Last week, I wandered the halls of ZoomerMedia, exploring the large communications complex. Its founder, Moses Znaimer, is a well-known broadcasting pioneer. Years back, he founded CityTV, transforming TV coverage from static, behind-a-desk reporting to something far more dynamic, covering events live “as they happened”.
Under his tenure, CityTV, evolved its unique style, personality, and savvy programming. The station’s cameramen seem to be everywhere, showing Toronto to viewers in such an upclose and personal way, the cameras became instrumental in changing Toronto from a “large small town” into to a thriving cosmopolitan centre.
Today, Moses Znaimer continues to put his particular stamp on everything in media, all of it impacting business, culture, and the arts. Energized and curious, he persists in exploring and exploiting the boundaries of new media.
This is why ZoomerMedia isn’t just about TV shows. It involves everything from radio, to magazine, to a torrent of Internet activities involving webcasts, web sites, and social media. Further, it heads up various and countrywide trade shows and major conferences such as IdeaCity, a three-day congress of individuals with ideas, brought together to offer their thoughts on every subject.
Moses Znaimer came to fame creating City TV, as a free-wheeling, innovative, local TV station broadcasting everything from hard news to soft porn. It became known for broadcasting out of a glass-box studio, with signature programs like CityPulse News and MuchMusic, which featured interviews with music celebrities and numerous music videos. CityTV also introduced Toronto to a team of recognizable TV anchors who became local celebrities.
What we call communications media is always morphing and Znaimer is well aware of this. Now, as old and new media forms (print, radio, TV, social media) integrate and flow directly onto Internet, Znaimer is busy discovering the best way to reach the widest audience. ZoomerMedia often acts as a laboratory, experimenting with ways to shape, promote, and export Canadian culture, nationally and worldwide.
When I visited ZoomerMedia, I took a few shots of everything from heated political debates, filmed for TV—to a large choir that rocked the television studio with gospel singing. There were swarms of technicians checking lights, sound, make-up, wardrobe, camera movements. I saw one show done with a live audience.
The studio is a huge space, its high walls surrounded by giant flat screens. The room is full of other screens, including visual teleprompters. Cameras large and small record everything.
ZoomerMedia intentionally caters to a more mature audience, targeting the large demographic group, “the boomers”. However, as the traditional mainstream media decline, and the Internet offers new media forms (Facebook, web casts, blogs), as well as a broadcast platform for older forms, (print, TV programs, and radio), strategic possibilities arise. For example, many of those who currently enjoy live performances are utterly unaware of the huge number of terrific shows going on around Toronto every day. Exceptional musicians, singers, dancers, and theatre artists make this city a rival to New York and even London, England.
But why do so many people never even hear of these productions? The reason is that most quality shows in Toronto are not even mentioned in the newspaper, TV, or on radio. The creators often lack the money to advertise their events, which are staged in any available space, all over town. The average person would know of these shows only via word-of-mouth or social media. Traditional media such as newspapers allocate minimal amounts of print space to the arts. Few shows are ever reviewed. As a result, extraordinary entertainment is rarely reported. In such a situation, an audacious media company like Zoomer can help connect a more mature audience with a dazzling array of theatre and every kind of show. Zoomer can reach a specific audience that appreciate the new, daring, and adventurous and give them a more informed view of “local” culture, in Toronto and in cities all across Canada. Further, most educated artists have never received practical training in connecting with an audience dying to see them. I personally believe if Zoomer held tours and seminars, sharing knowledge about advertising, promotion, and marketing, it would greatly benefit those in the independent film and theatre movement.
I look forward to my next visit to ZoomerMedia. I can’t wait to see to see where StarShip Zoomer will take us next.
Check out ZoomerMedia:
Earlier visit to ZoomerMedia:
All photos by Burke Campbell