By Edward Henderson
When it comes to the world of television and entertainment, we have more options than San Diego has taco shops. In order to succeed long term, a show needs grab hold of a deeper part of the audience than our propensity towards drama and outrageous personalities. Melvin Parker and his new show ‘The Block TV’ aims to use the essence of San Diego and the talented citizens living here to capture the imagination of audiences and introduce them to hidden treasures in their own backyard.
A product of a military family, Parker was born in Baltimore, Maryland but spent most of his childhood overseas in Taiwan and the Philippines. He came to San Diego in his teens with a broad perspective on life and the people who add color to it.
Parker got interested in television after receiving a scholarship from the San Diego Association of Black Journalists to attend National University for broadcast journalism. After graduation, he got a job working for NBC as an operations technician, which gave him valuable experience in the field. This experience also fueled his ambition to branch out on his own and create something he felt the community needed.
“I saw a void that I thought was important to cover,” Parker said. “Stories needed to be told from communities south of the 8. I knew there were amazing things there that people didn’t get an opportunity to experience. I would always would see something in San Diego that nationally they thought was such an amazing spot, but locally I’d never heard of it.”
Parker has been working on the show for over two years from concept to creation. He and his team recently aired the first episode of ‘The Block TV’ on their Facebook and Youtube pages. The show features vignettes on what Parker calls the ‘B.E.A.T.S of San Diego’. The acronym stands for business, entertainment, arts, technology and sports. Camera work on the show is top notch, featuring sweeping images of our city and the people who breathe life into it. Pair that with compelling interviews to get inside of the minds of San Diego’s innovators, then you have the perfect wave for couch and web surfing.
At first, finding people who were committed and passionate about his vision was not an easy thing to do.
“To get people to buy into a concept when you’re broke but have a concept didn’t go over well with very many people. A lot of blood sweat and tears went into getting the money together. In my household my wife and I have a no excuse policy. If you want something, you have to go after it. No excuses. If you’re hungry enough you’re going to find a way.”
Parker eventually connected with co-produces EQ Studios. They had a show that was similar to what he wanted to do but it was just for art. Due to his experience in television, the partnership made sense and the show was able to get off of the ground. The team’s ultimate goal is to expand the show to five other major cities on the west coast and create a true family network that competes with the other major networks. While Parker is in negotiations with a network to pick up the show, the group decided to release the first episode on a web based format to grow their own audience and take control of their own destiny.
“As an African American, for us to own something outright is very rare. I’m trying to build an empire that I can leave behind for my family and also create jobs. It’s also important for us to be socially responsible for what we produce and they type of content we create as a company. It will be hard, but it’s worth the risk. We’re confident we have a good product and we felt like we could create some leverage that way.”