We are looking for a way to send and receive content over the Internet regularly.”
Brophy said that the technology to distribute the show exists, but is not monetarily attainable.
“The technology exists, if you have the money,” Brophy said. “Also, today, if you’re on broadcast television, you must have closed captioning. With a scripted show, that’s easy. Because we have students calling in, and we don’t know what they’re going to do, we need somebody in real time taking down what they hear. The system to do that and the people for that cost money. WFMJ won’t take the show without that.”
With no funding from the university, Homework Express is on its own to find sponsors, which is a difficult task for a show that seems to be out of sight and out of mind for most people.
Brophy and Owens said they both hope for the best for the program, as they believe it helps communication students and at-home viewers equally.
Throughout its original nine-year run, the show earned three local Emmy Award nominations. If the show returns, Kelly Stevens is expected to reprise her hosting role.
“I am not encouraged that we’re going to make it back on the air,” Brophy said. “I’m not optimistic, but I’m hopeful.”