PHL17’s All-Mummers Channel Staying on Air Indefinitely
“That is the fourth Macarena of the New Year,” Steve Highsmith said just after we turned on the TV. It was last December. At happy hour, I was talking about the new All-Mummers channel PHL17 had launched that week. When some friends and I returned to my house after happy hour, we turned on the channel and heard Highsmith’s count.
By the time everyone left that evening, we had seen four more Macarena skits in the 1997 parade. The Mummers that year were like the Democrats in 1996: All Macarena, all the time. But I saw more than just that parade. I watched a lot of Mummers during the month of December — more than I’d like to admit. I saw a lot of sequins, feathers and Jerry Blavat. But when the month was over, I expected the all-Mummers Parade channel would be mothballed for another year.
I was wrong. It’s now March 16th, and the Mummers Parade is still on TV. And, apparently, it’s going to be on indefinitely. “I get a lot of positive feedback,” Vince Giannini, VP and General Manager of PHL17, says. “At the current time, it’s the best way I see to program. Until further notice, we’ll stick with this.” The 17.4 subchannel was formerly GeoTraffic.
Before putting a parade on the station, PHL17 staffers go through it to make sure it’s formatted correctly and “good and clean” for TV. The station airs parades from 1995 to the present, and recently added several more parades from the 2000s to the channel. Channel 17 airs Antenna TV, which primarily airs old TV shows, on 17.2 and ThisTV, which airs TV shows and movies, on 17.3. Mummers TV (17.4 over the air) is Channel 253 on Comcast.
The genesis of Mummers TV came at a meeting, Giannini says, when a manager at PHL17 suggested the station do something with the large Mummers Parade archive it has. Looking for a programming option for the 17.4 subchannel, the station decided to turn it into a Mummers TV. “What a perfect way to lead up to the parade,” Giannini says. “We put a press release out and I had more phone calls from reporters than anything I’ve done in years. When the newswires nationwide are picking it up, it’s like ‘Holy cow.’”
Giannini says different programming may eventually take over the Mummers channel, but says advertisers like the station for now. But even if it disappears, Giannini says the station will find a way to use its large archive of Mummers Parades.
“The community likes it, the advertisers don’t mind running it,” he says. “We’re trying to figure out how to keep this concept alive.”