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Author Topic: Roots Television: Where History Meets Heritage  (Read 4059 times)
Marilyn Teaff Barton
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« on: April 23, 2007, 05:19:04 PM »

(This comes from the Roots Television Website:

We’ve been perplexed for a long time.  These days, there’s a horse channel, a wine channel, a sailing channel, a  channel, a guitar channel, and even a shipwreck channel.  So why, we wondered, isn’t there a channel servicing the millions of people interested in genealogy and family history?  After all, there are many that claim that tracing roots is the second most popular hobby out there.

Well, now there’s a channel for us.  Roots Television™ is by and for avid genealogists and family history lovers of all stripes.  Whether you’re an archives hound, a scrapbooker, a cousin collector, a roots-travel enthusiast, a Civil War re-enactor, a DNA fan, a reunion instigator, a sepia-toned photos zealot, an Internet-junkie, a history buff, an old country traditions follower, a cemetery devotee, a story-teller, a multicultural food aficionado, a flea market and antiques fanatic, a family documentarian, a nostalgia nut, or a mystery-solver, Roots Television™ has something for you -- and that “something” is quality programming.

By way of introduction, here’s a brief Q&A:

What are your shows about?
Check out the Program Guide to get a flavor of the variety we offer.  You’ll find everything from DNA Stories, to Flat Stanley’s Family Tree, to the lectures from the latest Genealogy and Technology Conference.    We’re defining “roots” broadly – really broadly – so you don’t have to be a genealogist to find something of interest here. 

Where do the shows come from?
The programs available on Roots Television™ come from a variety of sources We have original programming that’s only available on ROOTS TELEVISION, like the exclusive New York Press Conference for  Annie Moore and “DNA Stories.”  We launch new, original shows regularly, so be sure to check back often.  We also license other shows and films from talented producers around the world.  We pledge to do our best to provide as wide a selection as possible and to introduce fresh programming on a regular basis.

Are they “regular” TV shows?
The Roots Television™ team has been producing real shows for “regular” television for a long time.  The primary difference between what you’ve seen on television and what you’ll see here is that we’ll be experimenting with length.  Common wisdom says that folks prefer shorter shows when watching online.  But Internet-based television is so new that it’s hard to say whether the “common wisdom” is right.

So we’re playing with what we call “chunking” – that is, taking traditional half-hour and full-hour shows and breaking them into brief segments (say, 3 to 8 minutes) that can be viewed one at a time or sequentially.  This way, you can take a quick break and watch a single, self-contained segment or sit back and watch an entire show.  Whatever works best for you.

And by the way, you can watch what you want when you want.  You’re no longer chained to “appointment TV” where the networks dictate your viewing schedule.

Do I watch it on my computer screen or my TV?
Believe it or not, your computer and TV screens are in the process of merging.  That’s one of the primary reasons we chose to launch online (click here to learn some of our other reasons).  Initially, you’ll access Roots Television™ through this website, but in the not-too-distant future, you’ll be able to download shows for viewing on home-networked TV sets and other devices.

How much does it cost?
Not surprisingly, the producers of these shows expect to be compensated – and the easiest way to do that is through a pay-per-view option.  We intend to keep the majority of our programming free to the viewers, but we will also offer some special programming through a pay-per-view or download-to-own option.

How Can I Get Involved?
Well, to start, we could use your help.  In order to attract advertisers and sponsors to help keep this channel free, we need traffic – lots and lots of folks watching programs on Roots Television™.  And that’s where you come in.

The more people who visit this site, the more often they come, and the longer they stay, the better the odds are that we can attract the advertising and sponsorship we need to offer lots of great shows free for viewers like yourself.

So we’re going to pull a Jerry Maguire and ask you to “help us help you.”  Please spread the word about Roots Television™.  Email your research buddies about us.  Tell your local society about us at your next meeting.  When you find a terrific show, let others know about it -- even your non-genealogical friends.  Check in often and spend some time visiting us – watch our shows, peruse our blogs, buy your next roots-oriented book through our shop (those little affiliate fees add up!), and take some time to putter around and see what else we have to offer. 

Can I Be on Roots TV?
Absolutely!  We can now accept user-submitted content on our brand new Roots Tube Channel.  Have a wall-busting research tip to share?  Or an unbelievable family reunion video?  Or maybe you’ve realized it’s finally time to capture Uncle Albert’s oral history.  Whatever the reason, if it has something to do with genealogy, roots hounds, and the people who love them, we want to see it.  Go to Roots Tube and learn how you can be on Roots TV.

