June 2 2010 12:00 AM

WKAR-TV series spotlights local musicians in concert

The past 12 episodes of WKAR-TV’s "BackStage Pass" have been picked up for distribution by the National Educational Telecommunications Association, which will make the shows available to public television stations throughout the country this fall.

“What national distribution really means is that it gets the program from Michigan out to a wider audience so they can see the great talent that is based here in our communities,” said WKAR promotions director Jeanie Croope.

“Also, every program that goes out has the WKAR/Michigan State University logo, so every program is associated with Michigan State University as well. So it really helps promote the university and the mid-Michigan area to people who live all over the country. It’s pretty nice.”

"BackStage Pass" features concerts from Michigan bands, local groups and students from MSU’s College of Music, including interviews with the artists.

“This is something we have always wanted to do and were finally able to do,” said executive producer Tim Zeko. “Michigan has a tremendous talent base, especially in the mid-Michigan area, and we really wanted to showcase Michigan talent.”

Zeko initially found musicians for the show by scouting out local concerts and events, but now says as the show gains recognition, he primarily sorts through the vast amounts of material sent to him by groups hoping to land a spot on the show.

The series is shooting new programs. An episode featuring Groove Merchant tapes tonight at the WKAR studios; Delilah DeWylde and the Lost Boys will be in front of the cameras later in the month.

“The series itself is kind of a collection of musical genres,” Croope said. “We have a range from jazz to folk, rock, rap, R&B, opera, and more. There is kind of a something-for-everyone aspect to it.

"The other thing is it combines good performances with some really good interviews — that’s the backstage part of ‘BackStage Pass.’ We conduct interviews with the bands so those watching can get an idea of the people behind the band — who they are and what went into the writing of their music.”