Eight, Arizona PBS Nerd Walk spreads from New York to California
Eight, Arizona PBS invites all self-proclaimed nerds, geeks and enthusiasts to surge the streets of Tempe at the fourth annual PBS Nerd Walk, Nov. 1, at the Arizona State University Homecoming Block Party.
“We started this PBS Nerd movement here locally, but I’m constantly thrilled and amazed at how it’s received around the nation,” says Bob Beard, promotions and events coordinator and “Nerd-in-Chief” at Eight.
Eight, Arizona PBS pioneered the first Nerd Walk four years ago. Now, PBS stations across the U.S. are following suit. Stations in Michigan, Oklahoma, New York, Idaho, California and Florida have all organized Nerd activities.
“The excitement about the Nerd revolution that is spreading throughout PBS stations epitomizes what PBS stands for,” says Tim Eernisse, development and marketing manager at WGVU, western Michigan’s PBS station. WGVU held its inaugural Nerd Walk on Sept. 24. “Being able to take the best ideas from local stations, incubate them and have them spread to other communities signifies how important PBS is across America,” Eernisse says.
Eight’s strong community connections contribute to the Nerd Walk’s growing success. Eight made its first-ever appearance at Phoenix Comicon earlier this year as a contributor to the education track. Partnering with scholars from ASU, PBS Digital Studios and Webby Award-winning host Mike Rugnetta, Eight hosted panels on the intersection of digital learning models and popular culture that were some of the track’s highest attended sessions. Comic conventions across the country are now emulating this model and partnering with their local PBS stations.
Kelly McCullough Eight, Arizona PBS general manager, sees this as part of the promise that the station has made to serving the local community. “Culturally, we are curious. No other media enterprise more completely covers all the topics that inspire America’s brainiacs than PBS. A big reason this campaign is so successful is that Eight delivers what the passionate nerd culture seeks – the seriousness, credibility, variety and depth of content. It’s like a one-stop shop for nerds of all kinds to be better informed about whatever it is they’re into. Everyone’s a nerd for something, and our viewers know that their interests are taken seriously at PBS.”
Beard adds, “Our thought from the beginning was that ‘everyone is a nerd for something,’ and it’s incredible just how that message resonates. Whether your passion is robotics, French literature or amassing the world’s largest collection of rubber duckies, we’re all united by that process of inquiry – of wanting to know as much as we can about the thing that we love – and that’s amazing. The Nerd Walk stands for the celebration of niche interests. By encouraging individual passions, Nerd Walks promote intellectualism as a movement.”
Eight’s annual Nerd Walk started in 2011 as Eight’s contribution to ASU’s Homecoming Parade, and is now one of the largest individual entries. (Eight, Arizona PBS is a unit of Arizona State University, which co-owns the PBS broadcasting license). Nerd Walk organizers anticipate 500 participants this year.
Registration for the 2014 Nerd Walk is available online at http://www.azpbs.org/nerd/.
Support for the Arizona PBS Nerd Walk provided by Bookmans Entertainment Exchange and Wonka Nerds.
Eight, Arizona PBS is a member-supported community service of Arizona State University and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.