Is Anyone Listening?
We are always interested in your feedback and questions, so don’t hesitate to contact us.  Whether you have an exciting idea for a program you’d like us to offer, or a question about how our site works, we want to hear from you!  And by the way, we welcome positive feedback too! Just drop us a line at


Who Are You?
Roots Television is a privately owned company founded by professional genealogist Megan Smolenyak and media producer Marcy Brown.



Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, Partner
Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak (yes, that's her real name!) is a Roots Television partner and has been an avid genealogist since the 6th grade and is skilled in many aspects of family history research.  As an author and popular speaker, Megan brings her expertise to large audiences world-wide.  Her latest book,Trace Your Roots with DNA: Using Genetic Tests to Explore Your Family Tree, (co-authored with Ann Turner, M.D.), has been featured in Newsweek, The New York Times, on NPR, and in the Book of the Month Club.

Megan is honored to serve as Chief Family Historian and North American spokesperson for, the largest genealogical company in the world.  She has appeared on Good Morning America, the Today Show, Fox & Friends, Ancestors, TimeWatch, NPR and a number of local television and radio shows, and most recently on CNN helping the Rev. Al Sharpton trace his roots.  As lead researcher for the PBS Ancestors series, she delved into over 5,000 genealogical stories and developed much of the content for the companion website. She has subsequently consulted for other television programs, including PBS's award-winning They Came to America and BBC’s Timewatch (regarding the identification of sailors’ remains recovered from the USS Monitor).

Since 2000, Megan has also been a consultant with the U.S. Army's Repatriation project to trace families of servicemen killed or MIA in Korea, WWII and Vietnam. The intent is to develop a DNA-database from relatives' blood samples so that remains that are now being repatriated can be identified and interred. She has supported this and more than 75 other genealogical initiatives through her Honoring Our Ancestors Grants Program.

Recipient of International Society of Family History Writers and Editors awards in 2003, 2004 and 2005, Megan sits on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) and is also delighted to be the 2004-2005 winner of the Bo Peep Award, given by the International Black Sheep Society of Genealogists to those who have "contributed significantly to the betterment of the community of historical and genealogical researchers."


Formerly an international marketing consultant, Megan has traveled to more than 70 countries and holds a BSFS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, MBA in International Business from George Washington University and MAS in Information Technology from Johns Hopkins University.


Marcy Brown, Partner
Marcy Brown is an independent media producer, and also a founder and managing director of Roots Television.  She has written, produced and directed documentaries and television programming in diverse world-wide locations, on topics ranging from family history to competitive  to religion in Africa.  For the past fifteen years, Marcy has had a presence in the family history community as a creative partner and Executive Producer of the award-winning PBS Ancestors series, which aired on more than 200 public television channels across the United States.

Marcy holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film Production and has experience working with television stations and film studios in the U.S., as well as the BBC in England.  She worked with BBC producer/director Stephen Peet, a pioneer in oral history filmmaking.  Marcy believes strongly in the power of media to wield a positive influence in peoples’ lives.  After spending hundreds of hours capturing the stories of ordinary people, she is convinced that there is no such thing as an uninteresting life.  Everyone has a story to tell.  Every life has a message worth sharing.


Samantha Butterworth, Director of Programming and Operations
Samantha Butterworth got her start as an evaluator and instructional designer for university distance education, and has published multiple studies on the efficiency and effectiveness of online teaching and learning.  After completing her Master’s degree in Greek, Latin, and Enlightenment literature, Sam turned her sights towards more contemporary (and practical) ventures into scriptwriting and production. 

Sam has always been passionate about making education available to all those who wish to access it, and she is excited to work with Roots Television on the cutting edge of on-demand instruction and entertainment.


Design and Development Provided by:


Art and Fine Art
Based in England, husband and wife team Laurie & Howard Moses have worked together for over 20 years. Previously they both worked in the graphic design department at the BBC in London. Now in Bristol, their work covers design for film, television, web sites, iptv and print as well as being represented in the fine art world by galleries in the UK and Southern Ireland.



 Design i2i
DESIGNi2i is dedicated to providing eye-catching websites that engage the end user and ultimately enrich each client’s individual business needs.  Based out of Golden, Colorado, DESIGNi2i offers comprehensive web development services including consultation, information architecture, visual design, brochure sites, e-commerce, brand identity, e-newsletters and graphic design. In addition to the illustrative side of web design, DESIGNi2i has cultivated a network of strategic partnerships with industry code people to afford clients across-the-board site functionality such as database management, web hosting, e-commerce functionality, email services, web tracking, and search engine optimization.


Zing Studios

Zing Studios is a web and database development company specializing in custom, self-administered web sites and corporate intranets.
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